TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Thomas: The Standard Business Deduction

Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina), The Standard Business Deduction:

This paper describes a proposal for a standard business deduction ("SBD") for small businesses. The SBD would work like the regular standard deduction. The latter is a fixed amount that is claimed in lieu of claiming itemized deductions below the line. The SBD would be a fixed amount that is claimed above the line in lieu of deducting actual business expenses. Taxpayers claiming the SBD would report their gross business earnings, subtract the SBD, and arrive at net business income. No Schedule C would be necessary. Like the regular standard deduction, claiming the SBD would be optional for the taxpayer. If a taxpayer’s actual business expenses exceeded the SBD, he could instead opt to claim those expenses.

An SBD would greatly simplify the tax system for small business owners. Taxpayers who chose to claim it could be relieved of the burden of tracking business expenses during the year and could self-prepare their tax returns without the need for expensive tax preparation assistance. Not only would the SBD reduce socially wasteful taxpayer compliance costs, but it would also reduce IRS enforcement costs. Such simplification should be attractive to policymakers on both sides of the aisle and would benefit the government and taxpayers alike.

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