I am in the process of starting up a new branch of my personal training business, and have been worried about how to keep correct records, and filing my taxes properly (and to my best advantage).
For me, this book is a GOLDMINE of information! I am so thrilled to have it--it answered all of my questions and will serve as a valuable tool throughout the year.
It starts with the basics: Using personal stories and examples that are applicable to a home business owner, the author begins with describing how deductions work, how business are taxed, and how you can use this information to best benefit you, to get the greatest value from your deductions.
You have to prove you are a real business and this book teaches you exactly how to do that. I remember back in the 80's you could just create a business so that your hobby could be a tax deduction. Not anymore.
Start up expenses: There are certain expenses you can write off, and some you cannot. There are certain rules you have to follow when you start a business, and there are even accomodations for businesses that never actually get off of the ground. There are also pitfalls (set ups, in my opinion) within the IRS that will bit you in the butt if you don't handle them properly--which this book tells you exactly how to do. Inventory is covered--how to start it up, maintain it, and deduct the costs thereof. It walks you through how to report your inventory to the IRS.
Operating in your home gives you certain tax benefits (we all know that). But, again, unlike the 80's, where you could write off soooo much, now those write offs are limited. This book lays out exactly what those limitations are and how to make the most of your write offs. It walks you through the Home-Office deduction and how to meet the IRS requirements for your deduction(s).
Long-term assets, depreciation, special tax forms--all covered in this book.
We've all heard about meal, entertainment, car, local and business travel expenses being great write offs. It's a lot harder now than in the past, but you CAN do it,and maximize those deductions with the tools in this book.
Now, part of my business includes hiring workers/contractors. This book covers all of it--employees or contractors; tax deductions and employee benefits, and even employing your family members and what that will entail , for you. It even goes over the NEW HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL and how it affects your business. It goes over medical expenses, insurance, tax credits, medical reimbursement plans, and health savings accounts. Wow.
Retirement? It's covered in this book. How to plan for YOUR retirement with a Retirement Plan (or plans). IRA's, employer IRA's, Keoghs, 401K's...it's all there.
It goes through lists of additional home business deductions, from advertising to charitable contributions, to education, to legal services...it's amazing--the more you read, the more you realize you "could have" written off.
It gives 10 tips to avoid an audit, previous year deductions and revisiting past tax years. SO much information is included in this book, I wish I could give you an adequate overview, but it'd be so long, you might as well buy the book. ;)
(10 Tips overview: Be Neat, Thorough, and Exact in your records and filings; Mail Your Return by Certified Mail; Don't File Early; Don't File Electronically; Form a Business Entity; Explain Items the IRS Will Question; Avoid Ambiguous or General Expenses; Report All of Your Income; Watch Your Income-to-Deduction Ratio; Beware of Abnormally Large Deductions...the book spends pages and pages describing each one of these in detail, but I thought this would pique your interest.)
There are spreadsheets and org charts to follow to make sure you are considering the right expenses for the right deductions. The examples are SO clear and concise, you can't mess it up.
If you own your own home business, or are considering starting up a home business, this book is mandatory for you!
And, if there are updates--you can even retrieve updates to the codes at their website, Nolo . com.