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Year End Tax Planning: For The Self-Employed

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File Image (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

File Image (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

420x316-grad-lee Dee Lee
Dee Lee is a Certified Financial Planner who received a diploma in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – There are some good tax breaks available for self-employed individuals.

You can claim a 100% deduction for your health insurance costs. This is a very expensive item in anyone’s budget. This deduction does not go on your schedule C but on the first page of the 1040. Average annual healthcare premiums for a family is over $9,000 in Massachusetts.

If you make a major purchase for your business you normally would depreciate it. That is expense it over the life of the asset, usually 3 to 5 years. Small business owners are allowed to write off some of their equipment in the year they purchase it if they qualify for Section 179 Expenses. The limits for 179 purchases for this year is $500,000.

So take the time to evaluate what your profit will be this year and what your business needs are. A new computer, new printer, office furniture, software, new equipment? The deduction gets tricky for trucks and vans. No longer can you write the whole thing off if it can also be used for personal use. Certainly, a $40,000 saw for a woodworking shop would qualify for a full deduction. All of this equipment must be used at least 50% for business purposes.

If you are using your car in your business and do not itemize your expenses, the Standard Mileage Rate for this year, this is the mileage rate for the cost of operating your car, van, pickup, or panel truck is 55.5 cents a mile for the first half of the year and 51 cents a mile for the second half of the year!

And it is not too late to do some retirement planning; set up a SEP-IRA, Simplified Employee Pension Plan for yourself and if you have employees you will need to include them as well. You can contribute up to 25% of your income with a limit of $49,000 for 2011. The business makes the contributions for you and your employees.

If you contribute 25% of your salary for yourself you need to do 25% for all employees as well. Most brokerage firms and many mutual fund companies have IRS approved SEP-IRAs prototypes for your use as well as on line calculators to help you figure out how much you can contribute.

What I like best about the SEP-IRA is that you have until you file your taxes to set up the plan as well as to make the contributions. For most taxpayers that’s April 16 of next year but if you file an extension that extends your contribution date.

At least consider using an IRA to shelter some of your profit this year. IRAs are good for the part time consultant. Limits are $5,000 for 2011 with a catch up provision of $1000 if you are over 50!

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