Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Exotic Dancer and more ...

I choose questions from indies that I think will be most helpful to the most people. I stay away from questions about unique situations that won't be informative to a lot of you. The situation below, from Michelle, although unique has a number of situations that apply to a lot of indies.

I've noted the distinct points or questions in red.


Hello June!

I have a very complicated question...or so I think! I am confused about pro vs hobby and what deductions I can take for this year.

My main job for the last 15 years has been as an exotic dancer. I am an independent contractor and have always filed a schedule C. I deduct traveling expenses (when working out of town) and supplies (costumes, shoes)

I am also a fine art photojournalist who is currently working on a photo documentary project to be published as a book. I plan on traveling often this year to shoot various photo projects and complete my book. I have also purchased plenty of supplies and equipment in this tax year as well and I have a home office dedicated as my studio. Since this is a ongoing project but I have received no income from it as of yet...can I still deduct travel expenses, equipment costs, home office, etc without profit?

Also, I have third business! I attended a yoga teacher training this year and will start teaching classes out of my studio (separate from the art studio) as of April 1st in my home. I have had to pay for paint, carpet, supplies to ready the studio for classes. I have been working on the studio since January and paying the extra rent myself. I do have a registered business name and business account. I will have very little profit by April 15. So am I entitled to deduct the home studio and start-up costs for the business this year? How about the teacher training and yoga classes as an education expense?

Since I have 3 separate businesses I am afraid of an audit due to all these deductions! What is proper protocol for multiple small businesses? Should I be worried about claiming too many deductions?

I would really like to do my taxes myself to avoid extra costs due to the fact I have paid a lot out of pocket to start up the yoga teaching and for photography equipment.

Your help will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!


Michelle
Portland, OR


Here's my response to Michelle:

The goal of a hobby is not to make money. The goal may be to have fun, help others, perfect a skill. A hobby may make money. You may deduct expenses only up to the amount of hobby income.


The goal of a business is to make money. As long as making a profit is your goal you don't have to actually make money. You may also enjoy yourself, help others, or master skills or develop a nascent talent. You may deduct all legitimate business expenses regardless the amount of income.

If the business is not yet "open for business" meaning you are not yet ready for clients or customers, then you are still in the start-up stage. Expenses may be deducted when the business opens. You may not deduct education costs to learn a new skill.

You say: I will have very little profit by April 15. April 15 is the first deadline for filing a tax return. It is, however, immaterial to income or profit. Calendar year taxpayers -- that's just about all of you -- group income and expenses from January 1 through December 31.

It would be unwise, time- and money-wasting to try to do your own tax return in order to save accounting fees. You have a complex three-indie-business tax situation; you lack knowledge of basic indie tax treatment; you have not had the time, or the rigor, to review my site and blog where you could have found all the answers to your questions. Would you teach yoga without first studying it? I wouldn't .

Put your time and energy into your businesses -- yoga classes, dancing, photos -- you'll earn more money, achieve success, and have the money to pay a tax pro.

3 comments:

Jessica said...

Great post and phenomenal answer! Thanks June! I say the same thing about bookkeeping services to my prospects and clients. :)

Jessica Reagan Salzman said...

Great post and phenomenal answer! Thanks June! I say the same thing about bookkeeping services to my prospects and clients. :)

June Walker said...

Jessica,

You are most welcome!

June