I often get asked if I have a list of expenses that can be deducted for independent contractors, freelancers or those in direct sales. Well, my answer is usually to say that generally anything you you spend money on in the pursuit of building and growing your business can be written off. But for those who like lists - here is that list! Assuming they apply to your chosen business (you can’t deduct movie tickets if you have no reason to be at the movies…but if you have a blog all about movies and reviews, go for it).
Of course, you need proof of this stuff. No good saying you bought 50 magazines last year if you can’t find the receipts. With the government hemorrhaging money, they’re looking for any opportunity to keep as much of your cash as they can. In the event of an audit (aaarggghhh) you want your finances to be watertight.
On that note, here we go:
1) Industry books & periodicals, including audio books
2) Other books and periodicals used for research
3) Library book charges
4) DVDs and CDs related to your business
5) Movie or theater tickets, if related to your blogging or freelancing
6) Music and TV show downloads (if related)
7) Magazine subscriptions (if related)
8) Research sites that require a subscription
9) Further education classes
11) Business podcasts
12) Business-related websites
13) Memberships to professional clubs and affiliations
14) Internet access fees (at about $40 a month, that’s a biggie)
15) Public internet access fees (Internet café’s, airports etc)
16) Stock photo purchases for your blog or website
17) Search Engine Optimization services and fees
18) Paid site submissions
19) Website hosting fees
20) Website design and/or maintenance fees
21) Website/blog templates
22) Domain name cost(s) and renewals
23) Blog expenses (e.g. WordPress additions)
24) Film & Digital cameras
25) Web cameras
26) Handheld video recorders
27) Digital memory cards
28) Recordable CDs and DVDs
29) Zip drives
30) Photo printouts
31) Film & film processing
32) Printer ink and copier toner
33) Phone charging stations (e.g. at the airport)
34) Second phone line for your business/fax machine
35) Long distance charges related to business
36) Cost of phone/fax/scanner/copier equipment
37) Cell phone & PDA expenses (bills, equipment, accessories)
38) Personal voice recorders and memo machines
39) Business equipment rental
40) Computer equipment & peripherals
41) Computer upgrades
42) Depreciation costs of computer equipment
43) Data storage (both online and external HDDs)
44) Any business related software (not games…unless you review them)
45) Software licensing fees
46) Anti-virus and anti-spam subscriptions
47) Unpaid invoices. If you do some work for someone, be it a simple blog article or a much bigger job, and you get stiffed on the bill, you can write off your loss.
48) Fees for other bloggers and freelancers. If you get overwhelmed and pay a friend or relative to help out, any money you pay that person for their assistance is a tax deduction.
49) Tax and accounting software
50) Tax preparation fees
51) Business incorporation costs
52) Costs for Trademarks or Copyrights.
53) Business logos and graphic design fees
54) Business cards, letterhead and other stationery (even stuff you print yourself)
55) Office supplies (everything from paper to paper clips)
56) Home office expenses. You can deduct the part of your home you use exclusively for blogging or freelancing as an expense, including a portion of the rent, water, heating bills and so on.
57) Percentage of your home insurance (for your home office)
58) Online self-promotion fees (that includes banners and Adwords costs)
59) Trade show fees
60) Advertising costs (online or offline, stickers, posters, postcards etc)
61) Photography fees (e.g. headshots, pack shots etc)
62) Photocopying/faxing fees
63) Transportation costs: car mileage; airline tickets; taxis; buses; trains.
64) Highway tolls
65) Parking fees
66) Hotel costs for business trips.
67) Cleaning & laundering services when traveling for business.
68) Costs of conferences, plus all related expenses
69) Health insurance costs (if you’re self-employed)
70) Computer equipment insurance
71) Food and drink purchased on business trips
72) Client entertainment (be reasonable…not sure you’ll get away with Strip Club deductions)
73) Postage costs (Stamps.com is ideal for keeping track of postage, and the service itself is tax-deductible)
74) PayPal and Western Union fees
75) Post Office Box fees.
76) Safe Deposit Box fees.
77) Self-storage fees, especially useful if your files and records are spilling over into your garage and you need extra space.
Advice. Any professional advice you pay for that pertains to your business is a tax deduction, and that includes counseling or coaching.
78) Membership dues to labor unions
79) Charity work or donations (this one’s tricky. It’s limited to your out-of-pocket costs, not the final cost of the product. In my case, I’ve done some writing for charity, which is not applicable because you can’t deduct time spent. But any materials used during your charity work can be deducted).
80) Prizes and giveaways.
81) Business furniture. If you use it exclusively for your business.
82) Business functions. If you hold a little get-together for clients, even just one or two, then everything from the rental of the room (or golf course…know what I mean?) to food and drink can be deducted.
83) Business lunches. Meals are 50% deductible on your tax return.
84) Props. I sometimes use props for photoshoots, and the cost of those props can be deducted.
85) Job search expenses. Any money you spend trying to get work, from postage to travel, is a deductible expense.
86) Alcohol and drug abuse treatment. If the pressure turns you into a Betty Ford patient, you can deduct the expenses of treatment. Let’s hope you never have to though.
87) Any losses due to theft. Away on business, your laptop gets stolen…write it off.
88) Moving expenses related to your blogging or freelancing.
89) You can deduct 50% of your self-employment tax
90) Home improvements. Turn the basement into a home office, those expenses are deductible.
91) Clothing and accessories. If you have to buy any clothing for a particular job (maybe you needed protective clothing & headwear to write an article about a building site) then those costs are also deductible. But don’t try and write off your new Gucci watch.
92) Business checking expenses. If you have anything more that free checking, it’s a deduction.
93) Business gifts. This is cool. If your mom watched the kids while you went off to do an interview or write an article, and you then bought her flowers or choccies, well, the gift is tax deductible. Very sweet.
94) Annual fees for business credit cards.
95) Physical therapy. Writing for eight hours a day can cause all sorts of problems, including the dreaded Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. However, medical expenses are a complex beast, and usually need to be a percentage of your income.
96) Wages. Say you pay your kid $20 a month to empty your office trash can, maybe as a way to earn an allowance. Well, you can deduct that expense.
97) Your dog. No kidding, if you can prove it's a guard dog and is protecting your equipment, you can write-off the doggie expenses.
Hi! I'm Jaimie and I have a B.A. in Accounting, an MBA with an emphasis in Accounting and a CPA license. I worked for about 10 years in CPA firms doing audits and reviews and then for about 10 years in private companies managing accounting departments. I've learned a lot about accounting, finances and taxes over the last 20 years! And now I want to share my knowledge with you here!