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Simplifying the QBI Deduction: What Business Owners Need to Know

Navigating the complexities of tax deductions can be a daunting task for any business owner, particularly when it comes to the Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction. Introduced as a key component of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018, the QBI deduction offers substantial tax savings for eligible businesses through 2025. However, understanding the nuances, especially for those classified under Specified Service Trades or Businesses (SSTBs), requires careful consideration and expert guidance. In this article, we aim to demystify the QBI deduction, providing clear insights into its benefits, limitations, and the critical factors business owners need to consider. For personalized advice tailored to your specific situation, contact Patten and Company, LLC, your trusted partner in financial and tax services.

Understanding the QBI Deduction

What is the QBI Deduction?

The Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction is a provision under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 designed to provide tax relief to small business owners. It allows eligible taxpayers to deduct up to 20% of their qualified business income from their taxable income. This deduction is available to owners of pass-through entities, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, and some trusts and estates. Essentially, the QBI deduction can significantly reduce the amount of income tax that a business owner owes, thereby increasing overall profitability. However, it’s important to note that not all income qualifies, and the deduction may be subject to various limitations and phase-outs based on the taxpayer’s income level and the type of business. Understanding these intricacies is crucial for maximizing the benefits of the QBI deduction.

Specified Service Trade or Business (SSTB)

A Specified Service Trade or Business (SSTB) refers to certain types of businesses that provide services in specific fields where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more employees or owners. These fields include healthcare, law, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, and brokerage services. Additionally, businesses involved in investing and investment management, trading, or dealing in securities, partnership interests, or commodities are also classified as SSTBs. Importantly, SSTBs face stricter limitations on the QBI deduction compared to other businesses. For instance, if a taxpayer’s income exceeds certain thresholds, the ability to claim the QBI deduction for SSTBs may be significantly reduced or entirely phased out. Therefore, it is essential for owners of SSTBs to understand these limitations and plan accordingly to optimize their tax benefits.

Deduction Basics Explained

The QBI deduction allows eligible business owners to deduct up to 20% of their qualified business income from their taxable income. To determine the deduction, you first need to calculate your qualified business income, which generally includes the net income from your trade or business, excluding items like capital gains, interest income, and certain wages. The deduction is subject to several limitations. For instance, if your taxable income exceeds certain thresholds, the deduction may be limited based on W-2 wages paid by the business and the unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition (UBIA) of qualified property. For 2023, the taxable income thresholds are $182,100 for single filers and $364,200 for joint filers. If your income exceeds these limits, additional calculations and restrictions may apply. Understanding these basics helps ensure you can accurately determine your eligibility and maximize the deduction.

Limitations and Strategies

Income-Based Limitations

Income-based limitations play a critical role in determining the eligibility and extent of the QBI deduction. For taxpayers with taxable income above the set thresholds—$182,100 for single filers and $364,200 for joint filers in 2023—the deduction becomes subject to additional limitations. Specifically, for those exceeding these income levels, the QBI deduction is limited to the lesser of 20% of qualified business income or the greater of 50% of W-2 wages paid by the business, or 25% of W-2 wages plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition (UBIA) of qualified property. These limitations can significantly reduce the deduction for high-income earners. For Specified Service Trades or Businesses (SSTBs), the deduction phases out entirely once taxable income exceeds the threshold by $50,000 for single filers and $100,000 for joint filers. Therefore, strategic tax planning is essential to navigate these income-based limitations effectively.

Aggregating Businesses for Better Results

One effective strategy to maximize the QBI deduction is aggregating multiple businesses. Aggregation allows business owners who operate multiple related entities to combine their income, W-2 wages, and unadjusted basis of qualified property (UBIA) for the purposes of calculating the QBI deduction. This can be particularly advantageous when one business has high W-2 wages or significant UBIA, offsetting another business with lower figures, thereby enhancing the overall deduction. However, to qualify for aggregation, the businesses must meet specific criteria. They must be commonly controlled, provide similar products or services, share facilities or significant centralized business elements, or operate in coordination with one another. Properly aggregating businesses can lead to significant tax savings, but it requires careful consideration and compliance with IRS regulations. Consulting with a tax professional to navigate these complexities is essential for making the most of this strategy.

Impact on Specified Service Trades

The QBI deduction presents unique challenges for owners of Specified Service Trades or Businesses (SSTBs). These businesses, which include fields like healthcare, law, consulting, and financial services, face stringent limitations on their ability to claim the deduction. For SSTB owners, the QBI deduction phases out entirely once taxable income exceeds $232,100 for single filers and $464,200 for joint filers as of 2023. This means that high-earning professionals in these fields may not benefit from the QBI deduction at all. As a result, SSTB owners must engage in meticulous tax planning to manage their taxable income and potentially qualify for at least a partial deduction. Strategies may include income deferral, accelerating deductions, or restructuring the business to mitigate the impact of these limitations. Consulting with a seasoned tax advisor is crucial to navigating these complexities and optimizing the potential benefits of the QBI deduction for SSTBs.


Navigating the complexities of the QBI deduction is no small feat, especially for business owners dealing with the ever-changing landscape of tax legislation and IRS regulations. Given the significant tax savings at stake, maximizing your QBI deduction can be a game-changer for your business’s profitability. At Patten and Company, LLC, we specialize in helping businesses like yours understand and optimize the QBI deduction. Our team of seasoned tax professionals is committed to providing personalized advice tailored to your unique situation. Whether you operate a Specified Service Trade or Business (SSTB) or any other type of pass-through entity, we have the expertise to guide you through the intricacies of the QBI deduction. Contact us today to ensure that you are leveraging this valuable deduction to its fullest potential and securing a brighter financial future for your business.

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