Whether you’re looking to save money, lower your tax bill, or simply have confidence you took smart year-end actions, there are many things you can do to help lower your 2018 tax bill.
But today I’m going to share my favorite two simple last-minute tax tips! These two last-minute tips have pretty universal relevance to small business owners. And best yet? They’re easy to implement! So let’s get going…
*Side note: if you go through the tips and find yourself wanting more help tailoring tax strategy to your specific situation, let’s chat.*
#1) Defer your business’ income.
Assuming you’re filing on a cash-basis (most small business owners & self-employed file this way), defer your income.
How does this work? Simply don’t send out any more invoices. If you have invoices that would typically go out before the 31st, don’t send them. Similarly, if you’d typically follow-up on unpaid invoices, don’t follow up until January 1st.
This can help you & your business tax-wise because when you’re filing on a cash basis, you only pay taxes on the amount of money you received. Essentially, if you haven’t received the money, you can’t pay taxes on it.
How effective is it? Very effective.
At worst, you won’t owe your tax rate on the amount you would have received. For instance, say your tax rate is 22%, and you hold off on sending $3,000 in invoices. By NOT sending the $3,000 worth of invoices this calendar year, you’ll NOT report that $3,000 this year, and will NOT owe the $660 tax that would typically be due on the $3,000. Essentially, delaying that $3,000 in this scenario would save you $660.
At best, you prevent your tax rate from increasing when your income level is right on the cusp of changing tax rates. All tax rates are based on a certain threshold of income, and when you make more money, your tax rate increases at specific thresholds. So, how would this look in a theoritical example? Let’s break it down. First, let’s assume your income is right at the max limit of the 24% tax bracket. As such, if you make $1,000 more in 2018, you’ll jump from the 24% bracket to the 32% bracket. You have $3,000 in invoices you are holding off in sending. By NOT sending the $3,000 worth of invoices this calendar year, you’ll NOT report that $3,000 this year, so you’ll maintain your 24% tax bracket, and you will NOT owe the extra $240 for the $1,000 in the 24% bracket NOR the $640 for the $2,000 in the 32% bracket you would have owed if you collected the income. Essentially, delaying that $3,000 in this scenario would save you $880.
#2) Increase Expenses.
Again, assuming you’re filing on a cash-basis as most small businesses and self-employed do, business purchases you make before January 1st are deductible on your tax return.
How does this work? Increase your expenses–spend more money before January 1st.
This can help you & your business tax-wise because you’ll subtract the amount you spent from the total amount of income you brought in. What’s left is what you get taxed on.
How effective is it? Moderately effective to Extremely effective.
This tip can rate as moderately effective because it’s not a one-for-one. Meaning, if you buy a $2,000 Mac for business, it probably won’t decrease your tax bill by $2,000. Now, to be clear, this WILL decrease your tax bill. But how much? Depends on several factors…
First, are you going to depreciate it? The general wisdom would be that you have to depreciate something like a computer (and most taxer filers will assume this unless you specify otherwise), however, there are special elections you can make that would allow you to deduct more this year (which would then decrease your tax bill by more).
Second, we go back to the whole tax rate thing again… Say your extra $2,000 expense happens when you’re in the 35% tax rate. By spending the extra $2,000 now, you will avoid paying the $700 in taxes you’d owe if you hadn’t made extra purchases.
This tip can also rate as extremely effective. And that’s because things like retirement contributions and gifts to charities can majorly affect your tax bill in a good way, and much closer to the 1:1 rate. Make sure you get professional help from someone who takes your WHOLE tax situation into account (business & personal) when you consider these options, because it’s actually possible to make retirement contributions and give to charity and still NOT get to deduct anything. It all depends on thresholds and how much you contributed & gave as well as if you’re personal taking standard deductions, itemize, etc.
If you need help getting clarity or mapping out your tax & financial situation, this is exactly what I love to do! Feel free to schedule a free chat or book an hour consult to get the clarity you need.
Over to you–
What to do you think about these two simple tax tips? And what’s your favorite end-of-the-year financial move? Share below!