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Business Tax Planning Strategies

Tax planning is a critical aspect of running a successful business. Effective tax planning strategies can help businesses optimize their financial resources, reduce tax liability, and ultimately improve their bottom line. However, navigating the complex landscape of tax laws and regulations can be overwhelming for many small business owners. In this article, we will dive into the world of small business tax planning, and explore the various strategies that can help you navigate the intricacies of tax laws while minimizing your overall tax burden too.

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What is business tax planning?


Business tax planning refers to the strategic process of analyzing a company's financial situation and identifying legal methods to minimize its tax liability. It involves making informed decisions and taking advantage of income shifting, tax deductions, credits, exemptions, and incentives provided by tax laws and regulations. The primary objective of business tax planning is to optimize a company's tax position while ensuring compliance with tax laws. Business tax planning is a year-long process and not a tax season event.

What is the U.S. corporate income tax rate?


The federal corporate income tax rate in the United States is 21%. This rate was established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017, which reduced the previous corporate income tax rate of 35% to its current level. In addition to paying taxes at the federal tax rate, businesses must comply with and pay taxes at the state level.

How much does a business pay in taxes?

The amount a small business pays in taxes can vary widely depending on several factors, including the business's structure, its taxable income, applicable tax rates, deductions, credits, and any specific industry or location-based taxes. Here are some key points to consider: The business structure chosen (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC) can affect the tax liability. The income subject to a tax of a small business is typically based on its net income or profit after deducting eligible business expenses.

What is business taxable income?


Business taxable income refers to the portion of a business's income that is subject to taxation by the government. To calculate the business income that is taxable, businesses typically start with their gross income or total revenue earned from their business activities. From this gross income, they deduct various expenses and deductions allowed by tax laws to arrive at the taxable amount.

What are the 8 basic business tax planning strategies?


By proactively assessing tax implications and strategizing their tax planning accordingly, businesses can optimize their cash flow, allocate resources more efficiently, and enhance their overall profitability. Here are the 8 basic corporate tax strategies:

  1. Timing and shifting income and expenses: Shifting income is the best way to reduce your income. Income shifting involves strategically timing the recognition of income or shifting income to different entities or tax periods to minimize the tax liability. By deferring income to a later tax year, or shifting income to family members or related entities with lower tax rates, businesses can effectively reduce their taxes.

  2. Taking advantage of business tax deductions: By carefully analyzing eligible expenses, such as business-related costs, employee benefits, or charitable contributions, businesses can claim deductions and lower their overall tax burden.

  3. Maximize business tax credits and incentives: Identifying and utilizing tax credits and incentives can provide significant tax advantages. By leveraging government credits and incentives, businesses can reduce their business income and tax liability.

  4. Optimizing your business entity structure: Choosing the right business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC, can significantly impact tax obligations.

  5. Utilizing business tax strategies for international operations: Businesses with global operations can employ international tax planning strategies to minimize their overall tax liability. This involves understanding cross-border tax laws, treaties, and transfer pricing regulations to optimize the tax position and mitigate potential double taxation.

  6. Improving your tax knowledge: By investing time and effort into improving your tax knowledge, you can become better equipped to handle tax planning, and compliance, and make informed financial decisions.

  7. Keeping good business records: Keeping good records is essential for effective business tax planning and compliance. By keeping your records, you will be able to take advantage of the business tax strategies presented here and be ready to document your deductions, credits, and tax positions to the government.

  8. Working with business tax professionals: Tax professionals, such as certified public accountants (CPAs) or tax attorneys, have in-depth knowledge and expertise in tax matters. They can help you stay in compliance while minimizing your taxes.

How can I reduce my business taxes?


As a business owner, you can reduce your business taxes by shifting and deferring income, taking advantage of business deductions, maximizing the use of tax credits and incentives, by becoming familiar with business tax laws and regulations, keeping good records, and working with tax professionals.

Most common business tax planning strategies


Time and shifting income and expenses

Strategic timing of income and expenses is a key tax planning strategy for businesses. By carefully managing the timing of when income is recognized and expenses are incurred, businesses can optimize their taxable earnings and potentially reduce their overall tax liability. Here's how businesses can strategically time income and expenses:

  1. Business income deferral: Defer taxable income to minimize your tax burden. If possible, consider deferring the receipt of income until the following tax year. You can defer income by delaying the completion of projects or postponing the issuance of invoices near the end of the current tax year. By deferring income, business owners can effectively defer taxable income to a later tax period, reducing their current-year tax.

  2. Business expense acceleration: On the other hand, consider accelerating deductible expenses into the current tax year. Prepaying certain expenses, such as rent, insurance premiums, or office supplies, before the end of the year can allow businesses to claim deductions in the current year if the business uses the cash method of accounting.

  3. Acquire assets at the end of the year: If your business is planning to purchase new assets, such as equipment or vehicles, timing the purchase strategically can have tax benefits. Consider purchasing the end of the tax year to take advantage of depreciation deductions or other applicable tax incentives that allow for immediate expensing or accelerated depreciation. This is an easy way to create tax savings by increasing non-cash deductions and reducing the small business tax.

  4. Timing the payment of bonuses and compensation: If your business offers bonuses or other forms of compensation to employees, timing the payment of these amounts can impact tax liability. By paying out bonuses in the following tax year, businesses that increase employees wages can potentially defer the associated payroll taxes and income tax withholding.

  5. Timing of inventory by utilizing tax-efficient inventory management techniques: Implement inventory management strategies, such as the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method, to reduce taxable earnings by matching higher-cost inventory with sales. The tax law allows you to change your inventory accounting method under certain circumstances.

  6. Accounting method planning: Accounting method planning is a crucial aspect of business tax planning. It involves selecting and implementing the most suitable accounting method for recording and reporting financial transactions, which can have a significant impact on a business's income. Cash Basis vs. Accrual Basis. By using the proper accounting method, you can defer income. The tax law allows you to change accounting methods.

Take advantage of business tax deductions


Taking advantage of business tax deductions is a key strategy for reducing taxable income and minimizing tax liability. Here are some common deductions that businesses can consider:

  1. Deducting all your operating expenses: Deductible business expenses include rent, utilities, office supplies, professional services fees, advertising costs, and insurance premiums to reduce your tax bill. Keep thorough records of these expenses and ensure they are directly related to the operation of your business.

  2. Consider employee benefit programs: Deductible employee benefits can include contributions to health insurance premiums, health savings accounts (HSAs) or flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and other qualified employee benefit programs. These deductions not only benefit employees but also reduce your business taxes.

  3. Implement tax-advantaged retirement plans: Establish tax-advantaged retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or SEP IRA, to not only save for retirement but also benefit from tax deductions on contributions and help with the higher employment tax costs facing businesses today.

  4. Business travel and meals: Expenses related to business travel, including transportation, lodging, and meals, can be deductible. Keep detailed records of these expenses, including receipts and documentation of the business purpose so you can reduce your business tax bill.

  5. Vehicle Expenses: If you use vehicles for business purposes, you may be able to deduct expenses such as fuel, maintenance and repairs, lease payments, and depreciation. Keep accurate records of both personal and business use of the vehicle to calculate the deductible portion.

  6. Utilize accelerated depreciation methods: Take advantage of accelerated depreciation methods, such as bonus depreciation or Section 179 deduction, to accelerate the tax benefits of asset purchases. Most business owners are aware of the benefits of depreciation but fail to act and plan to take advantage of this deduction.

  7. Research and development (R&D) expenses: If your business invests in qualifying research and development activities, you may be eligible for R&D tax credits or deductions. These incentives can help offset the costs associated with innovation and product development.

  8. Bad debts: If your business has unpaid customer invoices that are deemed uncollectible, you may be able to deduct these bad debts as a business expense reducing your small business tax bill.

  9. Education and training: Expenses related to continuing education and professional development that are directly related to your business may be deductible. This can include courses, seminars, and conferences that enhance your skills and knowledge.

  10. Structure executive compensation to optimize tax savings: Work with tax and legal professionals to structure executive compensation packages in a tax-efficient manner, taking advantage of strategies like deferred compensation or stock options.

  11. Implement cost segregation studies for commercial properties: Conduct a cost segregation study to identify and accelerate the depreciation of different components of commercial properties, leading to increased tax deductions.

  12. Leverage tax benefits of charitable contributions: Donate to qualified charitable organizations and take advantage of tax deductions for your contributions. This allows you to save money, as well as make a positive social impact. For years, small business owners have taken advantage of this deduction, but recently the government has changed the tax law for small businesses making it more difficult to take advantage of charitable contributions.

  13. Section 199A and the 20% pass-through deduction: Section 199A of the U.S. tax code introduced the 20% pass-through deduction, also known as the Qualified Business Income Deduction (QBI). The qualified business income deduction provides a significant tax benefit to certain businesses structured as pass-through entities. Eligible businesses can deduct 20% of their qualified business income (QBI) from their taxable earnings.

  14. Consider tax implications of leasing versus buying assets: Evaluate the tax advantages and disadvantages of leasing versus buying business assets, considering factors such as cash flow, depreciation deductions, and financing costs.

  15. Take advantage of the home office deduction: Taking advantage of the home office deduction is a valuable tax planning strategy for small business owners as well as for large corporations that operate from a home office or have employees who work remotely. You should be aware that home office deduction has been the subject of IRS tax audits for years for small business owners.

  16. Don't ignore carryover deductions: Carryover deductions are an important aspect of tax planning that should not be ignored. If your business incurs a net operating loss in prior years and your deductible expenses exceed your taxable income, you can carry forward the NOL to offset future taxable earnings. This is also applicable to capital loss carryforward, charitable contribution carryover, foreign tax credit carryover and any other unused losses in prior periods.

  17. Use business accountable plans: Expenses reimbursed through an accountable plan are typically fully tax-deductible for the business. This means small businesses and large businesses can deduct the expenses as ordinary and necessary business expenses, reducing its tax burden. When expenses are reimbursed under an accountable plan, the reimbursements are not considered taxable income for employees.

  18. Take a tax-free loan from your business: Taking a tax-free loan from your business can be a useful tax planning strategy for business owners in certain situations. As a business owner, you can borrow funds from your business, commonly known as a shareholder loan. The advantage of a shareholder loan is that it is not considered taxable income for the business owner. Since it is a loan that needs to be repaid, it does not trigger immediate tax consequences for the business owner.

  19. Hire your spouse or children: Hiring your spouse or children can be a strategic tax planning move for businesses, provided that it is done legitimately and in compliance with tax laws. By employing your spouse or children, a business owner may be able to deduct their wages as your employee income or a business expense, thereby reducing their taxable income. Hiring family members allows you to shift income from your higher tax bracket to their lower tax brackets.

Maximizing business tax credits and incentives


Leveraging tax credits and incentives is an effective strategy for businesses to reduce their tax liability. These credits and incentives are provided by governments at various levels (federal, state, and local) to encourage specific business activities or investments. Here are some ways to leverage tax credits and incentives for significant tax savings:

  1. Take advantage of research and development (R&D) tax credits: If your business engages in qualified research activities to develop new products, processes, or technologies, you may be eligible for R&D tax credits. These credits can offset a portion of your R&D expenses, reducing your tax liability.

  2. Investment tax credits: Governments often offer investment tax credits to businesses that make qualifying investments in certain sectors, such as renewable energy, energy-efficient equipment, or technology infrastructure. These credits provide a direct reduction in tax liability based on the amount invested.

  3. Work opportunity tax credit (WOTC): The WOTC provides tax credits to businesses that hire individuals from targeted groups, including veterans, long-term unemployed individuals, and those receiving certain forms of government assistance. By hiring from these groups, businesses can claim credits that help lower their tax burden.

  4. Low-income housing tax credits: Developers or investors involved in affordable housing projects may qualify for low-income housing tax credits. These credits incentivize the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing units and can be used to offset tax liabilities.

  5. State and local tax incentives: Many states and local governments offer tax incentives to attract businesses and stimulate economic growth. These incentives can include tax credits, exemptions, or reduced tax rates for businesses that meet specific criteria, such as job creation, investment in economically distressed areas, or support for specific industries.

  6. Small business health care tax credit: Small businesses that provide health insurance coverage to their employees may be eligible for a tax credit to help offset a portion of the premium costs. This credit is designed to encourage a business owner to offer health care benefits to their employees.

  7. Explore tax benefits of investing in qualified opportunity zones: Consider investing in designated Opportunity Zones to benefit from tax advantages, such as deferral or elimination of capital gains taxes on qualified investments. Investments made in designated Qualified Opportunity Zones can provide significant tax advantages. These zones aim to promote investment in economically disadvantaged areas.

  8. Utilize tax benefits of energy-efficient investments and renewable energy: Utilizing tax benefits associated with energy-efficient investments and renewable energy can be a strategic move for businesses aiming to reduce their environmental impact and lower their tax liability. Here are some key energy credit considerations: Energy-Efficient Property Deductions, Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credits (ITC), Renewable Energy Production Tax Credits (PTC), and others.

Optimizing your business entity structure


Optimizing your business entity structure is a crucial tax planning strategy that can help minimize small business owners' tax liability and maximize benefits. Choosing the right entity structure can significantly impact your business's tax obligations. Here are some key considerations for optimizing your business entity structure:

  1. Sole Proprietorship: While this entity offers simplicity, sole proprietorships do not provide much tax flexibility or liability protection. Profits and losses are reported on the owner's personal tax return and affect the business owners adjusted gross income. This type of entity also has higher employment tax costs. Since your adjusted gross income and your self-employment taxes will be affected, you have to make time for individual income tax planning by choosing this entity. Only small businesses should consider this entity.

  2. Partnership: Partnerships are formed when two or more individuals or entities join together to operate a business. Partnerships offer flexibility in allocating profits and losses among partners, and they are generally not subject to entity-level taxes. Instead, partners report their share of the partnership's income and deductions on their individual tax returns. This entity does not have any small business tax but the income generated affects the owners' adjusted gross income.

  3. Limited Liability Company (LLC): LLCs provide the flexibility of a partnership while offering limited liability protection to the limited liability companies and their members. LLCs have pass-through taxation, meaning profits and losses flow through to the members' personal tax returns. However, LLCs have the option to be taxed as a corporation if it is advantageous for tax planning purposes.

  4. S Corporation: S Corporations are a popular choice for small businesses. They combine the limited liability protection of a corporation with the tax advantages of a partnership. S Corporations have pass-through taxation, where profits and losses are reported on the corporation tax returns and shareholders' individual tax returns. However, shareholders must pay themselves a reasonable salary and are subject to self-employment taxes on that salary.

  5. C Corporation: C Corporations are separate legal entities from their owners and offer limited liability protection. Unlike pass-through entities, C Corporations are subject to double taxation, where the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and shareholders pay taxes on dividends received. However, C Corporations have more flexibility in structuring compensation and benefits, and they may be eligible for certain deductions and tax planning strategies.

Utilizing business tax strategies for international operations


Utilizing effective tax strategies for international operations is essential for businesses engaged in global activities. Here are some key strategies to consider:

  1. Double Taxation Treaties: Double taxation treaties (DTTs) are agreements between countries that aim to avoid or minimize the double taxation of income earned by businesses operating across borders. Understand DTTs applicable to your operations, and structure your international activities to take advantage of provisions such as reduced withholding taxes and tax credits.

  2. Transfer Pricing: Transfer pricing refers to the pricing of transactions between related entities in different tax jurisdictions. Establishing appropriate transfer pricing policies can help ensure that transactions are conducted at arm's length and in compliance with tax regulations. This can prevent tax authorities from adjusting profits and imposing penalties.

  3. Tax-efficient Holding Structures: Carefully consider the choice of holding structures for international operations. This includes establishing holding companies in jurisdictions with favorable tax laws, such as low or no corporate tax rates, favorable tax incentives, and robust treaty networks. Consult with tax professionals to determine the most suitable holding structure for your business.

  4. Repatriation of Profits: Develop strategies for tax-efficient repatriation of profits earned by international subsidiaries. This may involve assessing the most effective methods for repatriation, such as dividends, royalties, management fees, or intercompany loans. Consider factors such as withholding taxes, thin capitalization rules, and other tax regulations in both the source and destination countries.

  5. Value Chain Optimization: Analyze your business's value chain to identify opportunities for tax optimization. This involves strategically locating certain functions, assets, and risks in jurisdictions with favorable tax regimes. This can help allocate profits appropriately and ensure compliance with transfer pricing regulations.

  6. Tax Incentives and Special Economic Zones: Explore tax incentives and benefits available in certain jurisdictions for specific industries or activities. Some countries offer special economic zones or free trade zones that provide tax advantages, such as reduced corporate tax rates, customs duty exemptions, and streamlined regulatory processes.

Improving your tax knowledge


Improving your tax knowledge is crucial for better understanding the tax implications and opportunities for your business and corporation tax returns. Here are some steps to enhance your tax knowledge:

  1. Research and Stay Updated: Dedicate time to research and understand the tax laws and regulations relevant to your business. Keep up with changes in tax legislation including pending tax legislation, as tax laws are subject to regular updates.

  2. Attend Tax Seminars and Workshops: Participate in tax seminars, workshops, and training sessions offered by tax professionals or industry associations. You can learn from tax savings workshops to lower your taxes. These events provide valuable insights into tax planning strategies, new developments, and case studies. There are also many small business tax planning webinars to help reduce your taxes.

  3. Consult with a Tax Professional: Consider working with a qualified tax professional who specializes in business taxes. A tax advisor can provide personalized guidance, assist with tax planning, and ensure compliance with tax laws. They can also help identify potential tax-saving opportunities specific to your industry or business structure.

  4. Utilize Online Resources: Take advantage of online resources to expand your tax knowledge. Various government websites, tax publications, and reputable tax software providers offer educational materials, tax calculators, and guidance on specific tax topics.

Keeping good business records


Keeping good records is essential for effective business tax planning and compliance. Here's why maintaining accurate and organized records is crucial:

  1. Proper Documentation: Good record-keeping ensures that you have the necessary documentation to support your business transactions, expenses, and income. This includes maintaining receipts, invoices, bank statements, and other financial records. These documents serve as evidence in case of an audit or when filing tax returns.

  2. Compliance with Tax Regulations: Keeping detailed records helps ensure compliance with tax regulations. By accurately tracking your income and expenses, you can accurately report them on your tax returns, reducing the risk of errors or omissions that may trigger penalties or audits. It also enables you to meet the substantiation requirements for specific deductions, credits, or exemptions.

  3. Maximizing Deductions and Credits: Proper record-keeping allows you to identify and claim all eligible deductions and credits, minimizing your tax liability. By having organized records, you can easily identify deductible business expenses, such as office supplies, travel expenses, and business-related meals, and accurately calculate allowable deductions.

  4. Audit Defense: In the event of an audit, thorough and well-organized records can make the process smoother and less stressful. You can provide supporting documentation to validate your reported income and deductions, demonstrating compliance with tax laws. Having complete and organized records helps protect your business's financial integrity and credibility during an audit.

Working with business tax professionals


Working with business tax professionals can be highly beneficial for your small business tax planning. Here's why:

  1. Expertise and Knowledge: Business tax professionals specialize in tax laws and regulations. They have in-depth knowledge and understanding of complex tax codes, deductions, credits, and exemptions. Their expertise ensures accurate tax preparation, maximization of deductions, and identification of potential tax-saving opportunities specific to your business.

  2. Tax Planning and Strategy: Tax professionals can develop customized tax planning strategies tailored to your business goals. They analyze your financial situation, industry-specific tax regulations, and business structure to identify ways to minimize your tax liability. They can advise on timing income and expenses, optimizing deductions, and utilizing tax credits and incentives.

  3. Compliance and Avoidance of Penalties: Tax professionals help ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations, minimizing the risk of errors or omissions on your tax returns. A good tax advisor can help you reduce your tax bill. They stay updated on changing tax rules and filing requirements, reducing the chances of audits or penalties due to non-compliance.

  4. Time and Cost Savings: Delegating tax-related tasks to professionals frees up your time to focus on core business activities. Tax professionals efficiently handle tax preparation, filing, and compliance, saving you valuable time and effort. Additionally, their expertise can potentially lead to significant tax savings, offsetting their fees.

  5. Audit Support and Representation: In the event of an audit or tax-related dispute, tax professionals can provide valuable support. They represent your interests, respond to audit inquiries, and help navigate the audit process. Their knowledge and experience can significantly reduce the stress and burden associated with an audit.

  6. Strategic Business Advice: Tax professionals often have a broader understanding of financial and business matters. They can provide valuable insights and advice beyond tax planning, helping you make informed decisions that align with your business goals. Their perspective can contribute to overall financial planning and growth strategies.

When selecting a tax professional, consider their qualifications, experience, and reputation. Look for certifications such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent (EA).




Implementing effective tax planning strategies is essential for optimizing financial outcomes and ensuring compliance with all tax law and regulations. By strategically managing income, expenses, deductions, and credits, businesses can minimize their tax liabilities, maximize savings, and allocate resources more efficiently.

The three basic tax planning strategies include timing income and expenses strategically, taking advantage of business tax deductions, and leveraging tax credits and incentives. Seeking professional advice from tax experts is crucial to stay updated on evolving tax laws and regulations, ensuring accurate compliance, and maximizing tax benefits.

With a well-rounded tax planning approach, businesses can optimize their financial position and thrive in a competitive marketplace. 

If you are interested in learning about some of our other global tax services, take a look at our individual tax services or international tax services.

Why H&CO?


H&CO's bilingual trusted CPA Tax Advisors have been doing income tax planning for small businesses, large businesses, international corporations, business owners, investors, global families, and foreign individuals with complex tax needs, for over 30 years. You can talk to our CPAs in one of our offices near you in Miami, Coral Gables, Aventura, and Fort Lauderdale.

Make income tax planning an integral part of your business operations.

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