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Employment

Tax deductions for media professionals

If you are a journalist or media professional, payments that you receive from someone who is not your employer (for example, payments for freelance work) may be considered income from self-employment and are 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.

If you are self-employed, you may receive Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, showing amounts you were paid. If you are self-employed and your net earnings are $400 or more, you must file a tax return and 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. Unreimbursed work-related expenses may be claimed as miscellaneous itemized deductions on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. If they are attributable to being self-employed, they may be deductible on Schedule C.

You should keep receipts to substantiate your expenses. Examples of some of the work-related items you may be able to deduct include:

  • Job-related expenses such as business cards, resumes, portfolios, Web site development, and the business-use portion of the cost of equipment and supplies (for example, recording devices used for conducting interviews such as video cameras, tape recorders, and tapes; cameras and film for photo journalists; and a computer, computer software, and related items)
  • Amounts paid to others such as pay for a personal assistant, information sources, and attorney fees
  • Travel expenses such as travel for job searches, business meetings and seminars, professional society meetings and seminars, and business assignments (for example, interviews, research, and coverage of news stories); and the costs of attending meetings and seminars
  • Educational expenses such as continuing education
  • Other expenses such as subscriptions to professional publications, union and professional dues, business licenses, and business gifts
  • Expenses associated with a qualified home office or part of your home used regularly and exclusively for your work

 

Taxpayers in some segments of the media industry, such as TV news personalities, may incur expenses to maintain an image. These expenses are frequently related to their appearance, such as expenses for clothing, make up, hair care and physical fitness, and are generally found to be personal because the inherently personal nature of the expense and the personal benefit are considered to far outweigh any potential business benefit. No deduction is allowed for expenses for clothing, general make up, hair care or physical fitness to maintain an image.

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