Home Based Business: Your Ultimate Tax Shelter

Starting and operating your own home based business is
the ultimate tax shelter.

Although this article has been written from a Canadian
income tax perspective, the principles should be
practical in other tax jurisdictions.

1. Non-Deductible Personal Living Expenses

All of us have expenses that we incur in everyday

Either you rent an apartment or house or you own your
residence. Utilities, insurance, rent, mortgage
interest, property taxes, and maintenance and repairs
are typical costs of operating your home.

Likely, you have a vehicle which also consumes large
amounts of cash.

Add to this, dining out, entertainment, gifts,
alcoholic beverages, office supplies, telephone and
many other expenditures, and you have a significant
cash outflow.

In most cases, as an employee, retired person,
investor, student, or homemaker, few of these
expenses are tax-deductible to you.

This means that you must earn a considerable income,
pay your income taxes first, and then use what is
left to pay all your expenses.

Some employees may be able to write-off some of
their employment related expenses, if such are
required by their contract of employment. However,
even in this situation, the tax deductions are very

2. Your Own Home Based Business Means Tax Deductions

Now consider the situation where you decide to start
your own home based business.

Suddenly, many of your everyday expenses are now being
used for business purposes and are now tax-deductible.

If you use one quarter of your home exclusively for
business use, you will be able to deduct (or write-off)
one quarter of all related occupancy costs. These
expenses may include maintenance and repairs (that are
not capital in nature), rent, mortgage interest, house
or apartment insurance, power, heat, water, and
property taxes.

As well, your vehicle expenses used for business
purposes are another tax write-off. If you use your
car ninety percent for business purposes, you can
deduct ninety percent of your vehicle insurance, gas
and oil, maintenance and repairs, car washes, license
and registration, auto club, loan interest (within
certain limits), and other costs from your income.
You may also write-off one hundred percent of your
business related parking. Capital Cost Allownance
(C.C.A.) on your vehicle is also allowed for income tax
purposes; depreciation is the accounting term for this
tax deduction.

The Canadian government also allows as a deduction,
fifty percent of your business related entertainment

Also tax-deductible are business related telephone
expenses, Internet access, office supplies, travel,
books, memberships, and a host of other expenditures.

3. Income Splitting with Your Home Based Business

If you have a high paying job, you will pay higher
taxes because the rates of tax increase as your income

With your own business, you can pay reasonable wages to
your spouse and children. In this way, you can legally
divert income taxed at your higher rate to your family
members that are in a lower tax bracket.

This tax saving technique is called income splitting.
It is another good reason why your own home based
business is the ultimate tax shelter.

4. Even a Part-Time Home Based Business Works

Even if you have a full-time job, running a part-time
business can be advantageous.

Of course, you must actually run a real, moneymaking
business. Any attempts to write unprofitable hobbies
off will ultimately fail with the taxation authorities.

If you earned eight thousand dollars during the year
from your part-time business and were able to deduct
eight thousand dollars in car expenses, home office
expenses, entertainment costs, office supplies, and
other business related expenditures, you would have a
net business income of nil. You would pay no tax on
this additional income.

Don`t miss this important point! Although these tax
deductions are actual, legitimate business expenses,
these are expenditures you would probably have made
anyway, whether you had a business or not.

Thus, by rearranging your affairs to start and operate
a home based business, you have been able to convert
non-deductible personal expenditures into legally
deductible business expenses. You have successfully
sheltered your income from tax and have split your
income with family members in lower tax brackets.

Yes, indeed, your home based business has become
your ultimate tax shelter.

Managing Your Home Based Online Business – 2

In the first part of this series of articles, on managing your online business at home, I wrote about the many management responsibilities and functions you have rolled into one if you have your own sole proprietor business, with no staff. Your management task is perhaps the most difficult of all. You have to manage yourself, in all those different areas of your business such as finance, marketing, purchasing and computing.

I believe that if you think of your new home business as having different areas of management for you to concentrate on, you are more likely to succeed long term. If you can adopt some of the techniques of good management, you will end up with a more sound business that will stand the test of time. You will be a better decision maker, and it is decisions that dictate the progress or downfall of any business. Decision making needs to be unemotional and as scientific as possible, but as much as anything needs to be based on common sense. Good management is often a matter of common sense, and that is why I believe you, whatever your background, can run a successful business limited only by your ambitions.

The other virtue you will need in abundance is patience, and this an area where you definitely need to manage yourself. Impatience brings emotion into your decision making. It also brings self criticism, or criticism of others, when none is either deserved or necessary. Patience, realism and common sense combined will contribute greatly to making you a good business manager. With those three attributes, you will be well placed to learn the skills of management in the context of your own small business. You will be able to learn how the different functions of a business relate to each other and interact.

That is not easy, but over time, if you apply yourself, it will all fall into place. This is where patience is vital. Your age or background do not necessarily matter. I know that in my late 20’s I did not really understand business and how it all fitted together. At 30, I knew I needed some sort of professional qualification, and I decided on management accountancy. The syllabus was tough, with 18 exams over 2 and a half to 5 years. What surprised me was the variety of subjects to cover. There were exams in company law, business law, economics, corporate planning, marketing, production, decision making, cost accounting, management accounting, mathematics and statistics. Each subject was very different. Then, at the end, I suddenly realized that all of them knitted together. The ones I hated (law) and loved (marketing) all had a place in the scheme of things.

You, of course, have no need to study or be an expert in all of those things. But it does help to at least be aware that some of them are, in their own way, critical to your success. If you are taking a long term view of things, which you should be if you are serious about having your own home business, you have plenty of time to learn about those subjects that are most critical for your business:


Whatever your business, this is a very critical function for you to understand and manage, so when it comes to learning all you can, financial management is a priority. Much of this is again common sense, and realism, and there are many tools around to help you keep good financial records. But as I mentioned before, it is decisions that dictate the progress or downfall of any business. All decisions you make will have a financial impact on your business. However, good financial records alone will not bring the reward of better decision making. If you want to maximize the profits of your home business, you may find it helps to have other, non-financial records to aid your decisions. I will discuss this more in part 3 of this series of articles.


Marketing is what I love most about business, and it is equally important to finance in all free enterprises. With an online business, the marketing side is an ever moving area of expertise. Offline, marketing has long since stabilised. Online, it has not stabilised at all; it is still developing and evolving. You need to be aware of what’s happening in the world of internet marketing, what has happened, and what is likely to happen. Always remember, though, there will always be a financial impact of your marketing decisions. You are obviously prepared to take risks, as you have started or are starting an online business at home. As the manager of your business you will need to balance the financial and marketing conflicts as they arise. You have to strike the right balance. If the finance director in you is too risk averse, you may stifle the growth of your business. If the marketing director in you is too cavalier, and unrealistic about sales prospects, you may ruin your business in one or two rash decisions. More on this in part 4.


If you are working online full time, or even part time, you will always need to be looking out for developments in the arenas of software and the internet itself, and maybe at times hardware. You may come across software that either improves your efficiency, makes life much easier or takes you into a new and better way of working. This is another area where knowledge is power. You need to be competitive, and sometimes you will come across new software that will make you more competitive. Try to keep abreast of things in the software marketplace, as it affects your business.

Time Management

While not a function like finance or marketing, when you work at home alone you will find that time management becomes key to your success and enjoyment of working from home. It is a subject you should always be aware of and make conscious decisions about. I will write more on this topic in part 5.

The above are just the key areas where you need to view your business from a management viewpoint, and the list of course is not exhaustive. However, pay attention to these from a manager’s perspective, and you should benefit in the long run. You will take the leap from being “employee” to “boss”, even if you are the only one you can be “boss” to.

Part 2 of 5 On The Home Business Set-Up Guide

Part 2 of 5 On The Home Business Set-Up Guide

Dear Reader,

These articles will provide a step by step guide on how to start and run a home based business based on my experiences and other home business owners. This is part 2 in a series of 5 articles. They are written in a basic format and where possible main points are summarised in an attempt to be understood by all. I have tried to minimise the technical jargon as much as possible.

So lets jump right in and see what we need to know about starting and running a home based business.


I publish Home Business Tips, a fresh and informative newsletter dedicated to supporting people like YOU! If you’re looking for the best rated home business opportunities, latest time saving tools and helpful support from a friend in the business, come by and a grab a F-R-E-E subscription today at: http://www.parttimeincome.org

Legal Structures

The legal structure of your business is very important as it is a function of liabilities and tax deduction. The most common structures are:

§ Sole trader
§ Partnership
§ Company
§ Trust

Sole Trader

When you are a sole trader you are personally responsible and liable for the business and its activities. Commonly you may start out as a sole trader, and as you expand, you will need to seek out partners or investors. Your accountant is the best person to advise you if this is the best structure for your business.


This arrangement is where you and your partner are liable for anything related to your business. It is a very good idea to get a solicitor to write up a partnership agreement to avoid disputes down the track.


This is a legal entity liable for the debts it incurs and paying tax on income. Your accountant can help you set a company up, or you can buy one off the shelf, which may be more cost effective.


Depending on your personal circumstances, and the country you live in, trusts can be useful in business and estate planning. They can be quite complex, and again, your accountant is the best person to speak too.

Registering Your Business Name

You can operate a business under your own name or register a business name. Registration of a business name allows you to operate under that name.

Select a name for your business that describes to your customer what you do. A descriptive name promotes and advertises your business more effectively.

Licences And Permits

Depending on your municipality, you may need licences and permits. Do the right thing and check with your local council. Doing the right things now will save you a lot of unnecessary leg work later.


Often overlooked, insurance is an important part of your risk management plan. There are two types of insurance: general insurance for loss/damage of assets and risk insurance which is your personal insurance cover.

Ensure your business insurance is separate to your personal insurance.
To establish the type and amount of insurance you need for your home based business, check with an insurance broker.

Managing Risk

You must have a risk management strategy for your business. Your SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analysis from article one, will show what could expose your business to loss and what actions to take to reduce that loss.


As a home business entrepreneur, you must understand what your customers want and give it to them. You must strive to have a service or product that meets and excels your customers needs and expectations. This is what makes them come back to buy from you, and this is how you grow your profit. Try and think like your customers and you will find they want:

§ Satisfaction
§ Value for money
§ Performance
§ Reliability
§ Presentation

Don’t confuse marketing with selling. In a home based business, marketing is much much more and involves all aspects of the business- pricing, advertising, customer service to sales.

Marketing Mix

Communication with your customers is essential and develops the framework for your marketing strategy. You must tell your customers these important bits of information

§ Product- describe it in full detail, its special features and of course how it will benefit the customer

§ Price – explain your pricing strategy, don’t forget to consider your costs, discounts you will offer, payment policies

§ Promotion – choose the most effective for your type of business. If you don’t know, think about what you would prefer if you were the customer. Eg: telemarketing, flyers, e-mail campaigns

§ Place – what place will your product be so customers can find it and contact you. How will you deliver the product to your customers? You may need to consider getting a website.

Your Business Image

Even though you are running a home based business, make sure your office is comfortable and professional in appearance. Your website also needs to project the same kind of professionalism


Your home based business needs its own dedicated area. Very often the living and working areas muddle into one, not allowing you to distinguish which is for work and for play. Keeping these separate is essential for running a home business. You must ensure that all family members understand this too.
A telephone is essential in your home office as it will be the first point of contact with your clients. Installing a second phone line separate from the personal line is essential along with a cell phone, answering machine and a pager. Talk to your telecommunications company, very often they have some great packages suited to small businesses.

Furniture And Equipment

Choose furniture that is comfortable and professional. This helps distinguish this area from the rest of the household.

Your office needs equipment and here are a few to get you kick started:

§ Computer
§ Chair(S)
§ Desk
§ Fax machine
§ Filing cabinet
§ Mobile phone
§ Telephone
§ Heating/cooling
§ Lighting

I hope this article has set you on the path to create your own home based business and empower you to reach your financial destiny.
In the next article, I will cover some of the ins and outs of operating a small business from home.

How to Tackle the Three Major Stresses Associated with Every Home-Based Business

Owning your own home-based business is by and large a very rewarding, exciting endeavor. You can set your own schedule, and be where you want, when you want. You can oftentimes forego the commute to a “regular job” and save money on gas and other “niceties” that are expensive in the work-a-day world, such as lunches, parking fees, etc.

There are unexpected pitfalls and disadvantages, though, in the owning and operating of a home-based business. Some are psychological, some are emotional, and others are purely physical. The unexpected stresses of a home-based business are really one of the major obstacles that need to be overcome by business owners. Many new business owners are unprepared for just how much stress is involved, actually.

Home-based business stresses usually fall into three overall categories:

1. Psychological : Employees, Finances, Legal, and Operations

2. Emotional: Family, Friends, Change of Personal Routines, Personal Disruptions, Isolation

3. Physical: Sedentary Lifestyle, Poor Eating Habits, Overwork

Many business owners, in order to prevent the psychological stress will have plans in place for dealing with these particular stress factors, prior to their occurrence. This is a proactive approach that is infinitely better than having a reactive approach to these occurrences.

Each business owner should have a financial plan in place for the times when orders or clients are few and far between (slow times), as well as a good accountant to call when necessary. Each business owner should also have a lawyer who they trust and can turn to for advice if necessary (we do live in a very litigious society). And each business owner should have a plan for sickness among employees and hiring and firing protocols firmly in place. Machinery and replacement of business supplies should also be well planned in advance, and purchased according to well laid out plans for expenditures.

Leadership skills will need to be developed, as a new business owner who is used to being part of a team, will find working alone and “being in charge” a somewhat difficult transition at first. Books on leadership skills abound and it is a good idea to do readings on the development of these to proactively avoid the psychological stress that comes with this change in roles. Working alone and making decisions alone is quite different from the conformity and decisions made within a group.

If a proactive approach is taken, the psychological stresses of a new business can easily be prevented, or at least lessened.

The emotional stresses of a home-based business are usually a bit more difficult to ascertain and tackle when they occur. Some of these stress factors can come directly from well-meaning family and friends, unfortunately, and the approach is of course, much different. Since a home-based business is directly tied usually to the home life of an individual, there is less chance to escape these stresses, than with a traditional method of employment. A new birth in a family, a death of a loved one, illness, or simply a change of schedule of another family member, can greatly impact the daily workings and routine of a home-based business.

In addition, family and friends may view the business owner as “being at their disposal” all day now, as the business owner is now “home” much of the time. These well meaning individuals may call or visit all the time, and also expect the business owner to take care of their needs before the needs of the business. This is simple human nature, but is very distracting for the business owner. The only way this can be successfully overcome is to make plans well ahead of time for any changes in routine, if possible, and adjust the schedule accordingly as the changes occur. Well meaning family and friends need to be told with certainty that there are “business hours” and “personal hours” and a business owner needs to remain firm in their resolve in regard to these issues.

Stressing over emotional stress will just escalate an already stressful situation.

Another unexpected emotional stress comes many times from the feeling of isolation and loneliness that business owners may experience. Business owners many times are unprepared for the time they now find they spend alone within the parameters of their home-based businesses. A home-based business owner, while relieved to leave the workforce, sometimes does not realize that the workforce provided social opportunities that are now missing from their lives. Many hours may be spent alone each day, which can lead to loneliness and even depression in some cases.

The best approach to combating this type of isolation is to actively plan social opportunities. Planned outings with family and friends should be made regularly. Business owners may also join community groups that expose them to other business owners or others within the community. The local Chamber of Commerce and other volunteer groups are a great way to make connections for the business and also enhance the social experiences of business owners. No one can exist in a void, so the social aspects of a business can’t be ignored.

Finally, owning and operating your own home-based business brings with it some purely physical stresses. Like most office jobs, a home-based business can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle, as owners may spend most of their days in the running of the business, either slumped in an office chair, or hunched over a computer, depending upon the requirements of the business. Because of the long hours involved in any business, business owners may also eat “on the run”, grabbing whatever is at their disposal, rather than planning meals, which compromises their nutrition. The sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits can lead to weight gain and other physical ailments associated with poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles: high cholesterol, lack of energy, loss of muscle tone, and a deficiency of vitamin D from being indoors more than usual.

The sedentary lifestyle is the easiest however, of the stresses to avoid or to change. All it takes is a dedication to an exercise routine that includes some form of daily physical exercise, and an adherence to a diet that is well planned and nutritious. Just some planning is needed and some will power in order to stay focused on achieving physical activity daily and good nutrition. It would be beneficial, if at all possible, to join a gym or health club, as the physical and emotional stresses can be avoided by belonging to one, as a gym also provides social opportunities. Even a simple walk each day can increase exercise, exposure to sunlight, and create social opportunities.

A tendency to do too much each day, is a syndrome many business owners fall prey to also. Overwork can leave anyone run down, and open to many diseases as the immune system becomes compromised. A business owner is of course, very excited and energetic about the business, which can lead into this syndrome of overwork. A schedule should be maintained to combat this syndrome, with set hours for “doing business” and set hours for “relaxation” included in each day. Trying to do too much all the time just leads business owners into a decrease of productivity, rather than an increase of productivity.

As you can see, having a home-based business, while very rewarding in many ways, can have many deleterious effects on the physical, mental and emotional states of business owners. Many business owners fail to plan for these changes, and yet, if planning is done, the negative effects can be minimized to a great degree.

If a business owner takes care of themselves and their own needs, overall, the business will also profit from this positive behavior! A happy, healthy business owner means a happy, healthy business!

10 Incredibly important business basics EVERYONE needs to know BEFORE they start a business!

In my career, I have had a total of 3 businesses myself and a few others where I am in partnerships. Each time you start a business the basics are pretty well the same. Here are 10 things I believe are really important for anyone starting up a business….

1. Don’t waste your dollars on things you don’t need. This alone is one of the biggest reasons people go under. You simply won’t need expensive office equipment, computers, phone systems etc when starting out. You’ll be surprised at how well a computer of 2 years will perform in caparison to one that’s brand new for triple the price! Be real with your $$$$. The basic here is that if it’s not going to make money for you, build or protect your business then simply AND quickly look/walk away so you’re not tempted to buy it – extravagance has no place when your starting a business on a budget. If you’ve got hundreds of thousands to splurge though, forget all of the above and go to point 2!

2. Develop a plan of where you wish for you AND your business to be this time next year. You will need to think about such things as a basic marketing plan to so you know what marketing you need to do to achieve that outcome. Starting and building a business is like building a house without the framework it’s bound to crumble. Think of your business plan as your roadmap – without it you don’t know where you’re headed or how to get there. So take a couple of hours and give it some consideration, if you’re serious about developing a successful business then I’m sure you can get serious enough to schedule some time in to do it.

3. Ask and get advise – this is huge! This one factor if not done or acted upon can send you under in a quick way! Ask professionals for help and guidance, they will steer you clear of known traps that you just won’t know about starting out (I’ve learnt this one the hard way!). You don’t need to be a hero and do everything, and think of everything, yourself. Hate to tell you this but, when you start out you DON’T know everything OK – so don’t embarrass yourself by thinking you do, as the only one you’ll fool will be yourself(indeed years down the track I’m still learning something everyday)

4. Make sure your business look is congruent. Have a business name that explains what you do so you’re customers are buying or dealing from you rather than trying to figure out what you do. BEFORE you register the name, check that you can also get the website domain for it too. It’s a real inconvenience and creates dramas for your customer AND you having to explain it to everyone! Colours, style etc need to be the same throughout your website, stationary, business cards etc

5. Hire right – if you are in the retail sector than hire a people person with personality plus over someone with the skills – you can teach practical skills such as taking money etc – but you can’t teach people skills. If you need someone for accounts or admin where they aren’t dealing with your customers then obviously the skills are more important.

6. Base your business on how you can add value to your customers. You’d be surprised how your business it will grow by suiting the needs of your ‘ideal’ client AND looking after them each and every time.

7. Know, understand and keep in contact with clients you WANT to deal with – it will not only make business more pleasurable for you and the clients will love dealing with you as you’re always happy etc too – happy clients, more business, more referrals, less money spent on advertising and marketing!

8. Get organised – for goodness sake, NO ONE enjoys being stuffed around by someone always giving excuses for their mess, un-organisation, forgetting to follow through, not implementing, lack of communication, being late etc etc etc – get yourself some solid an effective systems to back you up in business so you can do it right EVERY time.

9. Work WITHIN your budget – never above it. It is disastrous to think “Oh we’ll get more money in, it’ll be right, or oh such as such is expected to pay this month” etc – it won’t be – be conservative in your spend otherwise you will go under before you can blink! Don’t sign leases or contracts on anything based on a projected income – you’re playing with fire and you’ll be busy enough without the stress and pressure of this to add to your lot.

10. Outsource what you’re not good at or don’t like. I’ll admit it I do not enjoy any form of admin – yet I’m a perfectionist and need everything to be systemised so it frees me up to be creative. So instead of learning how to do accounts in MYOB and instead of procrastinating for days on filing etc (after I gave both a go time and again) it was easier, quicker and more productive for me and my business to outsource it to someone who WAS passionate about doing it. Not only do they do it in a fraction of the time – but they do it well because they love doing it!

Of course I could easily keep going on – there’s always something you learn in business – however I’m sure these 10 will give you a great place to start…

And one more thing ENJOY what you’re doing – if you’re not, you’re definitely in the wrong game and now is a good time to change careers!

Abundant Success To You!

Rachael Bermingham



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