As the end of the year approaches, turn your attention to ways you can reduce your 2016 tax liability. Here are suggestions.
- Business equipment. Take advantage of end-of-year sales on business equipment. For 2016, a maximum Section 179 deduction of $500,000 and 50% bonus depreciation are generally available for qualified property placed in service anytime during the year. Be aware that special limits apply to vehicles.
- Business trips. When you travel to wrap up year-end business deals, you can write off your expenses – including airfare, lodging, and 50% of the cost of meals – if the primary motive of the trip is business-related. Costs attributable to personal side trips are nondeductible. If you travel by car, deduct actual business-related auto costs or a flat rate of 54 cents per mile (plus tolls and parking fees).
- Entertainment and meals. Generally, you can deduct 50% of the cost of entertainment and meals that precede or follow a “substantial business discussion.” For example, you might treat a client to dinner and drinks after completing a contract earlier in the day. In this case, you can include 50% of the expenses for the client and yourself, as well as for spouses and significant others.
- Company outings. Generally, deductions for business entertainment and meals are limited to 50% of the cost. However, if you throw a company-wide holiday party before year-end, you might be able to deduct 100% of the cost when you meet certain requirements, such as inviting your entire staff.
- Hire your child. Does your teenaged child want a job to help pay for holiday gifts? If you hire your child, reasonable wages paid for actual services rendered are deductible, the same as wages of other employees. The wages will be taxable to your child at your child's tax rate, which may be lower than your rate or that of your business.