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The 5 things you can’t write off for your business.

As a small business owner, you’re always looking for ways to save money. But there are some things you just can’t write off on your taxes – no matter how hard you try. Here are the five most common expenses small businesses try to write off.

Charitable Contributions

You can write off charitable contributions long as you make a contribution to a 501(c) non-profit. If you see a line that says “ Make a tax-deductible donation!” or “We are a tax-exempt non-profit” you are good to go.

What is not a charity? Individuals raising money for their surgery, their pet surgery, music album, or product they’re launching.

Clothing

The IRS rule is that you cannot write off clothing if you can wear it on the street. Period.

That means you cannot write off clothing you buy:

  • To conduct your business activities
  • For a specific business event
  • To improve your professional appearance

What clothes can you write off? Uniforms, anything that is not considered streetwear and protective clothing like:

  • Mechanic jumpsuit with a company logo
  • Lab coat
  • Hard hats
  • Clown suit

These items are necessary to the industry and serve a purpose other than just looking good or being comfortable

Hair/Makeup/Nails

.Big no-nos:

  • Haircuts
  • Makeup
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Facials
  • Brow shaping
  • Eyelash extension
  • Tanning
  • Massages

All of these services have a personal benefit which means the IRS isn’t going to allow it. Anything that you can walk away with is off-limits.

You can write off getting your hair and makeup done for a photo shoot.

That means you hired a professional to spruce you up just for the shoot. As in the day of – not a week before to get your regular color or haircut.

Volunteering Your Time

You cannot write off the value of the time that you volunteer your services.

For example, you’re a website designer who typically charges $150/hr. You volunteer at the community center to teach the business owner the basics of web design this is a 4-hour class. You can’t write off the $600 value of your services. The reward is being a really awesome person.

Mileage to and from your main office

There are so many reasons to write off your mileage as a self-employed person! We drive for things like getting office supplies, meeting clients (or customers), having business lunches, or networking events. This all adds up to make driving worthwhile and helps lower tax bills too.

That being said you can’t write off the mileage getting to your office and home.


While it is difficult to write off charitable contributions, clothing and makeup/ nails; there are many other things you can do in order not only reduce your taxes but also give back.

I’ve put together a list of Tax Write-offs that you shouldn’t forget to download!

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