What Business Does Not Qualify for QBI Deduction

The Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction, established under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017, provides a valuable tax benefit for certain business owners. However, not all businesses qualify for this deduction. In this comprehensive article, we will explore what business does not qualify for QBI deduction and explore the types of businesses that may qualify, shedding light on the limitations and exclusions associated with this tax provision.

What Business Does Not Qualify for QBI Deduction

Understanding the QBI Deduction:

The QBI deduction allows eligible business owners to deduct up to 20% of their qualified business income on their individual tax returns. Qualified business income is generally the net income earned from a qualified trade or business. The goal of the QBI deduction is to provide tax relief to small business owners, entrepreneurs, and pass-through entities.

Types of Businesses Eligible for QBI Deduction:

To appreciate which businesses may not qualify, it’s essential to first understand the types that are eligible. The QBI deduction is primarily designed for businesses structured as pass-through entities, including:

  1. Sole Proprietorships: Businesses owned and operated by a single individual.
  2. Partnerships: Entities where two or more individuals share ownership and management responsibilities.
  3. S Corporations: Corporations that elect to pass income, deductions, and credits through to their shareholders for federal tax purposes.
  4. Limited Liability Companies (LLCs): Depending on how they are taxed, LLCs may be eligible for the QBI deduction. They can choose to be treated as a sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporation, or C corporation.

Businesses That May Not Qualify for QBI Deduction:

While the QBI deduction benefits many businesses, certain types are subject to limitations or exclusions. Here are businesses that may face challenges in qualifying for the full QBI deduction:

1. Specified Service Trades or Businesses (SSTBs):

The QBI deduction has limitations for businesses classified as SSTBs. These include:

  • Health Services: Physicians, dentists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Legal Services: Lawyers, paralegals, legal consultants, and related services.
  • Accounting Services: Accountants, auditors, and related financial services.
  • Financial Services: Investment management, financial planning, and brokerage services.
  • Performing Arts: Actors, singers, musicians, and other performers.
  • Athletics: Athletes, coaches, trainers, and sports team owners.

Business owners in SSTBs may experience reduced or phased-out QBI deductions based on their taxable income.

2. Businesses Not Generating Qualified Business Income:

The QBI deduction is contingent on having qualified business income. If a business generates income from non-business-related activities, such as investments or capital gains, that income may not qualify for the deduction. Owners should carefully distinguish between income derived from the business itself and income from other sources.

3. C Corporations:

While C corporations are not eligible for the QBI deduction, they benefit from a reduced corporate tax rate introduced by the TCJA. The deduction is primarily designed to assist pass-through entities, and C corporations are subject to their tax calculation rules.

Factors Impacting QBI Deduction Eligibility:

Several factors can influence a business’s eligibility for the QBI deduction:

1. Wages and Capital Limitations:

For certain businesses, the QBI deduction may be subject to limitations based on the business’s W-2 wages and qualified property. This is particularly relevant for businesses with higher income levels. Understanding these limitations is crucial for accurate tax planning.

2. Employee vs. Independent Contractor Classification:

Businesses that misclassify workers as independent contractors instead of employees may face challenges in claiming the QBI deduction. The classification of workers can impact the calculation of qualified business income.

3. Aggregation of Businesses:

Owners with multiple businesses may be allowed to aggregate them for QBI deduction purposes. Aggregation can be beneficial, especially if one business generates losses that can offset income from another. However, there are specific rules and criteria governing the aggregation process.

Navigating QBI Deduction Challenges:

Business owners facing challenges with QBI deduction eligibility can take strategic steps to navigate these issues:

1. Seek Professional Advice:

Engage with tax professionals, accountants, or financial advisors with expertise in small business taxation. They can provide personalized guidance based on your business structure, industry, and financial situation.

2. Optimize Business Structure:

Consider the most tax-efficient business structure based on your specific circumstances. Depending on factors such as income level, industry, and growth plans, it may be beneficial to reassess the business structure to maximize tax advantages.

3. Implement Strategic Tax Planning:

Strategic tax planning involves anticipating tax implications and making informed decisions to optimize deductions. This may include timing income and expenses, taking advantage of available credits, and implementing tax-saving strategies.

4. Stay Informed About Tax Law Changes:

Tax laws and regulations can evolve, impacting eligibility for deductions. Stay informed about updates and changes to tax laws, especially those related to the QBI deduction, to make informed decisions for your business.


While the QBI deduction provides valuable tax relief for many businesses, certain types may face limitations or exclusions. Understanding the specific criteria and potential challenges associated with the QBI deduction is essential for business owners seeking to optimize their tax position. By conducting a thorough review of business activities, seeking professional advice, and staying informed about relevant tax laws, businesses can navigate the complexities of the QBI deduction landscape and make informed decisions for their financial well-being.

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