What Deductions Can You Take for a Direct Sales Home Business?
Direct sales reps work for companies such as Avon, Mary Kay and Tupperware that bypass stores and sell directly to consumers. It's an easy business to work from home, and the business use of your home qualifies you for several tax deductions. You report your direct-sales income on Schedule C, as a self-employed individual.
If you run your business out of a home office, or you store inventory at home, you can deduct part of your housing costs as business expenses. To qualify as a home office, the space has to be exclusively reserved for business. Working on a laptop in the living room does not do the trick. Inventory storage space can be used for other purposes part of the time. If you devote 12 percent of your home to business, you can take off 12 percent of expenses.
You can write off a percentage of general home expenses such as mortgage interest, insurance, utilities and property taxes. You can also take a deduction for general repairs to your air conditioning, locks or roof. Repairs specifically devoted to another part of the house, such as the kitchen, aren't deductible. Money you spend on your business space, including repairs, computers, desks, file cabinets and shelves for storing inventory, is 100 percent deductible.
If you travel from your home to visit clients, deliver merchandise or attend company meetings, you can deduct 56.5 cents for every mile you drive for business, as of 2013. Alternatively, you can calculate how much of your total driving is for business: if it's, say, 40 percent, you can write off 40 percent of your gas, repairs, insurance and other costs for the years. To justify the deduction, you need records that show where you drove, how far, and what your business reason for the trip was.
If you keep an inventory at your house, it counts as a business asset. The cost of the inventory you sell during the year is a write-off from your sales revenue. If you sell a hundred $30 items that you bought from the company for $20, your revenue is $3,000 but you subtract $2,000, leaving $1,000 in taxable income. The cost of demonstration models or samples is a business expense. If you use your product yourself, however, the IRS says you can't claim that as a demonstration or advertising write-off.