Projecting income can allow businesses to use timing to their tax advantage

By projecting your business’s income for this year and next you can determine how to time income and deductions to your advantage.

Typically, it’s better to defer tax. You can do so by:

  • Deferring income to next year. If your business uses the cash method of accounting, you can defer billing for your products or services. Or, if you use the accrual method, you can delay shipping products or delivering services. But don’t let tax considerations get in the way of making sound business decisions.
  • Accelerating deductible expenses into the current year. If you’re a cash-basis taxpayer, you may make a state estimated tax payment before Dec. 31, so you can deduct it this year rather than next. But consider the alternative minimum tax (AMT) consequences first. Both cash- and accrual-basis taxpayers can charge expenses on a credit card and deduct them in the year charged, regardless of when the credit card bill is paid.

In 2012, taking the opposite approach might be better. If it’s likely you’ll be in a higher tax bracket next year, accelerating income and deferring deductible expenses may save you more tax. And, because individual income tax rates are scheduled to go up in 2013, if your business structure is a flow-through entity, you may face higher rates even if your tax bracket remains the same.

Congress may, however, extend current tax rates for some or all taxpayers. Keep a close eye on Washington as year end approaches so you can adjust your timing strategy as needed if tax law changes do occur.