9 Tax Rules to Consider If You’re Your Own Boss

Does the idea of being your own boss and being in business for yourself appeal to you? 

Many people who launch small businesses start out as sole proprietors. However, there are tax rules and considerations to consider if you’re a sole proprietor.

Here are nine things to consider if you are your own boss

1 – You may qualify for the pass-through deduction

To the extent your business generates qualified business income, you are eligible to claim the 20% pass-through deduction, subject to limitations. 

There are tax rules to consider if you're your own boss

The deduction is taken “below the line,” meaning it reduces taxable income, rather than being taken “above the line” against your gross income.

However, you can take the deduction even if you don’t itemize deductions and instead claim the standard deduction.

2 – Report income and expenses on Schedule C of Form 1040 

The net income will be taxable to you regardless of whether you withdraw cash from the business. 

Your business expenses are deductible against gross income and not as itemized deductions. 

If you have losses, they will generally be deductible against your other income, subject to special rules related to hobby losses, passive activity losses, and losses in activities in which you weren’t “at risk.”

3 – Pay self-employment taxes

For 2020, you pay self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare) at a 15.3% rate on your net earnings from self-employment of up to $137,700, and Medicare tax only at a 2.9% rate on the excess. 

An additional 0.9% Medicare tax (for a total of 3.8%) is imposed on self-employment income in excess of $250,000 for joint returns; $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separate returns; and $200,000 in all other cases. 

Self-employment tax is imposed in addition to income tax, but you can deduct half of your self-employment tax as an adjustment to income. 

4 – Make quarterly estimated tax payments 

For 2019, these are due April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15, 2021. 

5 – You may be able to deduct home office expenses 

If you work from a home office, perform management or administrative tasks there, or store product samples or inventory at home, you may be entitled to deduct an allocable portion of some costs of maintaining your home. 

And if you have a home office, you may be able to deduct expenses of traveling from there to another work location.

6 – You can deduct 100% of your health insurance costs as a business expense 

This means your deduction for medical care insurance won’t be subject to the rule that limits medical expense deductions.

7 – Keep complete records of your income and expenses

Specifically, you should carefully record your expenses in order to claim all the tax breaks to which you’re entitled. 

Certain expenses, such as automobile, travel, meals, and office-at-home expenses, require special attention because they’re subject to special recordkeeping rules or deductibility limits. 

8 – Requirements change if you hire employees

When you hire employees, you need to get a taxpayer identification number and withhold and pay employment taxes. 

9 – Consider establishing a qualified retirement plan 

The advantage is that amounts contributed to the plan are deductible at the time of the contribution and aren’t taken into income until they’re are withdrawn. 

Because many qualified plans can be complex, you might consider a SEP plan, which requires less paperwork. 

A SIMPLE plan is also available to sole proprietors that offers tax advantages with fewer restrictions and administrative requirements. 

If you don’t establish a retirement plan, you may still be able to contribute to an IRA. 

David Mills CPA, LLC has the expertise to assist small businesses

At David Mills CPA, LLC, we work with small businesses throughout the Central Illinois.

We have offices in Morton and East Peoria and can assist business owners with advice, bookkeeping, payroll, income tax planning and preparations, and business valuations

We can also help business owners understand the various business structures to ensure their business is structured to best meet their needs.

For more information, contact David Mills CPA, LLC today.

Two sets of hands, one holding a phone and the other holding a business document

How do Business Structures Differ?

Starting a new business is an exciting venture, but with so many business structures, deciding the legal structure of your company can seem overwhelming. Will it be a sole proprietorship? A corporation? Is it an LLC?

Trying to figure out the various business legal structures can seem complex. However, the experts at David Mills, CPA, LLC have the experience and knowledge to provide expert advice and guidance

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says there are five primary types of business structures. Which one you chose will affect which income tax return form you have to file.

The five most common business legal structures are:

Sole Proprietorship

In a sole proprietorship, the individual who owns the business is an unincorporated business by themselves. 

This type of business structure is sometimes known as the sole trader, individual entrepreneurship or proprietorship. There is no legal distinction between the owner and the business entity. 

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a sole proprietorship is “the simplest and most common structure chosen to start a business.” 

Partnership

A partnership is when two or more individuals join together to create a business. According to the IRS, in a partnership “each person contributes money, property, labor or skill, and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business.”

Within a partnership, there are two common types: limited partnerships (LP) and limited liability partnerships (LLP). 

The U.S. Small Business Administration notes a limited partnership has one partner with unlimited liability and all others with limited liability. 

In a limited partnership, the partners with limited liability tend to have limited control over the company. Profits are passed through to personal tax returns, and the general partner — the partner without limited liability — must also pay self-employment taxes.

A limited liability partnership (LLP) gives limited liability to every owner. This structure protects each partner from debts against the partnership.

Corporation

When a corporation is formed, prospective shareholders exchange money, property or both, for the corporation’s capital stock. 

Sometimes called a “C-corp” a corporation is a legal entity separate from its owners. 

The Small Business Administration notes corporations offer “the strongest protection to its owners from personal liability” but “the cost to form a corporation is higher than other structures.”

Operating a corporation requires more extensive record-keeping and reporting.

S Corporation

The IRS says S Corporations “are corporations that elect to pass corporate income, losses, deductions, and credits through to their shareholders for federal tax purposes.”

Becoming an S Corporation requires a business to meet certain qualifications including being a domestic corporation and having no more than 100 shareholders.

Businesses must file with the IRS to earn S Corporation status.

Limited Liability Company

A limited liability company, more commonly referred to as an “LLC” combines the advantages of both the corporation and partnership business structures.

An LLC can protect an individual from personal liability in most instances. 

Owners of an LLC are known as “members” and the members can be individuals, corporations, other LLCs or foreign entities. Most states, including Illinois, permit “single-member” LLCs, in which there is only one owner.

Let the Experts at David Mills, CPA, LLC Help

The professionals at David Mills, CPA, LLC, have offices in both Morton and East Peoria. They work with business clients in the Tri-County (Peoria, Woodford and Tazewell) area as well as beyond.

When establishing a business, contact David Mills, CPA, LLC to ensure the legal entity you select best matches your professional goals.