Someone recently asked me what they could do now to make tax time easier for this upcoming tax season.
The best thing you can do is to think about taxes before then year ends. Most people wait until the tax filing deadline before they ask how they can reduce their income taxes. Unfortunately, once 2007 ends, there's very little you can do to minimize your taxes for 2007.
To start your tax planning, you should review your income, deductions and withholdings before the year ends. Which means you need to get your bookkeeping caught up! You should use a software program, such as QuickBooks, Quicken Home and Business, or spreadsheets to keep track of your income and expenses for your business.
Once you're bookkeeping is caught up... do you expect your home business to have a profit or a loss this year?
If you have a profit, here are some tax planning tips to help minimize your home business taxes this year:
1. Defer your income. If you have a home based business and it looks like you'll have a good profit this year, consider invoicing your clients in January instead of December, to defer the income to next year. Or, just wait until the end of December to send invoices. Any money you receive in January will go on your 2008 tax return, not 2007.
2. Accelerate expenses. Do you need to purchase any inventory? What about supplies? Does your computer need to be replaced? If you've got a profit for 2007, consider purchasing inventory, supplies or other items that will need to be replaced soon this year to reduce your taxable profit.
In addition, if you itemize your tax deductions, make sure you pay all mortgage payments, property tax, medical expenses, etc. this year, even if they aren't due 'till next year, to help increase your tax deductions for this year.
3. Contribute the maximum amount to retirement plans. As a home based business owner, you have several retirement plans to choose from. You can setup a traditional IRA, a SEP IRA, a Simple IRA, or even a 401K. The maximum contribution amounts vary based on the retirement plan, but these plans allow contributions from $4,000 up to $44,000 per year. Contributing to a retirement plan is a great way to maximize your retirement savings and to minimize your taxes at the same time.
4. Give to charity. Although charitable donations don't reduce your business income, they do reduce your taxable income if you itemize your deductions. Gifts of cash or goods are a great way to help reduce your tax bill this year.
On the flip side, if you expect a larger profit next year, or if you expect to jump into a higher tax bracket next year, it's best to report as much income this year, and to defer as many expenses as possible 'till next year.
Either way, year end tax planning can really help minimize your taxes. But you have to make it a point to review your taxes before the year ends. Once 2007 is gone, so are your tax planning opportunities for 2007.
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