Tax Tips for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners – Part 4: The Business Start-Up Cost Deduction

The fourth article in the Tax Tips for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners series focuses on the business start-up cost deduction. This article highlights the importance of the business start-up deduction for entrepreneurs. This article briefly explains the business start-up cost deduction, the general test to qualify for the deduction, and some key tips.

What is the Business Start-Up Cost Deduction and How Can My Company Qualify?

The business start-up cost deduction allows an entrepreneur to take a current tax deduction for certain expenses incurred prior to, and for the purpose of, beginning the company. The deduction is limited to $5,000, and phases out on a dollar-for-dollar basis once the total qualifying start-up and organizational costs exceed $50,000. The entrepreneur must then amortize–or deduct pro-rata over a specified period of time–the remaining eligible start-up and organizational costs.

To qualify, the entrepreneur must have incurred eligible: (1) Start-Up Costs; or (2) Organizational Costs necessary to begin an active trade or business. Start-up costs include any amounts paid or incurred in connection with creating an active trade or business or investigating the creation or acquisition of an active trade or business. Organizational costs are the expenses associated with creating a corporation or partnership.

Which Costs Qualify as Deductible Start-Up or Organizational Costs?

Qualifying Start-Up Costs include:

  1. Analyses or Surveys of potential markets, products, labor supply, transportation facilities, etc.
  2. Advertisements for the opening of the business.
  3. Salaries and Wages for employees who are being trained and their instructors.
  4. Travel and other necessary costs for securing prospective distributors, suppliers, or customers.
  5. Salaries and Fees for executives and consultants, or for similar professional services.
  6. Investigative costs incurred as part of a general search for or initial evaluation a business to be acquired/purchased. These are the costs that help the entrepreneur decide whether to purchase the particular business.

BizAndTaxHax Tips: Start-up costs do not include deductible interest, taxes, research and experimental costs, or costs incurred as part of attempting to purchase a specific business. These expenses must be capitalized instead.

Qualifying Organizational Costs include:

  1. The cost of Temporary Directors.
  2. The cost of Organizational Meetings.
  3. State Incorporation Fees or Filing Fees.
  4. The cost of Legal Services for organization of the company, such as negotiation and preparation of the company’s organizing agreement.
  5. The cost of accounting services incident to organization of the business.

BizAndTaxHax Tips: The following expenses must be capitalized, rather than currently deducted and amortized: costs for marketing, issuing, and selling stock, securities, or company interests (such as commissions, professional fees, and printing costs); costs related to acquiring assets for the business or transferring assets to the business; costs for admitting or removing partners, shareholders, or members, other than at the time the company is first organized; costs of drafting an agreement concerning the operation of the business, including a contract between a partner, member, or shareholder and the company. These expenses must be capitalized.

Determining whether your company’s start-up or organizational costs are currently deductible and amortizable, or rather must be capitalized, is a specific factual and circumstantial analysis. So, as always, you should discuss your specific situation with a tax attorney and your accountant to obtain advice concerning deductible start-up or organizational costs for your newly formed business. An experienced tax lawyer can help you determine whether your start-up or organizational costs qualify for current deduction, and assist with electing the deduction and keeping the required documentation to support it. If you are a Columbus or Ohio entrepreneur or small business owner and need help preparing for tax return filing season and planning for the future, contact me for a free initial consultation.