You can deduct various federal, state, local, and foreign taxes directly attributable to your trade or business as business
You cannot deduct federal income taxes, estate and gift taxes, or state inheritance, legacy, and succession taxes.
Generally, you can only deduct taxes in the year you pay them. This applies whether you use the cash method or an accrual
method of accounting.
Under an accrual method, you can deduct a tax before you pay it if you meet the exception for recurring items discussed under
Economic Performance in Publication 538. You can also elect to ratably accrue real estate taxes as discussed later under
Real Estate Taxes
Limit on accrual of taxes.
A taxing jurisdiction can require the use of a date for accruing taxes that is earlier than the date it originally
required. However, if you use an accrual method, and can deduct the tax before you pay it, use the original accrual date for
the year of change and all future years to determine when you can deduct the tax.
Your state imposes a tax on personal property used in a trade or business conducted in the state. This tax is assessed and
becomes a lien as of July 1 (accrual date). In 2015, the state changed the assessment and lien dates from July 1, 2016, to
December 31, 2015, for property tax year 2016. Use the original accrual date (July 1, 2016) to determine when you can deduct
the tax. You must also use the July 1 accrual date for all future years to determine when you can deduct the tax.
Uniform capitalization rules.
Uniform capitalization rules apply to certain taxpayers who produce real property or tangible personal property for
use in a trade or business or for sale to customers. They also apply to certain taxpayers who acquire property for resale.
Under these rules, you either include certain costs in inventory or capitalize certain expenses related to the property, such
as taxes. For more information, see chapter 1
Carrying charges include taxes you pay to carry or develop real estate or to carry, transport, or install personal
property. You can elect to capitalize carrying charges not subject to the uniform capitalization rules if they are otherwise
deductible. For more information, see chapter 7
Refunds of taxes.
If you receive a refund for any taxes you deducted in an earlier year, include the refund in income to the extent
the deduction reduced your federal income tax in the earlier year. For more information, see
Recovery of amount deducted (tax benefit rule)
in chapter 1
You must include in income any interest you receive on tax refunds.
Deductible real estate taxes are any state, local, or foreign taxes on real estate levied for the general public welfare.
The taxing authority must base the taxes on the assessed value of the real estate and charge them uniformly against all property
under its jurisdiction. Deductible real estate taxes generally do not include taxes charged for local benefits and improvements
that increase the value of the property. See
Taxes for local benefits
If you use an accrual method, you generally cannot accrue real estate taxes until you pay them to the government authority.
However, you can elect to ratably accrue the taxes during the year. See
Electing to ratably accrue
Taxes for local benefits.
Generally, you cannot deduct taxes charged for local benefits and improvements that tend to increase the value of
your property. These include assessments for streets, sidewalks, water mains, sewer lines, and public parking facilities.
You should increase the basis of your property by the amount of the assessment.
You can deduct taxes for these local benefits only if the taxes are for maintenance, repairs, or interest charges
related to those benefits. If part of the tax is for maintenance, repairs, or interest, you must be able to show how much
of the tax is for these expenses to claim a deduction for that part of the tax.
To improve downtown commercial business, Waterfront City converted a downtown business area street into an enclosed pedestrian
mall. The city assessed the full cost of construction, financed with 10-year bonds, against the affected properties. The city
is paying the principal and interest with the annual payments made by the property owners.
The assessments for construction costs are not deductible as taxes or as business expenses, but are depreciable capital expenses.
The part of the payments used to pay the interest charges on the bonds is deductible as taxes.
Charges for services.
Water bills, sewerage, and other service charges assessed against your business property are not real estate taxes,
but are deductible as business expenses.
Purchase or sale of real estate.
If real estate is sold, the real estate taxes must be allocated between the buyer and the seller.
The buyer and seller must allocate the real estate taxes according to the number of days in the real property tax
year (the period to which the tax imposed relates) that each owned the property. Treat the seller as paying the taxes up to
but not including the date of sale. Treat the buyer as paying the taxes beginning with the date of sale. You can usually find
this information on the settlement statement you received at closing.
If you (the seller) use an accrual method and have not elected to ratably accrue real estate taxes, you are considered
to have accrued your part of the tax on the date you sell the property.
Alberto Verde, a calendar year accrual method taxpayer, owns real estate in Olmo County. He has not elected to ratably accrue
property taxes. November 30 of each year is the assessment and lien date for the current real property tax year, which is
the calendar year. He sold the property on June 30, 2015. Under his accounting method he would not be able to claim a deduction
for the taxes because the sale occurred before November 30. He is treated as having accrued his part of the tax, 180/365 (January 1–June 29), on June 30, and he can deduct it for 2015.
Electing to ratably accrue.
If you use an accrual method, you can elect to accrue real estate tax related to a definite period ratably over that
Juan Sanchez is a calendar year taxpayer who uses an accrual method. His real estate taxes for the real property tax year,
July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, are $1,200. July 1 is the assessment and lien date.
If Juan elects to ratably accrue the taxes, $600 will accrue in 2015 ($1,200 × 6/12, July 1–December 31) and the balance will accrue in 2016.
You can elect to ratably accrue the taxes for each separate trade or business and for nonbusiness activities if you
account for them separately. Once you elect to ratably accrue real estate taxes, you must use that method unless you get permission
from the IRS to change. See
Making the election.
If you elect to ratably accrue the taxes for the first year in which you incur real estate taxes, attach a statement
to your income tax return for that year. The statement should show all the following items.
The trades or businesses to which the election applies and the accounting method or methods used.
The period to which the taxes relate.
The computation of the real estate tax deduction for that first year.
Generally, you must file your return by the due date (including extensions). However, if you timely filed your return
for the year without electing to ratably accrue, you can still make the election by filing an amended return within 6 months
after the due date of the return (excluding extensions). Attach the statement to the amended return and write “Filed pursuant to section 301.9100-2
” on the statement. File the amended return at the same address where you filed the original return.
If you elect to ratably accrue real estate taxes for a year after the first year in which you incur real estate taxes, or
if you want to revoke your election to ratably accrue real estate taxes, file Form 3115. For more information, including applicable
time frames for filing, see the Instructions for Form 3115.
This section discusses federal, state, local, and foreign income taxes.
Federal income taxes.
You cannot deduct federal income taxes.
State and local income taxes.
A corporation or partnership can deduct state and local income taxes imposed on the corporation or partnership as
business expenses. An individual can deduct state and local income taxes only as an itemized deduction on Schedule A (Form
However, an individual can deduct a state tax on gross income (as distinguished from net income) directly attributable
to a trade or business as a business expense.
Accrual of contested income taxes.
If you use an accrual method, and you contest a state or local income tax liability, you must accrue and deduct any
contested amount in the tax year in which the liability is finally determined.
If additional state or local income taxes for a prior year are assessed in a later year, you can deduct the taxes
in the year in which they were originally imposed (the prior year) if the tax liability is not contested. You cannot deduct
them in the year in which the liability is finally determined.
The filing of an income tax return is not considered a contest and, in the absence of an overt act of protest, you can deduct
the tax in the prior year. Also, you can deduct any additional taxes in the prior year if you do not show some affirmative
evidence of denial of the liability.
However, if you consistently deduct additional assessments in the year they are paid or finally determined (including
those for which there was no contest), you must continue to do so. You cannot take a deduction in the earlier year unless
you receive permission to change your method of accounting. For more information on accounting methods, see
When Can I Deduct an Expense
in chapter 1
Foreign income taxes.
Generally, you can take either a deduction or a credit for income taxes imposed on you by a foreign country or a U.S.
possession. However, an individual cannot take a deduction or credit for foreign income taxes paid on income that is exempt
from U.S. tax under the foreign earned income exclusion or the foreign housing exclusion. For information on these exclusions,
see Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad. For information on the foreign tax credit, see
Publication 514, Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals.
If you have employees, you must withhold various taxes from your employees' pay. Most employers must withhold their employees'
share of social security, Medicare taxes, and Additional Medicare Tax (if applicable) along with state and federal income
taxes. You may also need to pay certain employment taxes from your own funds. These include your share of social security
and Medicare taxes as an employer, along with unemployment taxes.
Your deduction for wages paid is not reduced by the social security and Medicare taxes, Additional Medicare Tax, and income
taxes you withhold from your employees. You can deduct the employment taxes you must pay from your own funds as taxes.
You pay your employee $18,000 a year. However, after you withhold various taxes, your employee receives $14,500. You also
pay an additional $1,500 in employment taxes. You should deduct the full $18,000 as wages. You can deduct the $1,500 you pay
from your own funds as taxes.
Additional Medicare Tax.
You must withhold a 0.9% Additional Medicare Tax from wages you pay to an employee in excess of $200,000 in a calendar
year. The Additional Medicare Tax is only imposed on the employee. There is no employer share of Additional Medicare Tax.
For more information on the Additional Medicare Tax see Form 8959, Additional Medicare Tax, and its instructions.
For more information on employment taxes, see Publication 15 (Circular E).
Unemployment fund taxes.
As an employer, you may have to make payments to a state unemployment compensation fund or to a state disability benefit
fund. Deduct these payments as taxes.
You can deduct part of your self-employment tax as a business expense in figuring your adjusted gross income. This
deduction only affects your income tax. It does not affect your net earnings from self-employment or your self-employment
To deduct the tax, enter on Form 1040, line 27, the amount shown on the Deduction for one-half of self-employment
tax line of Schedule SE (Form 1040).
For more information on self-employment tax, see Publication 334.
Additional Medicare Tax.
You may be required to pay Additional Medicare Tax on self-employment income. See Form 8959 and the Instructions for Form
8959 for more information on the Additional Medicare Tax.
The following are other taxes you can deduct if you incur them in the ordinary course of your trade or business.
Generally, you can deduct as a business expense all excise taxes that are ordinary and necessary expenses of carrying
on your trade or business. However, see
For more information on excise taxes, see Publication 510.
You can deduct corporate franchise taxes as a business expense.
Generally, taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel, and other motor fuels that you use in your business are included as part
of the cost of the fuel. Do not deduct these taxes as a separate item.
You may be entitled to a credit or refund for federal excise tax you paid on fuels used for certain purposes. For
more information, see Publication 510.
You can deduct as a business expense an occupational tax charged at a flat rate by a locality for the privilege of
working or conducting a business in the locality.
Personal property tax.
You can deduct any tax imposed by a state or local government on personal property used in your trade or business.
Any sales tax you pay on a service for your business, or on the purchase or use of property in your business is treated
as part of the cost of the service or property. If the service or the cost or use of the property is a deductible business
expense, you can deduct the tax as part of that service or cost. If the property is merchandise bought for resale, the sales
tax is part of the cost of the merchandise. If the property is depreciable, add the sales tax to the basis for depreciation.
For more information on basis, see Publication 551.
Do not deduct state and local sales taxes imposed on the buyer that you must collect and pay over to the state or local government.
Also, do not include these taxes in gross receipts or sales.