Top 6 Tax Deductions Most Photographers Miss

Straight from my CPA to you!

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Tax Deductions for Photographers

Let me guess… It’s tax season and you, as a photographer, aren’t quite sure what you should claim. A lot of photographers only think to claim their direct cost of products for their business when filing their annual taxes. But in reality, there’s so many fantastic opportunities to claim deductions and save on what you’ll owe in income taxes. The BEST thing you can do when it comes to educating yourself on business taxes is to find a small business CPA and sit down with them and ask them all of your questions.

And guess what?!? I started that process for you here! I sat down with my fabulous CPA and asked him what the TOP tax deductions were that photographers usually miss out on. Let’s dive in!

#1. Home Office Expenses:

Did you know that you could be claiming a portion of your home expenses as business deductions?!? This is under the tax category “home office expenses” and could save you HUNDREDS or even THOUSANDS every year!

If you are operating your business regularly & exclusively in an area of your home (a room made into an office), then the IRS will actually allow you to write off related expenses! 

What are those expenses? Here are just a few:

  • Mortgage interest if owner, rent expenses if renting
  • Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance 
  • Real estate taxes
  • Repairs & maintenance to area used for business
  • Telephone                                        
  • Utilities including, electricity, gas and internet
  • Assets used in home office- furniture, computer, printer, fax, etc.

There’s two different ways to do claim this deduction category (simplified – which I use, and the regular method) and you’ll want to talk to your CPA about which one is best for you.

#2. Professional Education

This includes everything from photography and business conferences and workshops to courses and subscription education (like the A-List Society)! Don’t forget to include any downloadable guides, video tutorials, etc to this category! In order to be considered a deduction, the education should “maintain or improve skills needed in your present work.”

#3. Automobile Expenses

If you drive your personal vehicle for your business, you can claim those specific miles for your business deductions. There are a few different ways to track these, so it’s best to ask your CPA specifically how they would like for you to submit this information.

A great way to claim mileage (if that’s how you’re going to do it) is to keep up with your miles using an app! A few great apps are Everlance, Stride, TripLog, and Hurdlr. These are just a few of the many options out there.

#4. Travel Expenses

Whenever you go out of town (from your home and business location) for your business; for a session, workshop, conference, etc, it’s considered traveling for your business. All expenses incurred can be considered tax deductions for your business! This includes:

  • taxi
  • car rental
  • uber / lyft
  • shuttle / bus
  • flight
  • train
  • hotel
  • airb&b / vrbo
  • baggage fees
  • meals
  • tips

#5. Office Supplies

Did you purchase and use printer paper, ink, and pens for your business use this year? Then guess what?!? You get to claim those items as deductions! Any supply that you need for your business office to operate, including postage and shipping costs, falls within this category.

BONUS: Another deduction category, which is different from office supplies, is called “office expenses.” These types of claims are usually for intangible expenses like software and cleaning services or high-ticket purchases like office furniture, computers, etc.

#6. Advertising & Marketing

This deduction category encompasses everything from logo or website design, business card printing, social media ads, and so much more. For those of you who have senior rep programs, you can even deduct any client monetary rewards as an advertising / marketing expense since you’re paying someone to market your brand. Don’t forget to include direct mailing campaigns, newsletter platforms, website fees, etc in this category as well.

Whew! Have you been claiming all these tax deductions or have you been leaving money on the table?!?

The best way to stay on top of all these deductions is to save all your receipts and file them in a monthly tax folder system. For example, I have a box with folders for January through December, and if I spent $100 on FB ads in November, my FB receipts go in that folder and are tucked away. Keeping up with these expenses will make sure you don’t have a massive chore to print and gather it all up come tax time.

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