A sole proprietorship is just a business owned by a single individual. The earnings, expenses, profits and losses of a business need to be reported on the individual owner’s state and federal tax returns. The Internal Revenue Service provides a form, Schedule C, for reporting business-related income and deductions. The IRS also provides the sole proprietor with several categories of tax deductions related to running the business and being self-employed.
The IRS allows a sole proprietor to deduct operating expenses, the costs of doing business, on his individual tax return. Generally “ordinary expenses” and “necessary expenses” are tax deductible. Ordinary expenses are those costs commonly associated with doing business in a certain area of trade. Necessary expenses are the costs arising from anything that is helpful and appropriate to doing business, but need not be considered indispensable in day-to-day operations.
Administrative and Tax-Related Expenses
A sole proprietor can deduct the administrative expenses of his business, such as the cost of maintaining a home office and expenses arising from the business use of a car. The deductions associated with a home office may include mortgage interest, utilities and repairs on the home. The cost of trade or professional licensing and insurance are similarly deductible. Preparing a tax return and certain taxes paid out, in connection with doing business, to various federal, state, local and foreign taxation authorities may also be tax deductible.
Sole proprietors are generally considered self-employed and, as such, they must pay self-employment tax as well as income tax. The self employment tax is a Social Security and Medicare tax for those that work for themselves. However, a business owner can deduct any expenses related to being self-employed, such as the cost of buying health insurance and contributions to a retirement plan.
Costs, including depreciation, arise from tangible and intangible sources. The cost of starting and organizing a business, leasing goods or property necessary to conduct business as well as travel and advertising expenses are all examples of tangible expenses. An intangible expense would include costs arising from things such as obtaining a business trademark, patent, copyrighting business related patterns or songs, and even the costs of maintaining a trade secret. Both tangible and intangible expenses are tax deductible.
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Christine Varad is a writer and editor specializing in legal topics. She earned a J.D. in law from New England Law and a B.F.A. in design from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.