Monthly Archives: May 2012

Let's Talk About Business Expenses

If you are a business owner, expenses incurred while running your business is,well, a cost of doing business. Expenses are a way to offset income which would otherwise be taxed, and so they offer opportunities to decrease income taxes. However, you cannot expense everything and some allowable expenses are subject to certain limitations. Since you can only expense costs related to generating income, personal expenses are not deductible – they don’t help to produce an income. There are also expenses deducted under the capital cost allowance provision which represent an annual amount for depreciation related to assets acquired to assist in income generation but also expected to be in use for longer than a year.

There is a long list of business expenses and each one is carefully defined, sometimes in a complex manner. For example, there are stringent rules concerning documentation of all auto related expenses including the total amount of business related kilometres driven annually. There are limits on deductibility of lease payments, loan interest and depreciation. It is also necessary to prove that trips claimed were actually for business purposes.

The long list of possible business expenses includes bad debts, business-use-of-home, fuel costs, insurance, accounting and legal fees, maintenance and repairs, office expenses, property taxes, rent, salaries and benefits, supplies and many others. Each category is precisely defined by law and regulation, meaning you can’t just deduct an expense because you think it should be deductible. The expense must be related to commercial activity, meet the regulatory guidelines, be well documented with detailed receipts and incurred for the purpose of contributing to the production of profit.

Given the complexity of the tax laws and to avoid a tax audit as much as possible, it’s always wise to let an accountant determine which expenses are deductible. The staff at Five Star Accounting can provide invaluable guidance on appropriate expense documentation and ensure that the business is claiming all its allowable expenses.