Filing It Down: 10 Tax Tips for Restaurants


You may have been doing a lot more advertising to drive business, and you can deduct those advertising expenses, which include signage, social media advertising, and promotions. In general, you can deduct a variety of your restaurant’s operating expenses as long as they’re considered ordinary and necessary for your company. Many general office expenses that pertain to office can be deducted in this category. Platforms like Yelp, printing flyers, purchasing billboard space, or hiring a copywriter, keep track of all those payments and deduct them from your taxes later.

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For example you may need to call a plumber to fix a leaking faucet or fix a broken glass door. For your restaurant businesses any raw food and supplies purchases you do in order to prepare food and serve can be included in COGS. These might include items such as sugar, salt, Meat, flour, oil and so on. In order to run your restaurant business your business rent is tax deductible along with any storage rent you may be paying to public storage or any other place to store your inventory or furniture. This can include a point of sale system, dishwashers, ovens, tables and chairs, kitchen equipment, and all the bits and bobs restaurants need like plates and cups and napkins.

Other tax benefits

You can also account for indirect costs like oil and condiments, as well as food and beverage that is wasted, spoiled, or otherwise discarded. Write off costs as they are incurred, not as the food is consumed. You also need to track how much money employees are collecting in tips to make sure that this amount, plus your base salary, is enough to at least get them to minimum wage.


Follow the guidelines discussed above and consider using Square for Restaurants to simplify sales tax compliance. For more information about this provision, as well as details on the special recordkeeping rules that apply to business meals, see IRS Publication 463, Travel, Gift, and Car Expenses. If you know you’ll be making a large business purchase, such as new equipment or furniture, consider purchasing before the end of the tax year in order to claim the deduction in that year. You can claim depreciation on business assets such as equipment, furniture, and vehicles.

Employee meals

Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings. You are now leaving the National Funding website, and are being connected to a third party website. Please note that National Funding is not responsible for the information, content, or product found on third party websites. You work hard for your money, and you deserve to legally keep as much of it as possible to put your restaurant on a prosperous path. Deducting a net operating loss can be really complicated, so before I even step forward on this one, talk to your CPA if you have one.

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And one of the best ways to do that is to take advantage of all the tax deductions available to you. For the 2021 and 2022 tax years, many business meals are 100% deductible. That is no longer the case, as of January 1, 2023 according to the Consolidated Appropriations Act.

Home office deduction

You brought in more revenue, and the cost of getting the food there can be expensed. Do you have someone just hot-tailing your delicious platters to your customers? Chances are, you had either a delivery service or a driver buzzing your meals out to customers while they were still hot. Here are 12 ways to do it, with a PDF at the end of 56 action-packed pages of IRS material outlining other deductions. We’ve tried to save you the trouble of reading through them all with these 12. In your calculation, don’t forget to include storage, delivery costs, takeout containers, and merchandise you buy for resale (like cookbooks or cooking-themed gifts).

advantage of tax

If you conduct business during, after or before the business meal you get to deduct it. Please verify this with your accountant as this category is changing all the time. If you hire employees and pay them wages, you get to deduct these from your gross income. In addition to employee salary you can also deduct employer portion of payroll taxes as well.

Or, in the case where you tried to fix the toilet and sink by yourself and instead ended up exploding water all over the place and had to call a plumber, that’s deductible as well. However, once you’ve calculated it, you can use it as a deduction as well. You can depreciate the vehicle, but at least 50% of its use must be for the business. Additionally, an employer may not treat certain employer-operated eating facilities as restaurants, even if these facilities are operated by a third party under contract with the employer. The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.


In other words, you can xerox developer program the cost to replace a broken window in the first year, but you must depreciate the cost of new energy-efficient windows. You can’t deduct costs for driving back and forth to your restaurant from home. That’s considered commuting, and it’s never deductible as a business expense. For example for a restaurant A city License, County License and Health permits may be required. These are all required to operate your business hence they are fully tax deductible.

The cost of providing meals to employees at a restaurant’s physical location is generally deductible to the restaurant and not taxable to employees. This cost may be included in the cost of food, or it may be recorded as a separate expense. Servers should also take note of what they can deduct for their personal taxes.

An Affordable Bookkeeping Alternative to a CFO

If three months’ worth of purchase orders are compared to total drink sales and the numbers don’t add up, additional taxes may be owed. For this purpose, grocery stores, convenience stores and other businesses that primarily sell pre-packaged goods not for immediate consumption, do not qualify as restaurants. Additionally, an employer may not treat certain employer-operated eating facilities as restaurants, even if they are operated under contract by a third party.

The maximum deduction is $1,500, based on business use of at least 300 square feet. With a growing number of business owners now working from home, many may qualify for the home office deduction, also known as the deduction for business use of a home. It’s also a good time to brush up on tax obligations regarding the reporting of tips with your current staff.

This requires the presentation of gross receipts and accurate accounting, so everyone needs to be involved to make sure the process goes smoothly. Only temporary until 2016, there is now permanent tax deduction for equipment purchases for small businesses. Certain large capital investments, which could previously only be depreciated over a number of years, can now be taken as a lump sum deduction in the year of the purchase.

“ordinary and necessary”

This deduction allows you to deduct a portion of your rent, mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, and other expenses based on the percentage of your home used for business. If you deliver food to customers or cater events, you have two options to deduct the transportation costs. The easiest way is to track your total mileage, as the IRS lets you deduct a standard rate of 58 cents per mile driven. Make sure you are fully up-to-date on the sales tax requirements of the city and state in which your restaurant is located.


For example, servers can usually deduct licenses like a food handler’s license, mileage driven while at work, or work requirements like uniforms. Tips given to tip pools that are then distributed aren’t taxable either, though servers are required to keep track of their tips and report them to the IRS. Take caution in what you itemize, however, as not everything you donate is actually deductible. The cost of food provided is certainly deductible, but staff time or the full cost of services as charged to the public is not.

Expenses paid to promote your businesses such as Google AdWords, Print Advertising, Post Cards, Door Hangers, Coupons, Digital Advertising and Marketing can all be deductible form you income. When you are a Restaurant owner, you have dozens of things to manage from employees, inventory and insurance.Its critical that you watch for every penny so you can maximize your profit. Small change in food cost or labor cost can dramatically change your profitability. 45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia legally require businesses to charge sales tax. The break is meant to make it easier on cash flow for small businesses to buy up to $500,000 worth of qualifying equipment — including computers, vehicles, furniture, and kitchen appliances.

If not, your restaurant must make up the difference in salary, according to NOLO. However, your restaurant cannot deduct the value of tips given to your servers. The IRS considers that the money went directly to the employee and didn’t come from you. Always maintain solid tax records by documenting all purchases and keeping all relevant receipts on file. Plus, once you choose either of these write-off options, you’re generally stuck with this method for several tax-filing years. So, it’s wise to make the calculations to determine which option will save you the most on your taxes.

Providing guidance under the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act of 2020. The Act added a temporary exception to the 50% limit on the amount that businesses may deduct for food or beverages. The temporary exception allows a 100% deduction for food or beverages from restaurants. Just like on an individual tax return, business owners are able to deduct their donations to organizations with 501 status , whether it involves cash or an activity hosted on their behalf.

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