Mom always said, “There are only two things in life that you can’t avoid, taxes and death.” Both personal and business taxes will come and they often make small business owners, like photographers, wince. But they don’t have to be painful! Today we are going to explore the world of tax deductions. Maybe you are missing valuable tax deductions for photography that could be saving you money!
If you are like most photographers, you probably started your photography business because of your passion for the art. It’s something you love doing as a hobby and you grew the business into a part-time or full time gig. While we could talk about the art of photography all day, it is the business of photography that needs addressing if you truly want to make a profit at this art you love.
As we enter the fall season, there is still time to ensure that you are accurately accounting for and logging all of those expenses which can turn into valuable deductions come tax time. So here we go!
Before we start with our list of common tax deductions for your photography business, we highly recommend that you get organized. Keeping good records will save you mountains of time and will be essential if you ever face an audit. Keep good records and start by bookmarking this page for future reference!
Dues and Subscriptions
If you belong to any professional groups, clubs, or organizations for which you pay dues, those dues or membership expenses are tax deductible. Membership dues for organizations like the PPA are generally deductible. Also are your expenses for any subscriptions to photography magazines, newsletters, or other industry publications.
Expenses accrued for continuing education purposes such as seminars, classes, even online workshops and training are deductible if they are in keeping with your style of photography business. This can also include any books and necessary supplies for completing the program. Just be certain that these expenses can be proven to be for professional and not personal gain.
The cost of equipment that will last more than one year needs to be shown as a depreciated expense on your taxes. Equipment that may fall into this category can be your cameras, camera bags, props, and lighting or darkroom equipment. Computers, printers, digital devices and even smart phones can also be depreciated if they are solely used for your photography business.
Some equipment repairs are deductible if they were essential costs for operating your photography business.
Property insurance that covers your photographic equipment or studio space is a deduction, as is a portion of your homeowner’s insurance if you operate your business out of your home.
As a self-employed professional you can also deduct your entire health insurance premium from your taxes.
Office and Studio Space
Your office, studio, and gallery can all be tax deductions if they are solely used for your photography business. This is true even if you use a shared location; simply deduct only the amount you personally pay. If your business space is totally outside of your home, all rent and utilities are deductible business expenses.
Don’t forget, you can also deduct things that you use in your studio space such as any office supplies, water delivery services and other services you may use in your studio.
Phone and Internet
If you operate your photography business out of your home and you have a separate phone line strictly for your business, the cost of that phone line and any long-distance charges are deductible expenses. Don’t forget to include your internet bill as well since you probably use that in your business too.
Marketing and Promotions
You most likely have a website for promoting your business. The expenses for operating that website such as hosting services, software, or contracted web designers are deductible as long as they are separated from personal use. Be sure to keep accurate records to support these deducted charges.
Any sort of activity that involves marketing or advertising your business can also be deducted. This might include ad space you buy, fees to print marketing materials, your business cards, flyers, brochures, pricing sheets, and even your studio sample prints and albums you may have in your photography studio.
Photography Gear and Supplies
All gear and supplies that don’t require depreciation can be included in calculating your tax deductions. This includes any cameras, flash or lighting equipment, film and processing, memory cards and storage devices, and props. This even includes the cost of mail and shipping preparation materials. Keep all actual receipts not simply credit card or bank statements for this equipment.
Professional and Promotion Fees
All professional fees for attorney, accountant, or consulting services are deductible. Simply retain their invoices with your tax preparation paperwork. This includes any business license, permits, or copyright fees.
Staff and Assistants
Should you have any permanent or temporary persons assisting you with your business, even if they are simply hired on a contractual basis, the salary or fees you paid them is a tax deduction. In some instances, this can include their lodging and meal expenses.
Air travel, transportation, and lodging expenses can be deductions if not reimbursed by your client. Local travel expenses when related specifically to a photography assignment or educational training can be deductions. You can choose to keep receipts for all mileage, fuel, auto repairs and service, and itemize this deduction or you can simply calculate using the standard mileage rate provided by the IRS.
Keep in mind that this list is provided as a courtesy and should not replace professional legal or accounting advice. Always look upon any deduction as to how it relates to your photography business and keep it pertinent and relevant to your actions for carrying out your business. Before adding any deductions, we highly suggest that you seek the counsel of a professional accountant who can give definitive answers on the subject.