10 ways small business owners can reduce their taxable income

A woman holding up her hands, showing all of her fingers.

When it comes to financial planning, one of the most common concerns for small business owners is how to reduce taxable income.

The most obvious benefit, of course, is paying less in taxes. However, there are several other strategic and practical advantages of reducing your taxable income, which can, in turn, help you:

  • Improve your cash flow. Additional cash can be crucial for day-to-day operations, especially if your business is operating with tight margins.

  • Build a safety cushion. The money you save on taxes can help fund emergency savings to withstand economic downturns, market fluctuations and other financial challenges.

  • Reinvest in your business. Do you need to purchase new equipment? Hire additional staff? Expand your marketing efforts? Develop new products? Enter a new market? Additional cash can help with any of those goals.

  • Plan for retirement. Tax strategies that maximize your contributions to retirement accounts can prepare you for the future and reduce your taxable income.

  • Attract and retain employees. The savings realized from tax reductions could be used to enhance your business’s employee benefits, bonuses or salaries.

10 ways you could reduce taxable income next year

As a small business owner, you can use a number of strategies to reduce your taxable income. We should note, however, that tax laws can vary significantly, depending on your location and the type of business you operate. As a result, consulting with a tax professional is always advisable.

Here are 10 common methods business owners use to reduce their taxable income, along with links to IRS information where applicable.

  1. Business expense deductions—Ensure that you’re deducting all the legitimate business expenses available to you (and keeping thorough records of these expenses). This includes office supplies, business travel, staff salaries and other operational costs.

  2. Home office deductions—If you work from home, you may be eligible to deduct a portion of your home expenses, like utilities, rent or mortgage interest, based on the part of your home you use for business.

  3. Retirement contributions—Contributing to a retirement plan can reduce your taxable income. SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA or solo 401(k) plans are options for small business owners.

  4. Health insurance premiums—If you’re self-employed, you might be able to deduct the premiums you pay for medical, dental and some long-term care insurance for yourself and your dependents.

  5. Depreciation—If your business buys equipment or property, you can depreciate the cost over several years, which can be deducted from your taxable income.

  6. Education and training expenses—Costs for education and training that maintain or improve skills required in your business may be deductible. Also, offering an educational assistance program for your employees now has additional benefits that can help you attract and retain talent.

  7. Hiring family membersEmploying family members can shift income from your higher tax bracket to their lower one, and you can deduct their salaries as business expenses.

  8. Business structure—Sometimes, changing your business structure can result in tax savings. For example, some businesses could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation instead of a sole proprietorship.

  9. Tax credits—Take advantage of any tax credits for which your business is eligible. These can include credits for hiring certain types of employees, implementing environmentally friendly practices, or research and development.

  10. Investments in technology or equipmentSection 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment or software purchased or financed during the tax year.

For more information, check out the IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center, which has a wealth of resources for taxpayers who file Form 1040 or 1040-SR, Schedules C, E, F or Form 2106, as well as small businesses with assets under $10 million.

Keep in mind that as a small business owner, the key to reducing taxable income lies in understanding the tax code and its implications for your specific business. To ensure that all deductions and strategies are legitimate and in line with current tax laws, it’s important to regularly consult with a tax professional who can help you navigate all the complexities and changes—and stay compliant.