Modern businesses must have a good website to remain competitive, even if they aren’t an eCommerce business. Developing and maintaining a site though isn’t always cheap and easy. As these costs can mount quickly, business owners often want to know how to treat those costs when it comes to taxes. This post gives you a starting point for proper categorization of website development costs.
The hardest part to this process is the fact that the IRS has not given any official guidance on website development and maintenance costs. So you need to use existing guidance as best you can.
Servers, Computers, and Software
Any hardware (computer, server, etc.) that you buy is treated as normal depreciable equipment. Once these are up and running you can deduct the entire cost associated with them in the first year.
In following years you are able to include any ongoing hardware related costs in Section 179 deductions, subject to the rules and limitations of that deduction category.
If you purchase software off-the-shelf it can be treated similarly to hardware purchases. If you license software however (like subscribing to a service) then those costs are considered ordinary and necessary business expenses.
Internal Development Costs
If you are using your website primarily for advertising purposes and are developing it internally you can deduct those development costs as ordinary and necessary business expenses. Also, you could potentially consider them to be research and development costs and deduct them that way. It is safer to consider them ordinary business expense though.
If you have hired a third party to build and manage your website you would count those expenses as ordinary and necessary business expenses.
Setting up and maintaining a great website is an essential part of a modern business. With a little forethought you can even use it to your tax advantage. If you have further questions about tax treatments for website costs please contact a business tax professional.