Friday, July 1, 2016

Enforce the rules

How To You Enforce a Rule You Haven’t Enforced Before

4670939397_0160f9c382_zMost family child care providers have a written contract and policies that spell out rules they expect parents to follow.
But, it’s common for many providers to fail to consistently enforce their own rules.
Here’s some examples:
A provider’s contract says parents must pay on Friday for the following week, but the provider regularly accepts payments on Monday.

A provider’s contract says there is a $1 a minute late pick up fee, but the provider has never charged parents who pick up late.

A parent is violating a provider’s policies in a variety of ways: bringing toys from home, not notifying the provider on days when the child is not coming to care, not taking off her shoes when entering the provider’s home, or not leaving the child home when the child is sick.

If you have not been consistently enforcing your contract or policies and now want to start doing so, what should you do?
The short answer is: Start enforcing your rules now!
You can say to parents, “I know I haven’t been consistently enforcing all of my rules in the past. Starting next Monday I will strictly enforcing my contract and policies. Here’s another copy of them. If you have any questions, let me know.”
Parents may not like to hear this. If they complain about your new position, tell them, “I can understand your concern about my not enforcing my rules consistently. But, I’ve decided things will run more smoothly if we both follow the terms of our agreement. I appreciate your cooperation going forward.”
It’s your business and your rules. And, it’s your responsibility to enforce them.
To enforce your rules you need to give the parent a consequence for not following your rules.
For example, the consequence for not paying on Friday might be a late payment fee. The consequence of bringing toys or not giving advance notification of an absence can be a financial penalty ($25 per violation) or a three strikes and you are out policy.
If a parent continues to violate your policies you need to either terminate the parent’s contract or change your policies to allow the parent to do what they want.
Parents are much more likely to follow your rules if you consistently enforce them!
You should also pay attention to be sure that you are following your own rules. Review your contract and policies at least once a year. Maybe you aren’t following a rule: not going on one field trip a month, not getting identification before allowing a non-parent to pick up the child, or violating the privacy of parents by sharing information about them with others, etc.
If you find that you are violating your own policies, either get rid of the policy or start following it immediately!
You can always change your contract and policies if they no longer suit your purposes. Any change to a contract must be in writing and signed by both parties. You can make changes to your policies without a parent signature if it’s a separate document from your contract.
Don’t kick yourself in the head about what you did or didn’t do in the past. Let it go. It doesn’t matter now.
Look ahead and start enforcing your rules now.
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com

Thursday, June 30, 2016

DCFS FORMS-LICENSING, DHS FORMS-CHILD CARE

 DCFS FORMS-LICENSING
The form Do you want to open a day care? A Self-Assessment Guide to Determine Readiness to Enter the Licensing Process has changed August 12. Get the new form from http://www.state.il.us/dcfs/docs/CFS_599_-_DCH_License_Booklet.pdfr the Licensing Process

Also you need to send proof or be register with in the Gateways Registry. The best way is ussing the internet. Also you can download the form and send it by mail, but it will delate your registration one month. To register go to Gateways Registry
CFS 718-3 Background Check Roster/Registro de Verificación de Antecedentes
CFS 718-E Authorization For Background Check For Employees/Volunteers of Child Care Facilities
CANTS 22 Acknowledgment of Mandated Reporter Status Form
CFS 602 Medical Report on an Adult in a Child Care Facility For child care providers and people living in a child care facility. Good for 3 years.
http://www.dhs.state.il.us/OneNetLibrary/27897/documents/Forms/IL444-4194.pdf This for is the authorization to check records of people living or working in a License Exent Home Day Care

http://www.state.il.us/DCFS/docs/cants5.pdfCANTS 5 Written Confirmation of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect Report: Mandated Reporters This form is not part of the license application. Use this form to send written confirmation to DCFS after making a report of abuse / neglect. If you live in Lake County must send it to DCFS, attention: Child Protective Services, 500 N Greenbay Rd, Waukegan IL 60085. You can find more information in the Mandated Reporter Mannual https://mr.dcfstraining.org/public/pdf/en/Mandated-Reporter-Manual.pdf

DHS FORM-CHILD CARE

To see all DHS form, you can go to http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=32690 Look the forms by the number.
http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=9877All Child Care Manual, including updated forms in English and Spanish, eligibility limits, amounts paid to child care providers, people counted as family members, teenager or student care, family income, special cases.
Forms you need to fill for every child you have in care. One for each child

IL444-3455 (R-6-11) - Child Care Application (pdf). Child care application, English.

IL444-3514 (N-1-11) - Wage Verification (pdf) For parent who are paid cash, o who have not worked sufficient time to have pay stubs.

IL444-3527 (N-3-11) Change of information Use this form to report DHS any change in your information, including address, family members, income, time of work of care. http://www.dhs.state.il.us/OneNetLibrary/27897/documents/Forms/IL444-3527.pdf

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Parents and friends?

Are Parents Your “Friends”?
By Tom Copeland. Posted with permission
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Family child care providers are in the caring profession and caring for children is a very personal service.
You probably know more personal information about the families in your care than most of their friends do.
Does this mean the parents in your program are your “friends”? Not in my opinion.
Does your business card say, “Need a Friend?” Does your contract say, “By signing this contract provider agrees to be a friend to the parent”? I don’t think so.
Parents aren’t looking for friends. They are looking for someone to care for their child.
Sometimes, however, parents may appear to want a “friendship” with you. Maybe they want to “hang out” with you, or go out to eat, or they start sharing very personal information that you are uncomfortable listening to.
This can become a problem when the parents try to take advantage of your “friendship” by not paying on time or not following all of your policies.
It can also be a problem if you start treating the parent like a friend and then expect the parent to be your friend. In other words, it can be easy for providers to become personally involved in the lives of the families in their care. You may offer personal advice about their private lives or bend over backwards to assist them in a variety of ways that are not directly related to the care of their child.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this. The problem comes when you expect the parent to treat you like a friend in return. When this doesn’t happen you are setting yourself up for disappointment and a disruption of your business relationship.
Draw the line
It’s up to you to draw the line between a business relationship and a personal relationship. Nothing prevents you from going shopping with a parent on Saturday or sharing a meal on Sunday. However, for the hours you are caring for the parent’s child, you are running a business.
Sometimes this can be a hard line to draw. Providers don’t want to appear to be unsympathetic, uncaring or even unfriendly. But, there is a difference between being friendly and being friends.
Here are some tips about drawing this line:
  • Clearly set your rules when parents first enroll
  • Enforce your rules consistently, particularly about payments and pick up times
  • Limit the opportunities for small talk at pickup times by having other things to do
  • Politely ignore or rebuff friendship attempts. One provider recommended saying, “I’m so flattered, but I’ve found it best not to mix business and pleasure. Have a great weekend.” Or “I already have plans.”
If you haven’t been doing this things, you can start now.
How do you manage this problem?
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/moregoodfoundation/



Monday, June 6, 2016

Time-Space Percentage

Time-Space Percentage  The Time-Space Percentage Quiz

By Tom Copeland. Published with permission.

Graphic of house The Time-Space Percentage (T/S%) is the single most important number for a family child care provider to accurately calculate on  her tax return. It will make the biggest difference in reducing your taxes.

The T/S% represents the proportion of your home that is used for business purposes. You will also use it to determine how much of your shared business and personal expenses can be deducted as a business expense. Such expenses include:
House expenses: House depreciation, house improvements, house insurance, house repairs/maintenance, mortgage interest, property tax, utilities (gas, oil, electric, sewer, water, cable television, garbage) and rent.

Shared business and personal expenses: cleaning supplies, land improvements (fence, patio, driveway, underground sprinkler system), personal property depreciation (furniture, appliances, play equipment, television, etc.), toys, yard supplies, and much more.

As you can see, these deductions can amount to thousands and thousands of dollars. That's why calculating your T/S% correctly is so important!

If an item you purchase is used exclusively for your business you can deduct 100% of the cost. But if it's also used by your family then you can't deduct it all. Instead, apply your T/S% to determine your business deduction. Don't try to deduct 100% of a living room couch. If your own children only play with the item (say a toy) during day care hours, then you can still deduct 100% of the cost.

T/S% Formula

Your T/S% is determined by multiplying your Time percent by your Space percent. 
Your Time percent is determined by dividing the number of hours you work in your home for business purposes by the total number of hours in the year. If you worked 11 hours a day (7am-6pm) that represents 2,860 hours a year. Divide this by the total number of hours in the year (8,760) and your Time percent would be 32.6%. You are also entitled to include all hours spent after children are gone doing business activities such as: cleaning, activity or meal preparation, record keeping, parent interviews, even reading my blog! See an upcoming blog post for more information about the Time percent.

Your Space percent is determined by dividing the number of square feet in your home that you use on a regular basis by the total number of square feet in your home. Regular use means you use it for business purposes two or three times a week. If you used 2000 of the 2200 square feet in your home regularly for your business your Space percent would be 90.9%. See an upcoming blog post for more information about the Space percent.

If your Time percent is 32.6% and your Space percent is 90.9% your T/S% is 29.63% (32.6% x 90.9%).

Enter your numbers for your T/S% on IRS Form 8829 Business Use of Your Home. As of 1/28/11 the 2010 version of this form is not yet available from the IRS. I will announce on my blog when the 2010 version has been released.

Pop Quiz

It's time for a pop quiz on the T/S%!

1) Do you have to include your basement and garage in the total square feet of your home?
Answer 

2) Can you count the hours you spend at a workshop on child development sponsored by your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency at their office in your Time percent? Answer

3) Can you count the square footage of your outdoor play area in your Space percent? Answer

4) Must you recalculate your T/S% each year? Answer

This is the first of a four part blog post:
Part I: The Time-Space Percentage Quiz
Part IV. How to Claim The Exclusive Use Rule

How to Calculate Your Time Percent



Graphic of watch and notebookThis is part II of a four-part series on the Time-Space Percentage. Part I was The Time-Space Percentage Quiz. Part III is How to Calculate Your Space Percent. Part IV is How to Claim The Exclusive Use Rule.

"Can I count the hours I spend cleaning my home?"
"Can I count the hours I spend on the Internet?"
"Can I count the hours I spend at a workshop on child development?"

What are these family child care providers asking about?
Time is money. This is particularly true for family child care providers because the more time you work in your home the lower your taxes. The hours you work are used as part of a formula called the Time-Space Percentage (T/S%) that determines how much of your home you can deduct as a business expense.

You want to make sure your T/S% is accurate because it will be applied to thousands of dollars worth of expenses: property tax, mortgage interest, house insurance, utilities, house depreciation, toys, furniture, appliances, and much more.

To calculate your T/S% you must first calculate your Time Percent and then your Space Percent.

The Time Percent

This percent is determined by adding up the number of hours you are using your home for business purposes and dividing this number by the total number of hours in the year (8,760). There are two types of hours to include: hours when day care children are present in your home and hours when children are not present but you are engaged in business activitites.

Hours when children are present in your home

Count hours from the moment the first child arrives until the last child leaves. Don't count the hours of operation as reflected in your contract; instead keep records of the actual hours children are present. If you care for children from 7 am to 5:30 pm that's ten and a half hours a day or 31% of the week. If your pick up time is 5:30 pm but the last parent usually leaves closer to 6:00 pm count this extra time. A half hour a day every day is equal to 1.5% of the year, which is significant when applied to all your house expenses.

Hours when children are not present in your home

Count all hours spent on business activities such as: cleaning, meal preparation, activity preparation, record keeping, parent interviews, parent phone calls, time spent on the Internet, and so on. Such activities may be done by your spouse (cleaning toys) or by your own children (laundry). Don't count time spent away from your home, even if you are engaged in a business activity (training workshop, transporting day care children).

Tracking your hours

Keeping track of your attendance hours is relatively simple; tracking the hours you work when children are gone requires more effort. Try to keep a daily record of all the hours you work when children are gone for at least two months each year. Use the average hours worked for these two months for the rest of the year. Mark this time on a calendar and note what time of day you did the work.

Carefully tracking the hours you work after children are gone is perhaps the most important thing you can do to reduce your taxes. Most child care providers underestimate these hours and pay higher taxes as a result. Every one and a half hours of work each week is equal to a rise of about 1% in your Time-Space Percentage. Although this might seem a small amount it's not when applied to thousands of dollars of house expenses.

The average amount of time providers care for children is about eleven hours a day, five days a week. This is equal to 33% of the year. The average amount of time child care providers conduct business activities after the children are gone is about 14 hours a week, or about 8% of the year. Therefore, a typical child care provider's Time Percent is around 40%. Yours may be higher or lower.

Enter your Time Percent on Part I of IRS Form 8829 Expenses for Business Use of Your Home.
I have answered a lot of questions about the T/S% at the daycare.com child care forum.

How to Calculate Your Space Percent


Graphic of houseThis is Part III of a four-part series on the Time-Space Percentage. Part I is The Time-Space Percentage Quiz. Part II is How to Calculate Your Time Percent. Part IV is How to Claim The Exclusive Use Rule.

"Must I count the space in my basement and garage?"

"Can I count my downstairs room if licensing rules prohibit me having day care children downstairs?"
"Can I my own child's bedroom if he takes a nap in it everyday but day care children do not enter the room?"

What are these family child care providers asking about?

The Time-Space Percentage (T/S%) is the single most important number for a child care provider to accurately calculate because it will make the biggest difference in reducing your taxes.
Your T/S% represents the proportion of your home that is used for business purposes. You will use it to determine how much of the thousands of dollars of your house-related expenses you can deduct.
To calculate your T/S% you must first calculate your Time Percent and then your Space Percent.

The Space Percent

 Your Space Percent is calculated by dividing the number of square feet in your home used on a regular basis for your business by the total number of square feet in your home.

Look at each room in your home and ask, "Am I using this room on a regular basis for my business?" If the answer is yes, count all the square feet in the room; if no, don't count any of the square feet. Your living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, entryway, playroom, and pantry are probably all regularly used in your business. A bedroom used by children for naps 30 minutes each day is considered regular use. Using a room 2-3 times a week is probably regular use.

You must count your basement and garage as part of the total square feet of your home
.
If your state licensing rules prohibit you from bringing children into your basement you may still be able to count the basement space as regular use if it contains a furnace area, laundry room, or storage area for household items used in your business (tools, household supplies, etc.). Children don't have to be in a room for the room to be considered as regular use.

If you use your garage to store a car used for your business, tools, bikes, garbage can, recycling, garden supplies, etc. you could consider your garage as regular use.

Rooms that would not be considered as regular use would be a bedroom never used by the day care children, a personal bathroom never used by the children, or a gun room.
Most providers count all the rooms in their home as regular use and therefore their Space Percent would be 100%. Don't be afraid to claim a 100% Space Percent!
After calculating your Space Percent multiply it by your Time Percent to get your T/S%. Most providers who work full-time, year round will probably have a T/S% of between 30-45%. You must recalculate your T/S% each year.

Enter your Space Percent on Part I of IRS Form 8829 Expenses for Business Use of Your Home.
.

How to Measure Your Home


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How much space you use in your family child care home for your business can make a big difference in how much you might owe in taxes.
Determining the square footage of your home is an important part of calculating your Time-Space Percentage. Your Time-Space Percentage is used to figure out how much of your house expenses you can deduct for your business.
To calculate your Space Percentage you need to determine the number of square feet you use in your home on a regular basis for your business. You can count a room as regular use if you use it two-three times per week for your business. Children don’t have to be in a room to count it as regular use.
Once you have determined that a room is regularly used for your business you need to know the square footage of the room.
Add up the square footage of space used regularly for your business and divide by the total square footage of your home. The result is your Space Percentage.
What spaces count?
Don’t count your driveway, patio, lawn, or outdoor play area. These aren’t considered part of the structure of your home and so are not part of the total square footage of your home.
Do count decks, porches, garages (even if detached) and basements as part of the total square footage of your home. Many family child care providers use these areas on a regular basis for their business.
Count the area of a closet as part of the area of the room it’s in. IRS rules aren’t clear about whether an unfinished attic should be considered part of the home.



How to Claim The Exclusive Use Rule


Photo of exclusive use roomThis is Part IV of a four-part series on the Time-Space Percentage. Part I is The Time-Space Percentage Quiz. Part II is How to Calculate Your Time Percent. Part III is How to Calculate Your Space Percent.

Which of the following rooms can a family child care provider claim under the exclusive use rule?

A) A downstairs room where day care children play that also contains a coat closet that the child care provider's family uses.

B) A remodeled garage that is turned into a children's play room. The child care provider has no children of her own living at home.

C) A children's play room that is by the day care children. The child care provider has young children of her own that use the room only during child care hours.

Answer: B and C.

Family child care providers can substantially increase their Time-Space Percentage (T/S%) if they have one or more rooms that are exclusively used for their business. An exclusive use room is a room that is never, ever used personally. This is a strict rule. If you use the room even once during the year for personal purposes you cannot take advantage of this rule. Don't try to use this rule unless you are absolutely certain you qualify.

Here's an example of how this rule works.

Let's say your home is 2,000 square feet and you have an exclusive use room that is 200 square feet. The rest of the home is regularly used for your business. Your Time Percent is 40%.
Step One: Calculate the business use percentage of the exclusive use room:
200 square feet divided by 2,000 square feet = 10%

Step Two: Calculate the T/S% of the rest of the home:
1,800 square feet of regular use space divided by 2,000 square feet = 90% Space
90% Space x 40% Time = 36%

Step Three: Add the totals from Step One and Two together:
10% + 36% = 46% T/S%

Note: If you had used the 200 square foot room only regularly for your business your T/S% would have been 40% (100% Space x 40% Time). Applying the exclusive use room increased your T/S% by 6% which is significant!

The Instructions to IRS Form 8829 tells child care providers to do this calculation on a separate piece of paper and then attach it to the form. Enter the T/S% on line 7 of Form 8829.

Family child care providers are the only home-based business that can have both regular use rooms and exclusive use rooms. If you have such a room be sure to take advantage of it as doing so will significantly decrease your taxes.

Take pictures of the room to help you prove that you had an exclusive use room if you are audited. If you have young children of your own take pictures of your children's bedrooms and toys so the auditor can see that they do not need to enter the exclusive use room after the day care children are gone.

Time-Space %

Questions and Answers from Tom Copeland's Tax Webinar

Published with permission


“Should I count my unfinished basement in the square foot calculation of my Time-Space %?”
- Yes. You can count your basement as regularly used for your business if you have a laundry room, storage areas that are used for your business.

“Should I count an unattached storage building as part of the square footage of my home?”
- No. If you do, you will have to pay taxes on any profit associated with the sale of the storage building when you sell your home.

“Can I count the hours for my Time-Space % if I am away from my home but someone else is in my home cleaning?”
- Yes. What matters is if your home is being used for business purposes, not who is doing the business work. If the person is cleaning business and personal areas, only count part of the time.


“Can I use the Time-Space % if I rent my home?”
- Yes. Use this for your rent, renter’s insurance, utilities, as well as your furniture, appliances, and household items.

“What is the best way to keep track of time spent doing daycare when children are not present?”
- Track at least two months of records on a calendar. Each day indicate what time of day you did these activities (so we can see that it’s not during day care hours) and what you did (cleaning, activity preparation, meal preparation, parent phone calls, time on the Internet, etc.). Use the average number of hours per week for the entire year. Do this each year. See my article for more information on how to do this.

“Can I count time shoveling snow or painting the outside of my home?”
- You can only count time spent on activities that you would not otherwise do, except for the fact that you are doing child care. Shoveling snow at 5:30am I would count because you wouldn’t be doing this at 5:30am if you weren’t in business. I would not count mowing the lawn or painting the outside of your home because you would do these activities even if you weren’t in business. You can deduct the cost of the lawn mower and painting supplies or the cost of hiring someone to paint your home. Use your Time-Space % of the cost.

If I used a room exclusively for my business can I count all of the time I clean it?”
- Yes. See my article on how to claim an exclusive use room.

“Can I count the time I spent shopping for daycare food or supplies while away from my home?”
- No. You can’t count time if you are away from your home because you are not wearing out or using your home.

“Is pest control costs subject to the Time-Space %?”
- Yes, unless the pests only affect your daycare children. Not likely!

“When I wash bedding, etc. can I count the whole time it takes to do the laundry?”
- Only if you stand in front of the washer and dryer and watch! Count the time to remove the bedding from the beds, carry them to the laundry room, put them in the washing machine, take them out of the washing machine and putting them in the dryer, taking them out of the dryer, and putting them back on the bed or storing them.

“Can I count the hours I prepare my own taxes?”
- Yes, for your business tax forms (Form 8829, Form 4562, Schedule C, Schedule SE, Form 3115). No, for your personal tax forms (Form 1040, Schedule A, etc.).

“Is it a ‘red flag’ if my Time-Space % is larger because I offer 1st and 2nd shift child care six times a week?”
- No. Keep good records and count all the hours you are caring for children.

“I spent a lot of time last year preparing my home for daycare, but I didn’t open until December. Should I count these hours?”
- Probably not. If you counted these hours you would have to divide them by the number of hours in the year from when you started preparing. Unless your average weekly preparation hours were larger than your average weekly hours after you started your business, your Time-Space % will be lower.

“Do I count a covered porch that is used exclusively for my daycare?”
- Yes, this can be counted as an exclusive use room.

“Should I start counting the time when I leave to pick up children from school in the morning or the time they arrive at my home?”
- Only count time when you are in your home. So, start counting when the children arrive, not when you leave to pick them up.
“Can I count the time I’m away from my home on field trips with the children?”
- If you leave on a field trip in the middle of the day and return later in the day, don’t subtract these hours from the time you use your home for your business. If you leave your home at 4pm and take children on a field trip and drop off the children at their home, stop counting hours at 4pm.
Image credit: www.colourbox.com

Record Keeping Guide small
Tom Copeland, www.tomcopelandblog.com

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Deduct your fence

How To Deduct a Fence
By Tom Copeland.
Posted with permission
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MAY 25, 2016
Here’s how to deduct a fence that a family child care provider puts up in her back yard.
First: You can deduct a fence because it’s an “ordinary and necessary” business expense. You need to keep children safe or you want more privacy or you want to keep dogs and others out of your back yard that you use for your business.

Second: How much of the fence can you deduct? If your licensor requires you to put up a fence, deduct 100% of the cost of the fence. Get a written statement from your licensor.

If your licensor doesn’t require a fence, you can deduct the business portion of the fence. Determining the business portion can be tricky. If you don’t have young children of your own and you put up the fence solely because of your business, deduct 100% of the cost. If you do have young children of your own, you could take a conservative position and deduct the Time-Space Percentage of the cost of the fence. Or, you could take a more assertive position and claim a higher percentage based on the actual use of the fence. Read my article, “How to Calculate an Actual Business Use Percent.”

Third: When can you deduct the fence? If the fence cost less than $2,500 you can deduct it in one year. If it cost more than $2,500 you must depreciate it over 15 years as a land improvement. However, you can also use the 50% bonus depreciation rule.
Here’s some examples:
$2,000 fence x 100% business use = $2,000 deduction in one year
$2,000 fence x 75% business use – $1,500 deduction in one year
$3,000 fence x 40% Time-Space % = $1,200 x 50% = $600 deduction in first year using the 50% bonus rule. The remaining $600 gets depreciated over 15 years ($600 x 5% first year depreciation = $30). Total depreciation in first year: $630.
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dapaw/0

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The start up rule


How to Handle Expenses Before Your Business Begins: The Start-Up Rule

By Tom Copeland, posted with permission
What are the rules to follow in deducting these items?
The answer depends on the cost of an item and whether or not you bought it to help you start your business.
Items Purchased to Help Start Your Business
Items costing less than $2,500
If you bought an item for less than $2,500 to help you start your business, it’s considered a start-up expense. Examples include advertising, children’s books, business name registration fees, first aid kit, supplies, training workshop fees, and so on.
Basically, if you are buying small items to help you to get ready to open your business, it’s a start up expense. 
You can deduct up to $5,000 of start-up expenses in the year your business begins. For example, let’s say a provider buys $1,000 worth of small toys (none costing more than $100 each), $50 for a child development workshop, $80 for storage boxes, and $300 in arts and craft supplies in the summer of 2015. If she starts her business in July 2016 she will be able to deduct the full $1,430 on her 2016 tax return. This assumes she is using all of these items 100% for her business. Start-up expenses in excess of $5,000 must be amortized over 180 months (15 years).
If you did not use the item at all until your business began, deduct the purchase price. But what happens if you personally use any of these items before your business began? In this case, you must estimate the fair market value of the items at the time you business did begin before you deduct it.
For example, if you personally used the storage boxes ($80) in December 2015, you would estimate their value in July 2016 once you began using them in your business. Perhaps they would be worth $50 by then. If you use the storage boxes for both business and personal use once your business begins, multiply the $50 by your Time-Space Percentage to determine your business deduction.
If you put the storage boxes in your basement and only began using them for your business in July 2016, you would deduct the full $80.
Items costing more than $2,500
If you buy items that cost more than $2,500 (computer, swing set, washer, dryer, furniture, etc.), you must depreciate them. Depreciation means you claim a portion of the cost as a deduction over a number of years.
Most household items are depreciated over seven years. For details on depreciation rules, see my article “The Categories of Depreciation.”
It doesn’t matter if you bought these items to help you start your business or not. In most cases you will have to depreciate them. (See my article that describes an exception to this rule.)
If you bought the item before your business began, use the value of the item when it is first used in your business.
Items Not Purchased For Your Business
Family child care providers will have a house full of furniture, appliances and hundreds of household items at the time their business begins. You are entitled to depreciate all of these items once they are used in your business. You must depreciate them, even if their original cost was less than $500.
If you purchase an item after your business begins that costs $2,500 or more, you must follow the regular depreciation rules.
You will gain a lot of business deductions if you do a household inventory of all items in your home before your business begins. See my article on how to do this.
Summary
Confused? Here’s a summary:
Items purchased before your business began to help you start your business
* Cost less than $2,500 – deduct in one year (start-up expenses limited to $5,000)
Example: $40 toy purchased in 2015 and first used in 2016 when business begins. Deduct in 2016.
* Cost more than $2,500 – depreciate
Example: $3,000 swing set purchased and used personally in 2013. Used for business and personal use in 2016. Estimated value when first used for business: $2,000. Depreciate using your Time-Space Percentage on $2,000 in 2016.
Items Not Purchased For Your Business
Estimate the value of the item at the time it is first used in your business and depreciate it. Apply your Time-Space Percentage if it’s used by your family and your business.
Example: $50 rocking chair and $400 freezer used both for business and personal use. Multiply by your Time-Space Percentage and depreciate both.
Although this is a relatively complicated issue, claiming start-up expenses and other deductions for items purchased before you started your business is well worth your time.
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com