Taking a new look at travel expenses: not just for corporate executives!

When we think of travel expenses, we usually think that this is a perk only enjoyed by business executives. In light of today’s changing business environment, many small business owners and self-employed individuals should be taking a second, good look at how your travel expenses might well prove a boon to your tax return, turning a balance due into a refund! It might even be a good idea to consider starting a business which requires travel in order to gain these legitimate write-offs and put some of that cash back in your pocket, instead of Uncle Sam’s! Let’s take a look at a few sample types of business ventures which can give you profit, while retaining more of your hard earned money.

Let’s say you’re an antique buff, collecting various antiques for your own home. Why not start a business, selling to others the lovely pieces you spot all the time, but simply don’t have room in your home – or the funds to acquire them. You live in the Midwest, where antiques sell for far less than they do on the East or West coasts. Go shopping! Auctions, estate sales and even garage sales in your own area can turn up plenty of beautiful pieces at bargain prices. When you’ve collected a truckload of pieces, from dressers and armoires to cranberry glass, tin-punch lamps and other small collectibles, pack your truck and drive to a large metropolitan city on either coast. You can sell your goods to individuals, dealers or at auctions for a tidy profit. Your travel expenses, including the truck rental, gas, hotel and restaurant eats can all be written off.

Wandering farther afield, perhaps overseas, might appeal to you. Starting an import export business can be an exciting business, with travel expenses. Anyone who has visited a foreign country goes shopping the local markets and comes home with a few souvenirs of that culture. For the individual traveler, this is a pleasure trip and you do not enjoy the privilege of writing off any of your travel expenses. Ethnic clothing, jewelry and accessories are big now in the fashion world. Airlines are going begging for customers now, so it’s easy to find some great airfares now. As long as your trip is for business purposes, many of the costs you incur become operating expense or travel expense. The benefit to you is in both profit from your business venture as well as being able to see the sights as you shop!

Travel writers can also make use of their business to gain tax write-offs. Let’s say you’re just starting out. Make a few trips closer to home, which your budget can manage. As long as you have to travel far enough from home to require staying at a hotel and eating out, these become travel expenses. Write a few pieces for travel magazines or the area’s Sunday paper. You get a tax break and sell some work. When you’ve published several pieces, you may find editors contacting you, with some upfront money that allows you to visit that hot island getaway.

If you need to pay for books, seminars, workshops or college classes that are necessary to expand your business knowledge, these costs too may be written off your taxes.

So, if you enjoy travel, look at your passion in this new way. How can you turn your pleasure into a business? There’s surely a way to create a business that offsets your costs with legitimate travel expenses.