Taxes for Artists

Taxes for artists (in the US) are often confusing, this video reviews the nuts and bolts of how to file as a self-employed artist with a Schedule C, whether forming an LLC (limited liability company) is worth it, what you can claim as a deduction and how to organize invoices, receipts, and more. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Lauryn Welch.

46 min. video

Video Walkthrough

  • Most artists don’t need to form an LLC. (limited liability company)
  • An LLC is required if you want to have employees and have to run payroll.
  • Schedule C (form 1040) is a form you file with your personal income taxes as a sole proprietor. (“profit or loss from business as a sole proprietor”)
  • For Schedule C, you’ll need to report your “gross sales and receipts”
  • Most artists have multiple revenue streams that they need to report.
  • 1099-MISC is a form to report income for work you do for an outside vendor.
  • Invoices are important to send in order to get paid, and also to track your income during the year.
  • Paying quarterly taxes makes it so you avoid getting hit with tons of taxes to pay when you file annually.
  • You can deduct many expenses on your Schedule C, which will save a lot of money
  • Tools and equipment that are less that $500 each fall under expenses.
  • Tools and equipment that are more than $500 count as a business asset listing.
  • Expenses you can deduct include art supplies, office supplies, meals/entertainment, dues/subscriptions, outside services (web hosting, monthly fees for a podcast, etc.) advertising/promotion, shipping/postage, legal/professional fees, printing, travel costs, car expenses like maintenance, gas, and more.
  • Keep all your receipts and log them into spreadsheets during the year so you don’t have to do it all at once when you file.
  • If you have a home studio or office, you can deduct that part of your home as an expense.
  • You’ll need to calculate the total square footage of you home and the total square footage of your studio space to figure out what percentage of your home is your studio.
  • You can deduct home expenses toward you studio like home mortgage interest, rent, gas, electricity, water, insurance, and more.
  • You can’t keep declaring a business loss every year, if you do, the government will count your business as a “hobby.”

Forms mentioned

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