Tax Help for Artists
Tips and information for self employed artists and craftspeople in the US.
Tax information changes rapidly, always contact a professional to be sure your information is current.
Do you need to file a Federal return? Get filing requirement information from the: IRS
Is your work a business or a hobby in the eyes of the IRS? Find out here
Take Every Legal Deduction
Deductions reduce your taxable income and your bill. Here are a few examples of things you may be able to deduct.
Studio Space or Home Office - deductions may include rent, mortgage interest, utilities, insurance, repairs, and depreciation.
Supplies - deduct all of your art and business supplies, make sure that you keep every receipt.
Retirement Plan - you can deduct contributions to your IRA and other retirement accounts.
Student Loan Interest - your lender should send you a statement at the end of the year.
Insurance - if you pay your own health insurance premiums, in certain situations the cost is 100 percent deductible.
Advertising - print or online ads, flyers, business cards, and other advertising and promotional expenses are deductible.
Website - hosting, domain names, webmaster fees, web marketing, and other expenses related to your website.
Legal and Professional Services - includes fees paid to lawyers, and accountants.
Taxes - certain taxes directly related to your business can be deducted as expenses.
Travel - if you take a trip that is both for business and pleasure, you can deduct the traveling expenses as long as the trip is more than 50% business.
These are just a few suggestions, you may find many more expenses that you can deduct such as entertainment, education, equipment, workspace furniture, start up costs, software, and more.
Always make sure your deductions are legitimate! For more information see: IRS: Business Expenses
Quarterly Payments - Pay quarterly to avoid a huge bill at the end of the year. Self Employment Tax is high, making quarterly estimated payments is easier and helps to reduce penalties. Your accountant can set you up with payment coupons or you can visit EFTPS, a secure government website where you can pay all your federal taxes electronically for free.
Sales Tax - In most places your artworks or crafts are subject to sales tax and you need to register with your state's department of revenue. Visit State Links for information about taxation and doing business in your state.
Keep Good Records - Good record keeping saves time and money. Keep all business related invoices and receipts including credit card receipts, paid bills, sales slips, deposit slips, cancelled checks, bank statements, W-2 and 1099 forms. For more information see Starting a Business and Keeping Records.
Audit - To avoid an audit keep good records, report all of your income and report it correctly, make sure your deductions are legitimate and hire a professional to complete or double check your return. Generally, lower income individuals are less likely to be audited.
If you are selected for an audit, call your accountant. If you don't have an accountant, now would be the time to hire one. Don't try to handle the audit on your own, your accountant will know how to organize and prepare for the audit so that it is resolved in the best possible way. If you cannot afford an accountant see Get Help below. You may be able to find a service that can assist you.
Do your Taxes Online
Offers several different programs that allow you to do your taxes online including an option with unlimited year-round professional advice. Also includes free tips, calculators, and other services.
Also offers online programs to help you complete your taxes online with a professional, on your own, or with help from the online community.
You can also e-file directly through the IRS website.
IRS: Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers
Helps low to moderate income taxpayers prepare their returns at no cost. Visit the IRS website or call 1-800-829-1040 for more information.
IRS: Free Help Available
The IRS offers assistance online, over the phone and in person at local Taxpayer Assistance Centers.
IRS: Taxpayer Advocate Service
An independent organization that assists taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm and have unresolved tax issues with the IRS.
IRS: Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center
Resources, tips and information including news, tax law changes, online learning products, forms, publications, and more.
Always check with a tax professional to be sure that the information you have is correct and current!