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For most home business owners, tax deductions may be the key that can help put a little extra cash back into their pocket. Tax deductions vary from business to business but it is worth your time to familiarize yourself with some of these common tax deductions. 

First, determine if you qualify for a home business tax deduction. A home office is generally defined as a place where you meet with clients, patients, or customers. Or if this part of the house is used exclusively for business purposes. Most people have a general image that comes to mind when they hear the words ‘home office.’ In reality, tax deductions can apply to a variety of places. Your home office can be a garage, basement, or a studio. If you do qualify as a home business, it is crucial to keep all records, receipts, and paperwork that you have accumulated throughout the year. 

It will make tax time a much less stressful experience for the home business owner. Do not overlook the small things. This can be as simple as keeping the receipts when you purchase paper, staples, or toner. Any item that is purchased for your home business is usually considered a tax deduction. This may seem tedious and unimportant but nothing could be further from the truth. You might be amazed when all these little things add up at the end of the year. 

Home business deductions can be separated into two categories. The first is for Direct Expenses. These are expenses that are needed for your actual home office. Direct expenses include office furniture, decorating costs, or equipment. Indirect Expenses are the expenses that must be paid the entire house. This includes heating, electricity, or mortgage interest payments. You can deduct the percentage of your business expenses from your utility costs. 

Another tax deduction to consider is telephone expenses. If you have one telephone line, the IRS is usually not going to believe that you use this only for your home business. The second phone line installed in your home is purely one hundred percent deductible. Another common deduction that is often missed is the lost distance charges incurred because of business calls. 

An overlooked tax deduction for some home business owners are the meal expenses when they entertain an employee, a customer, or a client. Save all your receipts from these business dinners. It is possible to deduct fifty percent of meal expenses. Education expenses can also be a tax deduction if it is required by law to update your skills or if you are trying to enhance your skills for your current position. 

Most home business owners use a vehicle as a means of transportation for their business. This vehicle can be used for running to the post office, or meeting with a client. Keep a log book in the vehicle to keep track of the mileage on these errands. Vehicles can be vital to run your home business, and overtime these kinds of charges can your profits. There are many valuable tax deductions for vehicles, such as car repairs and car insurance. Airline fare can be another costly, but necessary aspect for home business owners. The IRS does allow your trip expense as another tax deduction. 

As you can see, home business owners have a variety of options when it comes to tax deductions. Remember to keep records of all your home business activities and consult with a tax advisor to get the best deductions for your home business.

The last thing most people think about when starting a business is doing taxes. But proper planning will make doing your taxes much easier - and keep the IRS happy! 

Here are 3 simple tips for keeping proper records: 

1. Whenever you buy anything for your business, keep the receipt!

Not only will this make record keeping a lot simpler, but if you are ever audited (having your tax return reviewed in detail by the IRS), you can prove your expenses, and save yourself mo...


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Article Body:
The last thing most people think about when starting a business is doing taxes. But proper planning will make doing your taxes much easier - and keep the IRS happy! 

Here are 3 simple tips for keeping proper records: 

1. Whenever you buy anything for your business, keep the receipt!

Not only will this make record keeping a lot simpler, but if you are ever audited (having your tax return reviewed in detail by the IRS), you can prove your expenses, and save yourself money. 

2. Write down all your expenses and income as they happen.

As your business grows, you'll have more and more activities to keep you busy. The last thing you'll want to do each April 15 is to organize your records for the year. So, it's a good idea to write down all your financial activities as they happen. You'll find preparing your taxes will take much less time if you are organized. 

3. Learn how to save money on your taxes.

As you learn about taxes, you'll find that there are many deductions (expenses that reduce your income, and therefore your taxes) you can take that are not obvious. When using your home office, you may be able to deduct (at least partially) repairs you make around the house, utilities, your home's value at the time you start your business, and more. 

The more you know about taxes, and the more organized you are in keeping records, the more time and money you'll save at the end of every year! 

What happens if you don't keep proper records?

Individuals with small businesses are the most likely to have their tax returns audited by the IRS. If you don't have a receipt, you will likely lose the deduction and owe the IRS money. 

And while an audit does not have to be feared, you should be prepared - the more organized your records, the easier it will be to prove your case. 

If you don't have one, get a file box and some folders at your local office supply store (these supplies are deductible, so keep your receipts!) and create a filing system for your business. Put all your receipts in the proper folders, and put them in a safe place. 

Another way to save yourself time is to record all of your business transactions - expenses and income - on a spreadsheet on your computer. Keep a column for income, advertising, supplies, etc. You don't need to be a computer expert. But keeping accurate, organized records will help you save time when you fill out your taxes at the end of the year. 

And it can help you plan, by giving you a snapshot or your financial progress whenever you need it. 

Which may come in handy when you need to place ads, borrow money - or take a much needed and well-deserved vacation!

3 Tips For Keeping Proper Tax Records For Your Home Business - And Keeping The IRS Happy!

Property taxes are a substantial expense for Texas homeowners, averaging about $3,600 annually. To reduce this expense, property owners should annually review and consider appealing property taxes. While there is no guarantee that an appeal will be successful, a recent survey conducted by O'Connor & Associates indicates that 70% of property tax appeals are successful. 

Since the mortgage company typically disperses payments, property taxes tend to be a stealth tax. Although the homeowner writes a check, including taxes and insurance monthly, the property tax component is not evident. The property tax component can become quite evident when the homeowner is asked to fund a deficit in the escrow account. 

Although 70% of property tax appeals are successful, only 7% of homeowners appeal each year. Research indicates five primary reasons homeowners do not appeal: 
1.The process seems overwhelming and they do not know how to appeal, 
2.They do not think an appeal is likely to be successful, 
3.They think their home's assessed value is below market value and there is no basis for appealing, 
4.They do not understand they can appeal on unequal appraisal, 
5.They are busy and do not want to set aside time, given the presumption that "you can't fight city hall".
Why appeal? 

Consider an appeal for a $150,000 house where the property taxes are reduced by 5%. This would reduce the assessed value by $7,500 and the property taxes by $225, based on a 3% tax rate. Since the typical appeal hearing takes less than an hour, these are meaningful savings for the time involved. Regularly appealing your property taxes will minimize the value, so you are assessed for less than most of your neighbors. Most of the property tax appeals are resolved at the informal hearing, which is the first step in the process. 

How to appeal 

The first step to appealing annually is to send a written notice to the appraisal review board (ARB) for the county in which your home is located. Even if you have not received a notice of assessed value from the appraisal district, file a notice of appeal by May 31st for the following reasons: 
1.The notice of assessed value can get lost in the mail, 
2.A notice of assessed value is not necessary unless your assessed value increases by $1,000, and 
3.You should appeal annually
You can file a notice of appeal by utilizing the Comptroller's form available at www.cutmytaxes.com or by sending a letter to the ARB. The letter to the ARB simply needs to identify the property being appealed and the basis for your appeal. You should always appeal on both market value and unequal appraisal. Since the appraisal district staff is extremely busy during late May and early June, sending any data on the value of your property tax is probably a waste of time. At the same time you send your notice of appeal to the ARB, send a "House Bill 201" request to the chief appraiser at the appraisal district. The House Bill 201 request will provide you a volume of information at a modest price. 

Reasons for obtaining House Bill 201 information 

Since most homeowners are not familiar with House Bill 201, you may be wondering what it is and when it became available. House Bill 201 is the term used by property tax consultants to describe provision 41.461 of the Texas Property Tax Code. This section reads as follows: 
"at least 14 days before hearing on a protest, the chief appraiser shall: Ö inform the property owner that the owner or the agent of the owner may inspect and may obtain a copy of the data, schedules, formulas, and all other information the chief appraiser plans to introduce at the hearing to establish any matter at issue."
The property tax code further provides the chief appraiser the right to charge up to $15 for each residence, and up to $25 for each commercial property owner for this information. However, there are limits on the cost per page an appraisal district can charge. Practically speaking, the maximum charge is $1 to $2 for a residence. In Harris County, most homeowners can print this information from the appraisal district's web site once an appeal has been filed using the "I file" system. 

This section of the tax code was added in 1991, but many appraisal districts have attempted to ignore this section of the property tax code for years and some still do. After discussing this section of the Texas Property Tax Code on a radio show in 2005, several listeners called back a week or two later to report certain appraisal districts were claiming to be unaware of this section. When O'Connor & Associates sent House Bill 201 requests to appraisal districts in 2005, some called us and said "what do you mean you want our information, we plan to use your information at the hearing to prove our value." While these examples seem quaint and cute, it is surprising that 15 years after taxpayer friendly legislation has been passed, that appraisal districts are still ignoring property owners and tax consultants who ask for this information. 

There are at least seven reasons to utilize House Bill 201 to obtain the information the appraisal district will use at the hearing: 
1.It is an effective way to obtain information regarding both market value and unequal appraisal for your property tax appeal, 
2.You will receive the appraisal district's information regarding the size, condition and other qualitative and quantitative data for your house, 
3.The information can be obtained for a nominal cost, 
4.It is helpful to know what information your adversary will be able to use at the hearing, 
5.Making the request limits what information the appraisal district can present at the hearing. If you do not request their information prior to the hearing, they can use any information available to them at the hearing. However, if you request the appraisal district information using a House Bill 201 request, they may only use information previously provided to you, 
6.If they do not provide you information on market value or unequal appraisal in the House Bill 201 request, you win by default at the ARB hearing, and 
7.In many cases, the appraisal district House Bill 201 information clearly supports a lower value.
Preparing for the hearing 

When you receive the appraisal district House Bill 201 information, start by reviewing the appraisal district's description of your home and ask yourself these questions: 
1.Is the year built accurate? 
2.Are the qualities and amenities accurate?
If the appraisal district overstates either the quantity or quality of improvements to your property, this is an excellent means to reduce your property taxes both for the current year and subsequent years. 

Filing a 2525c Appeal 

If the appraisal district has overstated the size of your house by more than 5% to 10%, even if you did not file a property tax appeal in prior years, you should consider filing a 2525c appeal. This will allow you to reduce the assessed value of your property for the current year and for prior years. 

For a North Texas Home Appraiser visit www.Dfwappraisal.net


Appealing Taxes for your Home - The Basics