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What expenses are tax deductible from business income? (2019/2020)

Updated Feb 2nd, 2020


Wether you have a LLC/Corporation or receive business income personally via form 1099-Misc… The answer I give to all my clients is: “Any expense that is necessary, ordinary, reasonable, documented, and legal may be deductible…”

  • Ordinary: means it is commonly accepted in the industry and seen often with other businesses in the same trade
  • Necessary: means the expense was required in order to generate the business income or it was incurred as a consequence of the income producing activities. But it does not need to be indispensable in order to be deductible
  • Reasonable: this is very subjective, but in essence it means it is not lavish or extravagant
  • Documented: means that the taxpayer has the burden of proof to prove the expense existed, that the amount reported is accurate, and it has a true business purpose (necessary)
  • Legal: the expenditure cannot break any laws, be considered a bribe, or made in connection to an illegal activity / or activity in which the business does not gave the legal capacity to perform
Here is a list of the top 10 mot common deductions that can be confusing:
  • Home Office Expense: Frequently failing to document the square footage of the home, creating a business-only environment, and document its business purpose is the most common issue.  You can deduct actual expenses ], limited to square footage.  Or use the safe harbor method of $5 per dedicated square foot (limited to $1,500 for the year)
  • Vehicle Expense: mixing personal and business use of vehicles and not properly tracking milage is a large are of non-compliance.  you can deduct actual expenses or deduct $.55 per mile
  • Insurance: business insurances are all deductible
  • Health Insurance: premiums paid for health insurance may be deducted on personal return for business owners (Note: S-Corps have special reporting requirements)
  • Charitable Contributions: For pass-through entities, such as S-Corporations and Partnership/LLC’s, charity is “deductible” only on the persona return, but most taxpayers cannot get any benefit for it because of standard deductions.  Political contributions or “Gifts” to 3rd parties are NEVER deductible
  • Meals: spent while working or while conducting business
  • Travel Expenses: frequently combining personal with business travel is a large problem.  But all unreimbursed business travel is deductible
  • Employees and Subcontractors: not properly correctly categorizing employees or contractors and reporting them as such; which may lead to large payroll tax penalties or disallowance of contractor expenses
  • Retirement and Deferred Compensation Plans:  401k or pension plans will reduce your taxable income.
  • Write-off: open invoices/receivables that are deemed uncollectible, open bills/payables that will not be paid, and adjusting Inventory quantity/valuation. For ACCRUAL-BASIS taxpayers
  • Pre-startup costs: made before the business started and.or in connection to setting up the business.  Also some business owners tend to “cover” business expenses with personal funds or personal credit cards (outside of the business bank accounts) and forget to register it in the business books
Here is a 55-minute video I recorded to explain all these in detail:

Additionally, here is Here is a list of typical Expense accounts from my accounting software across multiple industries, so you may want to summarize your chart of accounts to 20-25 accounts max…

Expense Type/Name Description
Advertising and Promotion Advertising, marketing, graphic design, and other promotional expenses
Auto and Truck Expenses Fuel, oil, repairs, and other maintenance for business autos and trucks
Bank Service Charges Bank account service fees, bad check charges and other bank fees
Blueprints and Reproduction Blueprints, photostats, and other printing expense
Bond Expense Construction bonds expenses directly related to jobs
Building and Property Security Building and property security monitoring expenses
Business Licenses and Permits Business licenses, permits, and other business-related fees
Commissions Paid Commissions paid to outside sales reps and agents
Computer and Internet Expenses Computer supplies, off-the-shelf software, online fees, and other computer or internet related expenses
Conferences and Meetings Costs for attending conferences and meetings
Chemicals Purchased Costs of chemicals used in farming operations
Construction Materials Costs Construction materials costs
Continuing Education Seminars, educational expenses and employee development, not including travel
Accounting Fees Outside (non-employee) accounting, audit, bookkeeping, tax prep, payroll service, and related consulting
Legal Fees Outside (non-employee) legal services
Cost of Goods Sold Cost of inventory or inventory / stock purchases
Contracted Services Direct labor costs for contract (non-employees) performing services for clients
Depreciation Expense Depreciation on equipment, buildings and improvements
Dues and Subscriptions Subscriptions and membership dues for civic, service, professional, trade organizations
Equipment Rental Rent paid for rented equipment used for business
Equipment Rental for Jobs Rent paid for rented equipment used on jobs
Special Events Brand vangelism, and special events
Facilities and Equipment Expenses related to office, storage, and other space
Fertilizers and Lime Fertilizers and lime purchased for farm operations.
Food Purchases Food purchases including meats, vegetables, and all ingredients for Restaurants
Freight and Shipping Costs Freight-in and shipping costs for delivery to customers
Freight and Trucking Amounts paid for freight or trucking of farm products.
Freight Costs Costs of freight and delivery for merchandise purchased
Fuel for Hired Vehicles Fuel costs for hired vehicles
Gasoline, Fuel and Oil Gasoline, fuel or oil used for farm machinery
General Liability Insurance General liability insurance premiums
Life and Disability Insurance Employee life and disability insurance premiums
Professional Liability Professional liability (errors and omissions) insurance
Workers Compensation Worker’s compensation insurance premiums
Equipment Insurance Insuring your equipment or facilities
Interest Expense Interest payments on business loans, credit card balances, or other business debt
Janitorial Expense Janitorial expenses and cleaning supplies
Job Materials Purchased Construction materials used on jobs
Laboratory Fees Charges from outside laboratories
Landscaping and Groundskeeping Landscape maintenance, gardening, and pool maintenance costs of your building
Linens and Lodging Supplies Costs of linens and other supplies for guest rooms
Marketing Expense Advertising, marketing, graphic design, and other promotional expenses for our company
Materials Costs Cost of materials used on jobs
Meals Business meals, including travel-related meals (50% limited deductibility)
NOTE: Entertainment is no longer deductible
Media Purchased for Clients Print, TV, radio, and other media purchased for clients
Medical Records and Supplies Filing supplies for medical records for medical practices
Merchant Account Fees Credit card merchant account discount fees, transaction fees, and related costs
Ministry Expenses Ministry expenses for non-profit / churches
Office Supplies Office supplies expense
Other Construction Costs Other costs directly related to jobs such as waste disposal, onsite storage rental, etc.
Other Job Related Costs Other costs directly related to jobs such as waste disposal, onsite storage rental, etc.
Outside Services Payments to outside contractors (non-employees) for projects, consulting, or short-term assignments
Parts Purchases Purchases of parts for use on customer repairs or resale
Payroll Expenses Payroll expenses
Postage and Delivery Postage, courier, and pickup and delivery services
Printing and Reproduction Printing, copies, and other reproduction expenses
Product Samples Expense Cost of products used as floor samples or given to customers for trial or demonstration
Professional Fees Payments to attorneys and other professionals for services rendered
Purchases – Hardware for Resale Purchases of hardware items for resale that are not tracked or counted in inventory
Purchases – Parts and Materials Purchases of parts and other supplies used on service and maintenance jobs
Purchases – Resale Items Purchases of items for resale that are not tracked or counted in inventory
Purchases – Software for Resale Purchases of software items for resale that are not tracked or counted in inventory
Reference Materials Coding books, anatomical charts and models, etc.
Rent Expense Rent paid for company offices or other structures used in the business
Repairs and Maintenance Incidental repairs and maintenance of business assets that do not add to the value or appreciably prolong its life
Research Services Research costs including legal library and subscriptions for research services
Restaurant Supplies Supplies purchased for restaurant operations. Includes dishes, cookware, and other items not classified as inventory or fixed assets
Salon Supplies, Linens, Laundry Costs of supplies used in the course of business (includes linens and laundry services)
Seeds and Plants Purchased Seeds and plants purchased for producing farm income.
Shop Expense Miscellaneous shop supplies and related shop expenses (rags, hand cleaning supplies, etc.)
Small Medical Equipment Purchases of small instruments and equipment not classified as fixed assets for medical practices
Small Tools and Equipment Purchases of small tools or equipment not classified as fixed assets
Storage and Warehousing Amounts paid to store farm commodities.
Subcontractors Expense Subcontracted services performed by other contractors
Taxes – Property Taxes paid on property owned by the business, franchise taxes, excise taxes, etc.
Telephone Expense Telephone and long distance charges, faxing, and other fees Not equipment purchases
Tools and Small Equipment Purchases of tools or small equipment used on jobs
Travel and Meetings Expenses related to travel, meetings, conferences
Conference, Convention, Meeting Conducting, or sending staff to, program-related meetings, conferences, conventions
Travel Expense Business-related travel expenses including airline tickets, taxi fares, hotel and other travel expenses
Travel Expenses for Drivers Business-related travel expenses including hotel and meals for drivers
Truck Maintenance Costs Maintenance, repairs, tires, etc. on trucks, tractors, and trailers for hire
Uniforms Uniforms for employees and contractors
Utilities Water, electricity, garbage, and other basic utilities expenses of your office or business facilities
Vaccines and Medicines Vaccines, medicines, and other drugs for medical practices
Worker’s Compensation Insurance Worker’s compensation insurance premiums

Here you can download the entire spreadsheet by industry

Also, an IRS Article for reference:

Also, some IRS Stats:

2016 Schedule C IRS Stats





Hector Garcia, CPA
7791 NW 46th Street #109
Doral, FL 33166


Hector Garcia

Hector Garcia

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