Some tax planning moves for small businesses are more common, like acquiring property that qualifies for the generous Section 179 expensing allowance. But other strategies may fly under the radar. Here are three little-known ways to save:

  1. Building improvements:Generally, amounts paid to improve tangible property must be capitalized and depreciated over time, but recent regulations provide a unique tax break. Under a safe harbor election, a qualified small business may deduct certain building costs above the maximum Section 179 allowance. The election is limited to $2,500 per invoice or item or $5,000 if you have an applicable financial statement (AFA) audited by a CPA.
  2. Employee bonuses:Normally, employee bonuses are deducted in the year they are paid. However, for an accrual-basis company, bonuses are currently deductible if fixed by year-end and paid within 2.5 months of the close of the tax year. Thus, your small business may deduct year-end bonuses on its 2017 return if they are paid by March 15, 2018 (other than bonuses paid to majority shareholders of a C corporation, certain owners of an S corporation or a personal service corporation).
  3. Start-up expenses:The tax law allows a small-business owner to claim a first-year deduction of up to $5,000 for qualified start-up costs. Any remainder must be deducted over 180 months. However, the $5,000 write-off is phased out on a dollar-for-dollar basis for start-up costs exceeding $50,000.

Some typical start-up expenses are:

  • An analysis of potential markets, products and costs
  • Advertisements for the opening of the business
  • Wages paid to train employees
  • Travel for securing prospective distributors, suppliers, customers or clients
  • Fees paid to outside consultants for professional services

There is one catch: You must be open for business before the end of the year if you want to claim this for 2017. So make sure that the public has access to your goods or services before Jan. 1.

Give us a call and we can help you determine what types of small business tax breaks might be applicable to your specific situation.