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Tax tips for artists

Contributed by tax expert Hannah Cole of Sunlight Tax

Tax season is soon upon us yet again. How did you do last year? If you gave yourself anything less than an A+, here are a few things to help you do a better job on your taxes this time around.

Often, freelancers miss deductions they are entitled to because they aren’t aware that they are deductible. So here is some help.

Mileage is a deduction people often miss because they don’t track it. The IRS rules require you to keep a mileage log if you’re going to deduct your business mileage, and this rule scares a lot of people off. But the deduction is huge: 53.5 cents/mile for 2017. This means if you drive 100 miles to meet a client, you get a little over $50 of deduction. If you drive for your business at all, it’s worth tracking.

MileIQ is one of several mileage apps that use the location detection on your phone to automatically record your mileage. You swipe left or right to categorize drives as business or personal. You can also track the things people often don’t – volunteer miles driven (deductible at 14 cents/mile, if you itemize) and medical miles driven (ditto, but 17 cents/mile, with a high threshold before it’s useful). The free version doesn’t capture everything, so it’s useful to get the full version. You can get a 20% discount by using this code: HCOL124A

And to help you understand the bigger tax picture that artists fit into, I worked with the artist professional development guides at Kind Aesthetic to create this lovely visual chart of what is deductible for an artist on the Schedule C (and where to put it).

In the service of having a better tax year next year, we built a one-hour online tax course, specifically for artists. We worked hard to make it clear, accessible and empowering, and I think it’s a great tool to help artists realize their rights as small business taxpayers, and how to armor themselves with best practices. In just one hour, you’ll feel a lot savvier about your artist taxes. And it’s 20% off for you, using code: ARTPRENEUR. Here’s the link.

Hannah Cole is a tax expert and founder of Sunlight Tax. She specializes in working with creative businesses and artists. A long-time working artist with a high-level exhibition history, the financial challenges of freelancers and small creative businesses are both relevant and personal to Hannah. She provides friendly, informative online tax preparation, and engaging, art-world savvy tax workshops for artists, creative workers, and freelancers.

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