Small business tax deductions and credits not to miss this year.

Dec 07 2018 | Contributing writer Aaron Berson, manager and cloud accounting ecosystem curator, EisnerAmper

All business owners pay taxes. But a bit of research by you and your accounting professionals can help you avoid paying more in tax than you absolutely have to.
Please note: The information in this article does not constitute tax advice and should not be relied on as such. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, tax, financial, and legal advice before engaging in any transaction.

Many people new to preparing business taxes miss out on a reduced tax bill because they don’t know about certain deductions or credits. Aaron Berson, manager and cloud accounting ecosystem curator at accounting firm EisnerAmper, gives some tips on tax deductions and credits to consider when discussing your taxes with your accounting advisors.
Home office deduction. If you work solely (or mostly) from home, Berson notes that you may be able to deduct costs related to the office space, such as rent or mortgage payments, insurance, utilities, and internet service. Your tax and accounting advisors can help you figure out how much might be deductible. In general, the amounts of the deductions are based on the square footage of the office compared to the rest of your home. For example, a 100-square-foot office in a 1,000-square-foot home may entitle you to deduct 10% of the indirect costs (like general home repairs); and you may be able to deduct 100% of direct costs.
Office furniture, computers, and decor. You may be able to deduct the cost of outfitting your home office with desks, chairs, computers, and shelves, but these deductions are treated differently than are expenses like rent and utilities. Furniture and decor are fixed assets, which you normally have to depreciate over several years – that is, you can only write off a portion of the item’s value each year. However, you may have the option to deduct the total cost of the item during the first year that you use it – this is called a “Section 179” election. Your accountant can help you complete the appropriate forms.
Often overlooked, Berson says, is that you may be able to deduct the cost of decorative items used solely for your office, like carpets and paintings – but only if they are low in value. (So don’t splurge on a vintage Persian carpet thinking you’ll be able to offload some of the cost to the IRS.)
Website costs. Many of the expenses associated with running your business website may be deductible – such as website hosting fees, web design services, logo design expenses, ecommerce payment processing fees, and stock photo rental costs.
Professional services fees. The costs of business-related legal and financial counsel may be deductible. But, Berson adds, don’t forget about other professional services you may have paid for, such as business coaching, weekend or seasonal employee retreats, and employee wellness sessions. Good advice from Berson: If some of the professional services are for personal use and not business, it’s best to have the provider create separate invoices for business and personal services.
Memberships and education. Not only may you be able to deduct costs for participating in professional organizations and networking events, you may be able to deduct the costs you cover for any employees’ participation. The same goes for business-related classes and continuing education you may fund.
Charitable donations. Just as you can deduct personal donations to your favorite organizations, your business may be able to deduct donations made in its name. The ability to deduct donations varies depending on the type of business you have – a sole proprietorship, an LLC, or a corporation.
Business funding. Don’t forget about the costs associated with keeping your business financially healthy. Most people know they can deduct accounting fees, but Berson explains that your business may be able to also deduct the interest on business loans, as well as legal fees associated with preparing loan contracts.
Marketing and advertising. This category also has many smaller costs that are easy to miss when deduction hunting. For instance, you may be able to deduct the cost of social media ads, as well as the cost of promotional materials for a trade show booth. You also may be able to deduct the cost of products you hand out to attendees at events, or sponsorship costs for conferences and trade shows.
Think about tax credits, not just deductions. Tax credits are more valuable to a small business than are deductions. Deductions lower your taxable income amount, while credits are direct dollar-for-dollar reductions of your tax bill. For example, if you’re investing in research and development for your business, you may be able to receive tax credits (as well as deductions). You also may be able to receive work opportunity tax credit (WOTC) for hiring military veterans and other people who have barriers to employment, such as formerly incarcerated people. And you may be able to get tax credits for buying alternative fuel vehicles, like electric cars.
Tax credits can apply to both state and federal taxes and vary widely in terms of amounts and categories. Ask your accountants to help you take advantage of tax credits – they can talk you through which ones may apply.
Think of the search for commonly overlooked tax deductions and credits as being a kind of treasure hunt. The more you find, the more money goes into your business.
Aaron Berson is a manager in EisnerAmper’s Private Business Services group. He serves a diverse client base from startups to mid-sized companies. His expertise includes financial statement preparation, tax preparation, and accounting system implementation and training as well as app ecosystem curation and education. 

This article is a general summary of certain U.S. Federal income tax laws and regulations relating to small businesses and is provided for informational purposes only. Neither PayPal nor EisnerAmper LLP represent or warrant that the guidance given in this article is complete, appropriate for any particular business purpose or use, or an accurate description of the laws that may apply to any particular taxpayer.

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Frequently asked questions.

You can buy a range of accessories that work with the PayPal Zettle app from the Zettle shop. We offer printers, cash drawers, barcode scanners, card reader stands, iPad stands and more. 

Get hardware for your business

You have the right to cancel your hardware purchase, without providing any reason, within 30 days from the day the card reader is delivered to you. To return your card reader, please contact customer service


  • It’s up to you to pay any cost of the return shipping. 
  • You’re responsible for the product until PayPal Zettle receives it. We recommend shipping options that include tracking.
  • The hardware should be returned unused, in its original packaging with any accessories.
  • Once we’ve received your returned items, the refunded money is returned to the card used for the original purchase within 30 days.
  • It’s not possible to return and receive a refund for any Apple products purchased from us.

How do I receive a Sales Tax exemption on my order?

PayPal will refund sales tax on purchases to eligible Sales Tax exempt organizations with a properly completed exemption certificate or other acceptable proof of exempt status in the state where the items will be shipped.

Once you have completed your device purchase, please forward the confirmation email and a valid Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificate to Please ensure the name of the purchaser matches the Certificate and all applicable fields are completed. Once your organization's Sales and Use Tax exemption has been verified, PayPal will refund all applicable taxes to your organization’s PayPal account. After approval, future orders will not be charged sales tax when the order is settled (it may appear on order confirmations), provided valid proof of exemption is on file for the state(s) where the items will be shipped. 

You'll be notified via email once your tax exempt request has been approved. It may take up to 3-5 business days.


All of the items available at the store have a one-year warranty, except the printers, which have a four-year warranty.

Star Micronics

Star Micronics printers come with a four-year warranty and with a one-year warranty on all other products such as their cash drawer. Get support here.

Socket Mobile

Socket Mobile provides us with a small and easy-to-use Bluetooth barcode scanner. It comes with a one-year warranty. Get support here.

The product library is where you can add custom images, update prices, add taxes, and create discounts.  

Once you’ve set up your library and started selling, you can measure the health of your business through reports that track valuable data such as top-selling products and sales stats. 

You can set up your product library directly in the PayPal Zettle app or by logging in to your PayPal Zettle account, where you can complete more advanced tasks like importing from spreadsheets and bulk updating products and variants.

Your product library online

Log in to your PayPal Zettle account and you’ll find all of your products under the Products tab. From here you can add a new product, import, or export to and from spreadsheets and edit existing products.

Sorting columns

By clicking on the column name, you can change the default sorting of the list. By default, all products are sorted alphabetically by product name. To view products in the opposite order (example, from z to a), click the header. By clicking again, you’ll go back to the default.  

Clicking on the columns to change the order of your products doesn’t change the way your products are displayed in the PayPal Zettle app. 

Quick-edit mode

By moving your mouse over a product, a pen and trash can icon appear at the end of the row. To edit the product information, click the pen icon, edit directly in the fields, and click on checkmark or press enter to save. 

To edit multiple products, click the pen icon for each row and tab through the fields. This is useful if prices need updating on multiple products.  

To delete a product, click the trash can icon.

Bulk assign and bulk delete

Bulk assign: Assign categories to products in your list by selecting a few products, press the action menu and choose add category. This will trigger a pop-up in which you can either assign from an existing category or add a new one.  

Bulk delete: By selecting multiple products, you can delete them all at once by clicking the red trash can icon. This action cannot be undone and the products are permanently deleted.  

The product library in the PayPal Zettle app

In the PayPal Zettle app, you’ll find all your products under the Sell tab. From here, you can organize your products to ring up sales quickly, add new products, and edit existing ones.

List or grid view?

The product library can be displayed in a few different ways. You can either view the library as a grid (if you’re using an iPad, you can change the size of your grid by using the icon above it) or you can swipe to the left and view your library as a list with a search bar above it. 

Organizing your products in folders

You can speed up sales by grouping products together, this should help you to find them easier in the app. This can be done in the iOS app by dragging products over each other, and in the Android app by visiting the product detail page. 

Adding products

In the PayPal Zettle app

Go to Sell and begin by clicking the Edit button, followed by the + sign to the right. Choose whether you’d like to add a “Product” or “Discount.” When you choose “Product," enter the name, price, category, variants (if needed), and a photo. 

Adding products in bulk

If you want to add many products (for example if you receive a large number of products from one supplier, or if you want to import products from another platform), you can bulk add them into your product library online by uploading an Excel file with the details. You can add up to 2,000 products at a time and repeat the process as you add more products. 

When importing products in bulk, you can also import inventory values.
  • Setting prices: When you create a new product in the library, you can choose to either set a fixed price or a price based on a custom unit like pounds or hours. 
  • Price per unit: Set a fixed price or price per unit for each of your products/services. You can also leave the price field empty and manually enter the amount each time you add it to a shopping cart.
  • Custom unit: You can set your own price based on a custom unit such as pounds, hours, or any other unit you’d like. Enter the unit of the product (for example, pounds) and the price per unit. When you add a product to a shopping cart, enter the number of pounds sold and the price will be calculated automatically.

Setting up categories

When you create a new product or when you’re editing an existing product, you can decide which category you want to place it in.  Adding products to a specific category is useful because you can then filter your sales reports to show how different categories sold by week, month, or year or season. 

Currently, categories aren’t visible in the PayPal Zettle app and can only be added and viewed online.

Adding and assigning categories

Whether you’re creating a new product or editing an existing one, categories can be assigned in two ways:  
  • In bulk - in the product list, you can choose a group of products that you’d like to assign the same category. For example, if you have different ceramic pots, you can add them to the “ceramics” category so that you can compare them with your “porcelain” pieces at the end of the month.
  • Single - each product has a detail page. Here you can add a category to each specific product by typing in the “Category” field and clicking add new.

You can always choose and assign from previously created categories too. 

Important to keep in mind while categorizing products

Think about how you’d like to organize your products into categories beforehand. You can’t remove a category completely, but you can always create new ones.  New categories won’t show up in your reports until you’ve made a few sales.

To remove a category: Click the x and remember to save. This action will leave the product uncategorized – meaning it will show up without a category in your reports. 

Adding variants

You can add multiple variants to a product that comes in more than one option, such as size, color, and style. You can add up to 3 options per product. Each combination of options makes a variant. A product can have up to 100 variants in total. 

For example, you’re selling a T-shirt that comes in two options: size and color. The size option has 3 values: small, medium, large. The color values are: black and white. So, a variant example for this product is T-shirt, small, black. 

In the PayPal Zettle app:
  1. From the library, tap Edit and the + button in the right-hand corner.  
  2. Add a product name. If you fill in price and/or cost price, these values are automatically applied to all variants. You don’t need to fill in the barcode, in stock or SKU fields, as these values are added per variant. 
  3. Scroll to the section labeled "Variants" and tap Add variants.
  4. Tap Add option to add your first option.
  5. Now you can add values for your option. Tap Done on the keyboard or tap + to add the option value. Repeat this step until you’ve added all values. Tap Save
  6. Repeat step 4 and 5 until you’ve added all options to your product.  
  7. Tap Save. You’ll now see all product variants in the list.  
  8. Tap on a variant to edit values such as barcode, in stock and SKU. 

In your PayPal Zettle account:
  1. In the Variant section of the product page, click Add option
  2. Enter a name for the first option (the order in which you set up the options will be how they’re displayed in your POS app and online store).
  3. Fill in option values. Separate the values with a comma or by pressing enter. 
  4. To add more options, click Add option. You can add up to 3 options per product. 
  5. A list with your variants appears below and you can fill in attributes such as price, barcode, stock, and SKU. If you’ve entered these attributes on product details, they’ll be pre-filled on the variant level. 
If you can't see all the fields available, click the 3 vertical dots in the right corner of the table and choose "show all fields."

For products that don’t have any variants, pricing, stock, and SKU are shown on product details. Once you have added variants, these attributes are editable on variant-level, instead of product-level. 

Bulk-editing variants

If you want to edit many variants at once (for example, changing the price of many variants in one go), follow these steps: 

In the PayPal Zettle app:
  1. From the library, tap Edit and tap the product you want to edit.  
  2. In the variant section, tap Edit
  3. Choose the variants you want to make changes to. You can also choose multiple variants at once by tapping the filter button.  
  4. Apply the change and tap Save.

In your PayPal Zettle account:

In the ‘Variant details’ section of the product page, choose the checkboxes of the variants you want to edit. You can also choose multiple variants at once from the top-left checkbox dropdown. 
  1. Choose the action that you want to apply in the “Actions” dropdown. 
  2. Apply the change and click Save.

Adding products to the cart and using discounts can only be done in the PayPal Zettle app.

Adding to cart

Tap on a product in your library to add it to the cart. Once a product has been added to the cart, you can tap on the product to:
  • Increase the amount of that product.
  • Add a comment about that specific product, which can also be done when selling a product with a custom amount price.
  • Add a discount to that the product. 

Adding a discount: from your product library, click Edit and + in the right-hand corner. Choose “Discount," enter either a percentage or a fixed amount, and give it a name.

Using a discount

You can apply a discount to individual items or all items in the shopping cart. Go into the cart, tap the Discount button, and choose either a percentage or fixed amount. You can also apply a discount to specific products in the cart by tapping on the item and editing the “Discount” field.

Importing and exporting your products

If you’re editing or adding a lot of new product information to PayPal Zettle, we recommend importing the changes by uploading an Excel or CSV file. This can be especially useful when transferring information from another system, or when setting up your store. 

To get started, log in to your PayPal Zettle account online and go to Products.

If you have an empty product library:
  • Download the template file by clicking Import and finding the link to Download the template file.  
  • Once you’ve downloaded the template file, open it in the preferred software (Excel or Numbers, for example).
  • The template file contains a number of columns with headers such as Name, Price & Stock amount.  

Important - if you're importing your products and intend to collect tax:

If you want to collect tax on your products, we recommend setting up your most common tax rates before starting the import. If you have an empty product library and haven’t added any tax rates yet, the template file won’t include tax rates – meaning that the import will happen without taxes enabled on the products. You’ll then have to add tax rates manually to each product later.

We recommend setting up taxes first and then downloading the template file. 

Adding information to the Excel file:

Once you’ve set up your taxes (if necessary) and downloaded the template file, it’s time to start adding your product information. The template file makes it possible for our system to understand the information you’ve added and populate your product library accordingly.  

Important note: Don’t edit the headers or the structure of the file; only add information below in the relevant rows. There’s an identifier in the sheet (ID); please don’t edit or delete this information either, as this makes it possible for us to import the data you’re adding. 

The template file contains a number of columns; below each column are empty cells. In these cells, you can add the relevant information. If there are columns that you don’t wish to fill out, leave them empty. The only column that is mandatory for an import is the name of the product.  

Columns explained:
  1. Name: Your product’s name. Can contain both letters and numbers. (Required) 
  1. Custom unit: If your product is sold as individual items, you can leave this column blank. Otherwise, you can enter units like g (grams), m (meters), or hrs (hours) here. Unit names can’t be longer than 4 alphabetical characters. 
  1. Taxes: The following columns about taxes reflect the rates that you’ve added in your library, so these will differ depending on the taxes you’ve created in your account. The accepted values are YES, for Yes this tax is applied or NO for No this tax doesn’t apply. If your product is Exempt, write YES under the Exempt Column and make sure that the other tax cells are empty for that product.  
  1. If you have products with different variants, you can add those directly in the file and import them by filling in the type of variant under Option 1 Name, and then fill in the values for that Option 1 under Option 1 Value. The combination of options and values will result in a list of variants. 
a. Example: If you sell a T-shirt that comes in a few different sizes & colors, you fill in the following information:  
  • Option 1 Name: Size 
  • Option 1 Value: Small, Medium, Large (each on a different row) 
  • Option 2 Name: Color 
  • Option 2 Value: Blue, Purple, Green (each on a different row)  
b. You can add up to 3 options per product and have 100 variants per product in total. 
  1. Price: The price of the item. Leave it blank if you want to enter the price at checkout or enter a numerical value. 
  1. Cost price: The price you bought the item for, enter a numerical value. 
  1. Barcode: If you have products with barcodes, you can add the barcode number to this column. Then you can scan the product in the PayPal Zettle app, enter numerical or alphabetical values.  
  1. SKU: The SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) of the variant. A SKU is the unique ID you assign to an item for inventory tracking purposes. Numerical or alphabetical values.  
  1. In stock: The stock quantity of the item. If you fill in an amount, the inventory tracking for this item is automatically turned on. After you have imported the Excel file, you’ll see the new stock balance in the Inventory tab. Enter a numerical value. 
  1. Variant ID: When adding new variants, leave this column blank. The ID is automatically generated and it is our way of knowing if a variant is already in your product library.  
  1. Product ID: When adding new products, leave this column blank. The ID is automatically generated and it’s our way of knowing if a product is already in your product library. 

Important note: Don’t remove, rename, or reorder the columns or the headers, as this will make the import fail. Don’t change the Product ID or Variant ID either as we use these details to update existing products in your library, if you have them. 

If you sell products online:

The downloaded Excel file will look different if you sell online. This is because, with online sales, more product information is available to you in PayPal Zettle so your file will include all the above fields, as well as these additional ones:  
  1. Visible online: Write YES if you want to sell the product online and in your store. Write NO if you only want to sell the product from your point-of-sale app. 
  2. SEO title: Add a descriptive title for your product. The title will display as a link in search engine results. We recommend a title that is 70 characters or less. 
  3. SEO description: This meta description is the short snippet of text that shows up under the title in search engine results. Make sure that each product has a unique and compelling description to maximize clicks. Max. 320 characters. 
  4. Shipping weight in grams: If you’re configuring real-time or weight-based shipping rates, the product weight is required. Otherwise, leave this blank. 
Once you’ve added the information you need, you can follow the same steps below to upload the document.

If you have an online store with any of our partners, you can seamlessly integrate your two libraries and avoid making manual updates.

Uploading the file:

Once you’ve added all the information to the file, save it in either.xsxl (excel) or .csv (universal) and drag it into the upload area of the modal. You can also click Upload from computer to choose a file from your hard drive. 

Important note: We can only accept 2,000 rows in the file, per upload. If you exceed this number of rows in your file, please upload your library in batches of 2,000.  

Review your upload:

Once the loading finishes, you’ll get a preview of the changes we’ve detected in the file. This step may include errors that need correction. If that is the case, follow these steps:  
  1. Click Upload another file; this will take you back to the previous step.
  2. Open your file on your computer and correct the mistakes in the sheet.
  3. Make sure you’re using the correct values for the column – for example Price can only contain numbers (numerical values).  
  4. Save the file.
  5. Upload again by either dragging and dropping the file in the modal, or clicking Upload from computer
If there are no errors in the file or on the server, the file is uploaded and instead you’ll get a preview of the changes in your file.  

If everything looks good, click Import. This may take a few minutes.

Exporting and editing existing products:

If you have created Products previously, the easiest way to make updates in bulk is to Export your library to a .xlsx file following these steps:  
  1. Go to Products.
  2. Click Export; the file should automatically start to download in your browser.  
  3. Open the file in your desired software (excel or numbers for example).
  4. Make the appropriate changes following the guidance above under the Section “Adding information to the Excel file."
  5. Save the file to your computer.
  6. Go back to your PayPal Zettle account and click Import.
  7. Drag the file to the upload area or click Upload from computer and click Upload
  8. Review the changes or correct any mistakes if needed (follow the instructions under the section “Review your upload”).
  9. Click Import if there are no mistakes to fix. 
Important note: Don’t remove, rename, or reorder the columns or the headers, as this will make the import fail. Don’t change the Product ID or Variant ID either as we use these details to update existing products in your library, if you have them. 

Good to know
  • Tax rates are applied to products and must be the same for variants.
  • Supported formats are .xls, .xlsx and .csv.
  • Folders can’t be edited using this sheet.
  • Don’t add more than one tab in the file.

If you are asked to provide your tax identification number (TIN), such as a Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN), to your existing account(s), we will attempt to verify the information with the IRS. If your TIN fails verification, you will need to fill out an equivalent tax Form W-9.   

If the discrepancy persist, you may receive an IRS B-Notice later in the year to help you correct the mismatch.  

Some common reasons why a TIN may fail verification include:

  • Invalid Tax Identification Number (EIN, SSN, iTIN)
  • The name that appears on your PayPal account does not match with the IRS has on file.  
  • The business name registered onto your PayPal account is different than the legal business name.

Tip: Minor typographical errors with the name (missing period or capitalization) in a business name would not be why there is an IRS mismatch
How do I change the name on my PayPal account?

PayPal recommends you seek the advice of a professional tax advisor for any questions regarding your Crypto transactions for Gains/Loss, cost basis method and additional tax filing requirements.  

Total Gain
PayPal is now reflecting your crypto balance position with a real-time unrealized gains/loss based on current market conditions. This is shown in both dollars and percentage within the Crypto section of your PayPal account.
This amount is calculated by the difference between the price for which you purchased your crypto (your cost basis) and the current average selling price including the current exchange rate and spread.
Cost Basis – Highest In, First Out (HIFO)
If you have sold any crypto with PayPal, we’ll use the Highest In/First Out (HIFO)* method to identify the disposition of assets that have a higher cost basis and could potentially result in a smaller capital gain or larger capital loss. The information provided by PayPal is not intended to be and should not be construed as tax advice. You should consult your tax advisor regarding which cost basis method is appropriate for your specific situation.
PayPal Documentation
To assist taxpayers with determining their cost basis, PayPal will be providing several documents:
  • Transaction Statement: This is a .CSV file that will list the Cryptocurrency transactions along with date acquired or sold, quantity of transaction, fee per transaction, total value, and transaction ID.
  • Gains and Losses Statement: This report is a .CSV file that uses Highest In/First Out (HIFO)* method of cost basis, which is a form of specific share identification method as described in IRS Publication 550. This report is in line with the data fields required on the IRS Form 8949 (Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets). PayPal uses the HIFO method to identify the disposition of assets that have a higher cost basis and could potentially result in a smaller capital gain or larger capital loss. The information provided by PayPal is not intended to be and should not be construed as tax advice. You should consult your tax advisor regarding which cost basis method is appropriate for your specific situation.
*You won't receive these documents if you don't have any eligible sales.
*Highest cost does not consider the length of time you held your crypto assets. If your position is made up of several tax lots and they consist of both long- and short-term holdings, highest cost may deliver the lowest gains, but not the lowest tax rate, due to the difference between short- and long-term capital gains tax rates.

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