Taxes and the Untaxed

taxLast week, you read our article for untaxed workers in the creative sphere. As the educators making the arts possible in communities around the country, we want to make sure you’re educated in your finances. This week’s article touches on food write-offs, quarterly payments, and write-offs that you can enjoy!

FOOD

Food is expensive and you are a busy person. It’s less expensive to pre-make your lunches but there isn’t always time for that… As a creature of habit, I tend to buy my lunch from the same sandwich shop on my busiest teaching days. I keep the receipts and am able to write off 50% of the food as a deduction. If I’m feeling really generous the IRS will deduct 100% of my food expenses if I purchase food or coffee for my co-workers or employees. Food is expensive and all those receipts will take up some room but it will be worth the space.

ENJOYABLE WRITE-OFFS

As performers, we can take classes in the arts and write them off for research! I write off my monthly subscription for yoga since I use poses and breathing techniques for my students in voice classes. At the music school where I work, music teachers take lessons in other instruments and can write off the tuition costs. You can take dance classes, acting classes, zumba classes, private instrument instruction, buy new stage make-up, get a haircut for an audition but keep the evidence.

QUARTERLY PAYMENTSdollars

After you’ve finished your taxes this year and you find that you don’t have a lot of expenses to write off or receipts saved, you can work with your tax office or CPA to make payments throughout the year. Rather than having to pay one lump sum to the IRS and dreading the payment in February and March, you can relieve yourself of some stress. Ask your tax representative about this option this year. A lot of creative professionals I know do this and the continual check-in with their accounts helps them sleep better at night.

What unique item are you writing off this year? Let us know on Twitter!

Taxes and the Untaxed Creative Worker

calculator-385506_1280The Ides of March are coming and those of us whose money came to them in a “Miscellaneous Income” format are hurrying to make sure we don’t owe an arm, a leg, and our first born child. If you spent all of last year working in non-profit theatre settings and are claiming whole lot of un-taxed income, we have some good news for you. Read today’s Broadway Educator’s blog and educate yourself on your earnings.

All That Money

The great thing about being self-employed is that you can claim a whole lot. From food you purchased on the job to all the interest you paid on your student loans…you just have to know what to hold on to! For me, I save a bunch of receipts. When I buy crafts for my acting classes, printer ink, printer paper, new headshots, Facebook ads, a new computer, a website domain, or any material that would help with the progress of myself as a business, I keep the receipt. These items are deducted from the overall amount that you earned that year.

Another thing you can deduct is your rent and utilities if you happen to be a renter. However, you need to actually have a workspace that is secluded and separate from all other areas of your home. Your office space can only be used for that, otherwise it doesn’t count. My apartment is about 650 square feet and my office is about 100 square feet of that area. That means I can claim 100/650ths or 15% of my rent as a deduction. Since I heat, use electricity, and pay for WiFi in that 15% of space, I can claim my utilities as well!

Transportationdebt-1376061_640

If you are a Broadway Educator with a vehicle that you use to get to your classes, write down your mileage! From my home to my voice studio, it is 45 miles there and back. I made the journey 4 times a week within a 16-week semester and there were two full semesters last year, as well as 9-weeks in the summer when I taught once a week. Altogether, that was over 6100 miles! The government allows you to claim 57 cents for each mile traveled. That would mean that I could claim about $3400 right there!

Where To Find a Tax Person

The best choice for creative workers to make on getting taxes done is in choosing a tax representative. You need someone who understands his/her way about self-employment. I hire a CPA who once worked with me in an Arts Admin atmosphere! Since we know each other from that office, he gave me a great deal on consultations. So you can network yourself for tax help and ask your other creative friends who they go. Networking never ends for people like us…

ONE LAST TIP: If you donated your time to any non-profit fundraisers last year, tally up the hours you think you spent. Contact an admin from the organization, ask for an official document on their letterhead with your volunteer hours, and save it with your tax info. If you had charged the organization as a performer/educator for your work, calculate how much it would have been, and deduct that from your total earnings as well!