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John Malone, JD, CTC
March 29, 2024

What Are Business Expenses and Which Are Tax Deductible?

‍‍In the world of business, expenses are inevitable. Understanding how to manage and categorize business expenses can be a powerful tool for any business owner. It not only helps in maintaining a clear financial status but also offers potential tax benefits. This piece delves into the intricacies of business expenses, their categorization, potential tax deductibles and tips for efficient tracking and submission.

Understanding Business Expenses?

Business expenses are the costs borne by a business in its day-to-day operations. They can include tangible items like office equipment or intangible services like advertising and marketing. These expenses can be categorized into two primary types - capital expenditures and operational expenditures. Capital expenditures are large-scale investments made to acquire or improve a long-term asset such as equipment or buildings. Operational expenditures, on the other hand, are the recurring costs for running a business like salaries, utilities, and rent.

Understanding expenses is crucial for businesses as it directly impacts the net taxable income. Business expenses, often referred to as deductions, are subtracted from the revenue to calculate the amount of income that will be taxable. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows businesses to report any expense that may be considered 'ordinary and necessary'. An expense that meets the definition of ordinary (common in the industry) and necessary (appropriate and useful for business) can be expensed and is thus tax-deductible.

Key Business Expense Categories

To help streamline the process of tracking and reporting, expenses are classified into various categories. These categories depend on the nature of the business and the industry in which it operates. Here are some common business expense categories:

Advertising and Marketing

These expenses encompass costs related to promoting your business. They can range from billboards and TV ads to social media campaigns and signage.

Bank Fees

These include monthly account fees, wire transfer fees, ATM fees, and merchant service fees associated with a business account.

Business Meals

Costs incurred for meals during business meetings, conferences, or travel fall under this category.

Business Use of Car

If your personal car is used for business purposes, expenses related to its use can be claimed under this category.

Client Gifts

Appreciation gifts to clients or customers also count as business expenses. However, there are limits on the amount that can be claimed as a business expense.

Continuing Education

Costs related to further education or training for you or your employees that directly benefits your business also qualify as a business expense.

Credit and Collection Fees

Fees associated with obtaining payments from customers or those paid to third-party services for handling collections come under this category.


Depreciation represents the decrease in value of assets over time. It includes the costs of assets such as computers, furniture, property, equipment, trucks, etc.

Employee Benefit Programs

Programs such as health insurance, retirement plans, stock options, wellness programs, and daycare services provided to employees are considered business expenses.

Foreign Earned Income

If your business operates internationally and earns income from sources outside your home country, these incomes are considered business expenses.


Insurance costs such as property insurance, liability insurance, workers’ compensation, health insurance for employees, etc., are considered business expenses.

Raw Materials

For businesses that manufacture products, the cost of raw materials used in production is a considerable business expense.


The cost of leasing office space or any other business premises is a common business expense.


Travel expenses for business purposes such as airfare, accommodation, meals during trips, and car rentals can be deducted as business expenses.


The cost of business software for CRM, accounting, graphic design, or any other business use is a standard business expense.

Personal Property Use

If you use personal property for business purposes, a portion of related costs can be claimed as business expenses.


Costs incurred for entertaining clients or employees can be claimed as a business expense. However, there are specific rules about what can be claimed.

Tax Deductibles and Non-Deductible Expenses

Certain business expenses can be deducted from your taxable income, which can lower your tax bill. However, not all business expenses qualify for this benefit. Therefore, understanding the difference between tax-deductible and non-deductible expenses is crucial for effective tax optimization.

Tracking and Submitting Business Expenses

Adopting efficient practices and tools for tracking and categorizing your expenses can significantly ease your tax filing process. Regularly reviewing your expenses, using digital tools for tracking, and seeking professional help can ensure accurate and compliant expense management.

Putting it all together

In conclusion, understanding business expenses and their categories is crucial for effective financial management and tax optimization. While the process might seem complex, adopting efficient practices and seeking professional help can significantly simplify it. Remember, every penny saved in tax is a penny earned. So, get on the path to building tax-free wealth by mastering your business expenses!

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