Self Employed – Small Business Saturday and Giving Back


The article below is up to date based on the latest tax laws. It is accurate for your 2017 taxes, which you will file by the April 2018 deadline. Learn more about tax reform here.

As we enter the season of giving, you may see a lot of stores and companies giving back to the community. Some may donate a portion of sales to a charity, and others may donate their products or services to a raffle or silent auction. If you own a business and want to contribute something, it’s important to understand the tax implications of doing so.

Did you want to give back to your community through your business but you’re not sure how it works tax-wise? If so, it’s not too different than an individual making a charitable donation.

How Business Donations Work

The rules for claiming charitable donations for a business can be the same as for individuals. If you donate your time and talents, you cannot claim it as a donation even if you and your business offers those services to the public. You can claim any expenses that are the result of those services, like driving to the location or supplies used, but the actual service itself cannot be claimed.

One area where it differs is if you make a donation and receive a benefit like an ad in a program in return. If you make this type of donation and receive the benefit of an ad, you may be able to claim the donation as a business expense. This is common when you make a donation, such as to your local church, PTA, or other local organization for a small ad in a program. The organization may have it structured as a donation but you can claim it as an advertising expense.

With a personal donation, you must reduce the amount of your charitable donation deduction by the value of anything you receive in return.

Lastly, as with personal donations, you must keep the acknowledgment correspondence from the receiving organization.

Rules For Sole Proprietors

If your business is set up as a sole proprietorship and you are self-employed, the tax implications are quite simple.

If you make a donation to a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization and you received nothing in return, then you can take a deduction for your donation as an itemized deduction of your individual tax return. With a sole proprietorship, you declare income on a Schedule C, but you cannot deduct contributions on your Schedule C. It must be done on as an itemized deduction on your personal tax return as if you personally made the donation unless you made a donation where you receive a benefit of an ad like mentioned earlier.

From a business perspective, you could still announce your business’ intention to make a donation but simply have it be a personal donation. It’s unlikely anyone could consider that difference to matter in the slightest.

Rules For S Corporation or Partnership

If you have an S Corporation or a Partnership, any donations made at the corporate or partnership level will pass through to each of the shareholders on the Schedule K-1.

When you file your taxes, this tax deduction will also be claimed as an itemized deduction. Tis the season for giving and getting back!

Don’t worry about knowing these tax laws. TurboTax Self-Employed will ask you questions about you and your business and give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for. If you use QuickBooks Self-Employed to track your business income and expenses year round, you can automatically export your information to TurboTax Self-Employed.

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