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Four Basics to Warm Up To
By Jason Watson, CPA
Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Before we get into which tax deductions and tax moves you can take, there are some basic concepts to help formulate your thinking.
Marginal Tax Rate
Quick lesson on small business tax deductions. When you write a check and it has a tax savings element (office expense, 401k, IRA, charity, etc.) it is not a dollar for dollar savings. For example, if you are in the 22% marginal tax bracket, you must write a check for $4,000 just to save $880 in taxes. Keep this in mind as you read this information on tax deductions. Also keep in mind that cash is king, and that perhaps paying a few more taxes today with the added flexibility of cash in the bank can be comforting. More on this later in the chapter.
Cash Savings or Tax Savings
You can save $50,000 today! Yes, today! You just need to write a $150,000 check to your church. Huh? That might not sound like the best idea to a lot of people since so much cash is leaving. Another way to look at this is this- most people say “I want to save taxes” but really what they are saying is “I want to save cash.”
In other words, most people are in the cash-saving business not the tax-saving business. If we can do both, great. However, most tax-savings moves take cash, and cash is what you want to keep. So keep this concept in mind as you review business deductions below.
At the end of your life, you’ll measure your financial success on the wealth you built not the tax you saved. We agree that a part of wealth building includes tax savings, but be careful not to sacrifice wealth for the thrill of a tax deduction (or deferral). Here is an example- let’s say you stuff all your available cash into a tax-advantaged retirement account such as a 401k. A few years go by and a great rental comes on the market but your cash is all tied up in a 401k. So, you sacrificed potential building of wealth by not having an intermediate investment strategy for the sake of tax deferrals.
Here’s the trick. The Holy Grail if you will. You need to find a way to deduct money you are already spending. Read that again. For example, if you have a travel budget then you are already comfortable with a certain amount of money leaving your person. Let’s find a way to deduct it through your business.
Automobile depreciation? Same thing. You are already comfortable with automobiles losing thousands of dollars in value especially in the early years, so let’s a find a way to make this degradation in value a tax windfall.
The remainder of this chapter is written to help educate yourself so the money you are already spending can be positioned in such a fashion that it becomes a legitimate small business tax deduction. Remember that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. The second greatest trick was finding a way to deduct the expense. You gotta love The Usual Suspects. Classic!
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