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Small Business and Home Office Improvements = Big Tax Deductions
by Mike Tuma Mon, 02/18/2013 - 20:12
Besides spring, April brings two other things with it: cleaning and taxes. Even though we don't usually anxiously await either, if you work from home or own your own small business, I have good news for you that will help to soften the blow. Many of the improvements and upkeep for your office are tax-deductible! If you complete a few, simple DIY projects now, you can write-off some or all of the cost when you file your taxes next year. And isn't that something to look forward to when April rolls around again?
An ever-increasing number of small business owners work from home and when you have a dedicated home office, the IRS allows you to claim deductions for things they normally wouldn't. Although it's a good idea to check with your tax professional regarding exactly how to write-off these items (all at once or on a depreciating schedule over time), they all provide some degree of tax relief. To take advantage of the deductions your home office allows, try some of these projects.
Whether you hire it out or do it yourself, carpet cleaning is an office expense that the IRS allows you to write-off come tax time. Save money now by cutting out the labor costs of a cleaning crew and save even more money down the road when you file. Plus, you get to enjoy the benefits of working in a clean environment in the meantime.
You can rent a carpet cleaner from your local home-improvement store, along with the shampoo, and complete this project in a weekend. You'll need to remove everything from the room and allow at least 24 hours for the carpet to dry before moving everything back in. Make sure to keep windows open if possible and use a fan to speed up the process. Rinse out the bucket and wipe down the machine before you return it to avoid additional costs.
Power Wash the Building
While we're cleaning things up, don't forget your building's exterior. If you own the building for your business, you can write-off the entire amount, and if you work out of a dedicated home office, you can write-off a portion (based on the amount of square footage used for business purposes).
You can also rent these washers from the store where you rented your carpet cleaner. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions that come with the washer regarding distance from the cleaning surface (usually, you should stand 6 inches – 2 feet away from whatever you're cleaning) and the nozzle attachment you should use. These also differ based on the material you are cleaning (concrete, brick, wood or vinyl siding, etc.) and the amount of pressure you need to clean the surface (light pollen or heavy grime, etc.). Use appropriate safety gear and get to washing!
Plant a Container Garden
Don't forget to spruce up your building's front steps or your home office with a plant. Not only do these potted beauties improve the indoor air quality of your office but they also add a nice little bonus to your tax return!
Choose the plant based on the amount of accessible light in the space and according to how much care they require. Some great options for indoor growing include pothos (good for tables), philodendrons (add height to filing cabinets, etc.), spider plants (try this from a hanging basket), or the trusty cactus (place it on a shelf or otherwise out of reach to avoid injury). You can write-off the actual plant and the cost of the container – save even more by making it yourself!
Office Furniture – Refinish a Desk & a Hanging Wall Mirror
Since we're talking about making things yourself, let's tackle two simple DIY office furnishing updates that are tax-deductible: a desk and a wall mirror.
Begin by setting up your "refinishing station" outside, far enough away from the building that you won't get paint on it but close enough that you can connect an extension cord for the sander. Spread out a tarp or an old sheet to act as a buffer between the items and the driveway or yard and make sure it's large enough that the desk, all drawers and the mirror will fit on it, without touching each other, while they dry. Now, simply bring out your furniture and you're ready to get started:
For the Desk:
- Remove all of the hardware – this includes pulls, knobs, and hinges that are visible from the exterior of the desk. Make sure to label the parts accordingly so you know where they go once you are ready to re-assemble.
- Remove all of the drawers. Again, pay attention to which drawer goes with which opening: sometimes, especially with older desks, the drawers pick a favorite slot and will absolutely not cooperate if you try to relocate them to new homes.
- Sand every surface. Here's where the real outdoor power kicks in so make sure you have gloves and appropriate eye coverage. By moving the entire project outside, you have eliminated the need for ventilation inside (to deal with the dust) and the messy clean up once you're finished sanding!
- Wipe off the dust and apply a stain or paint of your choosing. Using gloves, follow the instructions that come with the stain and if you're using spray paint, be sure to apply an even coat.
For the Mirror:
- Using a piece of cardboard, cover the glass entirely and tape the edges with painter's tape, ensuring you cover all exposed areas of glass.
- Depending on the mirror frame, use the electric sander or individual pieces of sandpaper and hand-sand the wood.
- Wipe off the dust and apply your paint.
Once both items are dry, move them back inside for an artistic touch and a custom desk that you have refinished yourself!
Keep your receipts for your accountant and start improving your business today! What are some of your favorite tax-deductible projects for your dedicated home office or small business building?