LLC Tax Deductions (What Expenses Can You Write Off?)

Jon Morgan
Published by Jon Morgan | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: May 3, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Lou Viveros, Growth & Transition Advisor
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As a limited liability company (LLC), understanding which expenses you can write off is crucial for maximizing your tax savings and optimizing your business finances.

Drawing from my experience as an expert in business management, I’ll share my insights on tax deductions by providing examples of deductible expenses applicable to LLCs.

Did you know that the way you structure your LLC can dramatically change your tax obligations?

Let's explore how you can leverage this to your advantage.

Quick Summary

  • The expenses that can be written off for an LLC  are related to owners home office setup, including rent or mortgage interest, phone, internet, and utility bills.
  • LLCs can deduct a portion of their business expenses to reduce their taxable income, resulting in potential tax savings.
  • The IRS typically permits deducting up to 50% of business meal expenses.
  • I believe that understanding and utilizing tax deductions for LLCs is crucial for optimizing financial stability and minimizing tax burdens, marking it as a smart financial strategy for business owners.


What LLC Expenses Can You Write Off?

A woman holding a sum of money as LLC expenses that she can write off

When managing your expenses, you must be aware of potential write-offs that can significantly impact your financial situation.

Here are the expenses you can write off:

1. Expenses Of Starting A Business

Starting a business involves various expenses. LLC set-up costs are categorized as capital or operating expenses.

Capital expenses are those costs associated with the start-up and expansion of a business.

On the other hand, operating expenses are those incurred to run a business's day-to-day operations.

Such expenses could be written off in the tax year you incur them, even if you only pay them the following year.

However, costs must be claimed in full for the current taxable year and not be part of an accrual system or another method that defers expenses to an earlier period. The costs of starting a business in an LLC are no different.

2. Home Office Expenses

Businesses can write off home office expenses without needing a specific setup, as long as part of their home is used exclusively and regularly for business. They're eligible to deduct a portion of yearly rent or mortgage interest, along with phone, internet, and utilities, if the business operates from a separate location.
Owners must record daily business activity time and, for product-selling businesses, inventory and shipping costs to qualify.

Business income is categorized as self-employed income, which differs from income earned as an employee. This means that owners must pay self-employment taxes on their income.

Businesses can deduct their business expenses from their income to reduce their taxable income.

This can help lower the amount of self-employment taxes that are owed.

Business owners should keep track of their business-related expenses including the cost of equipment, advertising, and travel.

3. Business Use Of Your Car

An image of a man holding paper works in front of a car

If you use your car for business purposes, you can write it off on your taxes.

As of 2021, the IRS allows LLC owners to deduct 56 cents per mile for business driving, emphasizing the need for accurate mileage tracking and record-keeping.

There are a few things to keep in mind when deducting car expenses [1]:

  • The car must be used primarily for business purposes
  • You must keep track of the miles driven for business purposes
  • You can only deduct the percentage of the car expenses related to business use
  • You can't deduct any expenses related to commuting

To write off a car on your taxes, you must keep track of the number of miles driven for business purposes each year.

Since this information changes from person to person and company, it is best to speak with a tax professional. You can only deduct the percentage of the car expenses related to business use.

4. Business Meals

Business meals can be a part of LLC tax deductions, but there are some things to remember. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows LLCs to deduct a portion of these meal expenses as legitimate business expenses.

It's important to note that not all expenses associated with business meals are fully deductible. The IRS generally allows a qualified business income deduction of up to 50% of the total meal expense, according to the H&R Block [2].

However, there are specific criteria that need to be met to claim this deduction as below:

  • The meal must be ordinary and necessary for your business
  • You need to maintain proper documentation for the business meal
  • The deduction should apply to meal costs only and does not cover entertainment expenses like tickets to shows or sporting events

5. Travel Expenses

Miniature car with coins and calculator expenses concept

Travel expenses can be an expensive part of owning a business, but they are often tax-deductible.

Internal Revenue Service rules require employees to keep track of their travel expenses and fill out Form 2106 if they wish to claim deductions [3].

The IRS allows business owners to deduct travel expenses in certain circumstances.

The most common way to claim a tax deduction for travel expenses is the actual expense method. This means you can only deduct the amount exceeding your expenses by 2% of your adjusted gross income.

You must track all your costs, including airfare, hotel, rental cars, parking fees, and gas.

You cannot deduct meals or entertainment from the IRS, but you can claim a meal deduction if you travel away from home overnight [4].

To claim a tax deduction for your travel expenses, you must have records of every expense paid during the year.

6. Education Expenses

IRS rules allow businesses to deduct employee education and training programs, including tuition, books, supplies, and other related costs.

These expenses must be for education in your current trade or business or to improve skills required in that recent trade.

IRS rules also state that education cannot prepare someone for a new business, occupation, or job.

A common IRS rule is that an employee's education expense is tax-deductible when that education meets at least one of the following IRS criteria:

  • Education maintains or improves skills needed in your current job
  • Education is required by law or regulations for your present work
  • Your present employer or the IRS requires education to keep your salary, status, or job
  • The education is part of a program that will qualify you for a new business or occupation, even if you don't intend to enter that business or occupation

7. Business Interest and Bank Fees

Calculator and document with a paper that has a written "FEES"

Another common expense for LLCs is bank fees and interest. Many business owners need to be made aware these expenses can be written off on their taxes.

Bank fees and interest payments related to the operation of your business are tax-deductible.

To claim this tax deduction, you must have records of the amount of interest you paid and the number of bank fees you paid during the year.

If you have a home office that you use for your business, some or all of your mortgage interest can also be deducted from Schedule C. The IRS allows business owners to deduct 100% of their business interest.

8. Medical Expenses

Another common expense for LLCs is medical insurance premiums.

IRS rules allow businesses to deduct insurance premiums paid by the company on behalf of its employees.

The insurance must be qualified under the Internal Revenue Code Section 419A and meet IRS requirements [5]. A qualified plan includes insurance for medical care of yourself, your spouse, and your dependents.

This insurance may also cover accidents or long-term care. To claim this tax deduction, you must file IRS Form 8929 as an attachment to Schedule C. You report the total insurance cost on line 12 of Form 1040 and deduct it from your income taxes.

"You can deduct all the insurance premium payments from your tax return. In addition, if your medical expenses add up to more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, you may be able to write some of them off on your taxes."

- Sandra Habiger, Certified Public Accountant

9. Advertising and Promotion

In most limited liability companies (LLCs), advertising and promotion expenses are taxable. This means the company must pay taxes on these expenses like any other business expense. However, a way to write off these expenses in an LLC is through legal fees.

When you create an LLC, you must file LLC articles of organization with your state.

Along with the articles, you must also file an LLC operating agreement. This document is your company's bylaws, outlining how the company will be run.

The LLC operating agreement should include a section on advertising and promotion expenses. This section should specify that these expenses are tax-deductible.

If the IRS ever audits you, you must provide copies of your articles of organization and LLC operating agreement to prove that these expenses are tax-deductible.

Keeping these documents on file ensures that your advertising and promotion expenses are written off correctly.

10. Business Insurance

A man using his computer for business insurance

Business Insurance can be a great way to protect your business in the event of an unexpected occurrence.

However, when operating as an LLC, you may have some instances where you can write off your insurance premiums.

First, when using the insurance to protect an asset owned by the LLC and if the LLC is being used as a contractor.

In this case, the premiums can be deducted as a business expense as long as the insurance policy covers any liabilities that may arise from work being done.

The final instance is if a partner or a member of the LLC has purchased an insurance policy.

To deduct the premiums, you have to provide specific documentation showing who purchased the insurance and for what it was purchased.

Related Articles:

Deductions Tailored to Your Business: Unlocking Industry-Specific Tax Benefits for Your LLC

When it comes to maximizing your LLC's tax deductions, one size doesn't fit all. Your industry can play a significant role in determining which deductions are available to you.

Below, I will delve into the world of industry-specific deductions, revealing how your LLC can take advantage of these tailored tax benefits.

The Power of Industry Knowledge

As a savvy LLC owner, you're likely already aware that the tax code is a complex maze. However, what many entrepreneurs overlook is the fact that the tax code contains specific provisions that cater to different industries. These provisions are designed to support businesses in various sectors and encourage growth.

Examples of Industry-Specific Deductions

To illustrate the point, let's consider a few examples:

  • Restaurants and Hospitality: If you run an LLC in the restaurant or hospitality industry, you may be eligible for deductions related to food and beverage costs, employee meals, and even renovation expenses. These deductions can significantly reduce your taxable income.
  • Technology and Innovation: Tech-based LLCs can benefit from deductions related to research and development (R&D) expenses. These deductions can incentivize innovation and technological advancements within your business.
  • Real Estate: If your LLC operates in the real estate sector, you can explore deductions related to property depreciation, mortgage interest, and property management expenses. These deductions can make a substantial difference in your bottom line.

Conducting an Industry-Specific Tax Analysis

To make the most of industry-specific deductions, it's crucial to conduct a thorough analysis of your business's operations. Consider consulting with a tax professional who specializes in your industry. They can help you identify deductions that are often overlooked.

Stay Up-to-Date

Tax laws and regulations can change, and industry-specific deductions may evolve over time. It's essential to stay informed about any updates or changes that could impact your LLC's tax strategy. Regularly check with industry associations and government sources for the latest information.

A Case Study: My Effective Tax Planning in Action

When I first established my digital marketing LLC, I quickly learned that effective tax planning was key to maximizing financial efficiency as we faced significant startup costs, including technology investments and office setup expenses.

Recognizing the potential for tax deductions, I meticulously documented every expense, which included $5,000 on computers and software and an additional $3,000 on office furniture and equipment.

To optimize our tax savings further, I decided to take advantage of the IRS's Section 179 deduction, which allowed us to fully deduct the total cost of qualifying equipment purchased or financed during the tax year . By applying this strategy, we were able to deduct the entire $8,000 in the first year itself rather than depreciating these assets over several years.

Additionally, we spent around $2,000 on marketing and $1,500 on legal fees for trademarking and contracts. Both expenses were fully deductible, as they were ordinary and necessary for running the business.

By the end of the year, these strategic deductions helped reduce our taxable income by over $11,500, which translated into significant tax savings and enhanced our cash flow, enabling further investment into growing the business.

FAQs

How Much Can You Write Off with an LLC?

The amount you can write off with an LLC has no limit. The write-off amount depends on the nature of business expenses, their connection to your LLC's activities, and applicable tax laws.

Can My LLC Pay My Rent?

Your LLC can pay your rent. As long as the expenses are necessary for the operation of your business, they are considered tax-deductible. One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot deduct the personal portion of the rent.

What Expenses Need to Be Included with LLC Tax Deductions?

Expenses that can be included with LLC tax deductions typically encompass business-related costs. These may include capital, car, office rent, employee salaries, advertising, and professional services. However, there are certain expenses you can leave out in your gross revenue.

References:

  1. https://www.thebalancemoney.com/business-driving-expenses-you-can-and-can-t-deduct-398677
  2. https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/filing/adjustments-and-deductions/business-meal-deductions/
  3. https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i2106
  4. https://www.irs.gov/publications/p463
  5. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/419A

About The Author

Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Jon Morgan, MBA, LLM, has over ten years of experience growing startups and currently serves as CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter. Educated at UC Davis and Harvard, he offers deeply informed guidance. Beyond work, he enjoys spending time with family, his poodle Sophie, and learning Spanish.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Growth & Transition Advisor
LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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5 thoughts on “LLC Tax Deductions (What Expenses Can You Write Off?)

  1. If my LLC is paid $4500 in a tax year, can I avoid paying taxes on it by purchasing $4500 in work related equipment for said LLC?

    1. Yes, purchasing $4500 in work-related equipment can offset your $4500 income if it qualifies as a necessary business expense. This reduces your taxable income to zero for that year, assuming no other income or expenses. Remember to verify that your purchases qualify under IRS rules like Section 179 or bonus depreciation.

  2. I own a cleaning company- LLC. As of right now I am the only one employed under this LLC. I am wondering if I can write off my gym membership? I see this as a needed expense as it keeps me fit so I am able to be active and clean homes. I also would love to offer this as a benefit to future hires and use it as a tax write off. Thoughts?

    1. Typically, gym memberships are not considered deductible business expenses for tax purposes because they are seen as personal expenses. The IRS generally does not allow deductions for gym memberships just because physical fitness is beneficial to business activities. To offer it as a benefit to employees and deduct it, you would need to establish a formal employee wellness program that meets specific IRS criteria.

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