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Tax deductions for artists

If you are an artist, payments that you receive for providing trade services, outside of or in addition to your regular job, may be considered income from self-employment and reportable on Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business. You may deduct all associated expenses to your self-employment income on your Schedule C.  Any expenses you have from your W-2 job are not deductible.

For example, self-employed income would include payments received for installing overhead fans in a residence or wiring backyard lighting for a homeowner. For such arrangements, you may account for the income amounts yourself or you may receive a Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income. If you are self-employed and your net earnings are $400 or more, you must pay self-employment tax on the income you report on Schedule C. In addition, you may need to make estimated payments to cover the amount of self-employment tax or income tax associated with the income you report on Schedule C.

You may be able to reduce your taxes by deducting unreimbursed, job-related expenses. These expenses may be claimed as miscellaneous Itemized Deductions on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, or, if attributable to self employment, they may be deductible on Schedule C. You should keep receipts to substantiate these expenses. Examples of some of the items you may be able to deduct include:

  • Subscriptions to trade journals related to your work
  • Dues for trade associations or unions
  • Insurance premiums for protection against liability or wrongful acts
  • Specialized equipment or tools that are replaceable within one year
  • Safety equipment such as steel-toed shoes or boots
  • The cost and upkeep of uniforms if they are required for work and not suitable for everyday wear (for example, specialized coveralls, hard hat, work gloves, safety shoes, and goggles not suitable as street wear)
  • State or local government regulatory fees, licenses, or flat rate occupational taxes, provided these fees are not paid for initial certification or licensing

 

You may be able to deduct job hunting expenses you have while you are temporarily unemployed as long as your new job is in the same field of work as your previous job. Holding odd jobs during the period of temporary unemployment does not disqualify you from deducting the job hunting expenses. For example, a plumber working temporarily as a pipe fitter until finding another plumbing job may deduct job hunting expenses. You also may be able to deduct work-related education courses or seminars if they meet certain requirements. Education typically meeting the requirements includes refresher courses, courses on current developments and vocational courses. However, education that qualifies you for a new trade or business or that helps you to meet the minimum education requirements of your present trade or business is not deductible. For example, an electrician cannot deduct the expenses of going to general contractor school to become a contractor. Additional expenses may be deductible if you are a self-employed tradesman filing Schedule C. Examples of some items you may be able to deduct include:

  • Business bad debts
  • Car and truck expenses when getting from one work site to another
  • Employee salaries or other forms of compensation such as bonuses or commissions
  • Legal and professional fees, such as accounting or legal advice that are directly related to the operation of your business
  • Rental expense for business use property such as trailer and equipment rentals
  • Travel expenses for traveling away from your business home if you are required to be away from home for longer than an ordinary day's work - examples of deductible travel expenses include transportation by car, air, or bus, tolls and parking fees, lodging, and meals (with limitations)
  • Advertising
  • Tool and equipment repairs and maintenance
  • Supplies and incidental materials
  • Excise taxes and personal property taxes imposed on your business
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