How Do I? Maximize Start-up Deductions for a New Business

Starting a new business venture can prove exciting, but rather costly. There are certain tax advantages that can help alleviate some of the financial burden associated with entrepreneurship.

A taxpayer may start a business by forming an entirely new business or acquiring an existing business. One of the most important decisions a business owner should make is to choose a type of business entity. If the business is entirely new, the taxpayer will be able to choose the type of entity from inception; however, if the taxpayer purchases an entity that differs from the entity of choice, the taxpayer much convert the purchased entity to the entity of choice. Be aware that each type of entity—be it sole proprietorship, corporation, or partnership—comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Regardless of the type of business entity that a taxpayer decides on for his or her new business, a portion of the start-up costs may be deducted, with amortization available for the remainder. Start-up costs are those incurred in investigating or creating an active trade or business before the day on which the active trade or business begins. Further, expenses paid or incurred before a business commences operations are start-up costs. Such costs do not include interest, taxes or research, nor do they include experimental expenditures. In addition, the cost must be one that would have been deductible if incurred in connection with an existing business in the same field.

Eligible start-up costs fall within three categories: investigatory, business start-up, and pre-opening costs. Start-up expenses include:

  • Advertising costs;
  • Training costs
  • Travel expenses incurred in lining up distributors, suppliers, or customers; and
  • Fees incurred for executives, consultants, and similar professional services.

Start-up expenses do not include:  

  • Acquisition costs;
  • Amounts paid for the purchase of property;
  • Organizational costs; or
  • Deductible ordinary and necessary business expenses paid or incurred in connection with an expansion of a business.

A taxpayer beginning a new business can take a first-year deduction on the first $5,000 of start-up costs. Note that for tax years beginning in 2010, the deduction is $10,000. The $5,000 deduction is reduced dollar-for-dollar to the extent start-up expenses exceed $50,000. Any excess amount must be amortized over a 180-month period. For start-up expenses incurred in 2010, the deduction is limited to $10,000, and are reduced to the extent that expenses exceed $60,000.

Partnerships and corporations are deemed to have made an election to deduct start-up expenditures for the tax year in which the business begins an active trade or business. Such business entities may choose to forgo the deemed election by affirmatively electing to capitalize its start-up expenditures on a timely filed federal income tax return for the tax year in which an active trade or business begins.

To ensure you are maximizing the start-up related deduction for a new business, it is important to consider each cost incurred. If you would like assistance in determining the costs that qualify for the start-up cost deduction, please call our office at your earliest convenience to arrange an appointment.

Written by

Steve Moss, CPA is a partner at Holden Moss CPAs and loves helping businesses and their owners grow to be the very best they can be. Our other offices include Raleigh, Oxford and Warrenton. We are a little different at Holden Moss CPAs. While we still provide traditional tax and accounting services, years ago we realized many clients wanted help in running their businesses and were hungry for ideas, solutions, strategy, and execution. In response, we expanded our skill set and joined Ran One, a global network of business consulting firms. Our membership with Ran One gives us access to proprietary resources and analytical software to help our clients grow, become more profitable and valuable, and have the lifestyle they desire. Now, blended into the fabric of our normal tax and accounting needs, we are focused on our clients’ businesses in a very different way. While our approach is not right for everyone, for those whom it is, incredible results may be obtained. Whether you have a new, or established, business, or for those in transition of selling or retiring, or for those who simply need to develop an exit strategy or succession plan, our unique approach to client service may be the edge you need.

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