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Brush Up on Deductions: Common Tax Deductions for Artists

Top 10 Artist Tax Deductions
Accounting and TaxesApril 01, 2023

Whether you create pottery or paintings, music or mosaics, if you're self-employed as an artist, you can deduct your business expenses from your taxes. Not sure if your creative outlet qualifies as a business? If you earned a profit from your art three out of the last five years, you’re official in the eyes of the IRS, and you can typically claim business deductions.

Here are the top ten deductions for self-employed artists:

1. Travel

If you hit the road for a work-related reason, like showing your art or teaching a class, you can usually deduct the cost of your trip. This includes expenses like flights, hotels or lodging, and getting around your destination. Meals count, too—but remember that you can also deduct 50% of the cost of meals while traveling.

And you don’t have to go far to earn a deduction—local travel for your art business is deductible. Trips to buy supplies, visit an art museum, attend a class, or see a business-related performance all would usually be considered a write-off.

If you travel by car, you can typically deduct your mileage expenses. For 2023, this amount is 65.5 cents per mile. Think 65.5 cents sounds small? It can add up. Once you’ve driven 5,000 business miles, you’ll have earned a $3,275 tax deduction. 

2. Agent Commissions and Fees

Some artists work with an agent to represent them and promote and further their careers. Generally, all your agent’s fees or costs are deductible expenses. Represent yourself? You can typically still deduct certain expenses related to promoting and selling your artwork, which we’ll cover below.

3. Art Studio Expenses 

If you rent an art studio outside your home, you can usually deduct the rent and utility costs you pay for the space. In addition, rental costs for a storage facility you use for your art are also deductible.

But you don’t have to have an outside studio or storage facility to get a deduction for your working space. If you have an area in your home that you use exclusively for your art business, you can claim the home office deduction. You can also claim a deduction if you devote a part of your home, such as a garage, attic, or basement, to storing your artwork.

You can claim this deduction whether you’re a homeowner or renter. While rent is not usually deductible, this home office deduction is a notable exception since it can save you money.

To take this deduction you need to figure out what percentage of the square footage of your home or apartment you use for your art studio. You can typically deduct this percentage of your mortgage or rent, utilities, and other home expenses. If you own your home, you also likely qualify for a depreciation deduction.

4. Art Gallery Commissions or Rents 

Showing your work is as important as creating it. The good news is that art gallery commissions, rents, or membership costs are usually fully deductible the year you pay them.

5. Equipment, Supplies, and Software 

As a working artist, you can typically deduct the cost of your art and office supplies. Depending on your craft, you may also be able to deduct work-related equipment like a pottery wheel, easels, lighting, or a workbench. The deduction generally applies even if you only rent this equipment, for example, a photographer renting a specific camera lens for a client’s photo shoot. 

The computer or cell phone you use just for your art business is generally fully deductible. However, only the business percentage of the cost is deductible if you use it for business and personal purposes.

6. Professional Artist Dues and Fees

It can pay off to belong to professional organizations, both in terms of networking and career advancement, because these fees are often deductible from your taxes. Fees to enter contests or shows are generally also deductible.

7. Art Education

Continuing education, like art classes and lessons, are generally deductible. This includes tuition, fees, and travel costs like transportation, lodging, and up to half of your meals. Subscriptions to art magazines and journals are also deductible.

8. Promotional Expenses

Track these promotional expenses as you work to get your name out there because they all generally qualify as write-offs. This typically includes the costs of your website, from getting a domain name and web hosting service to creating and maintaining it. It also includes expenses like:

  • business cards

  • brochures and flyers

  • photos and videos

  • advertisements, both online and offline

  • listings in art publications or directories  

9. Insurance

It’s wise to protect your investments. It’s also wise to know where you can get a tax deduction on top of that protection! Any insurance you buy for your art business is usually fully deductible. For example, you can deduct insurance for your outside art studio. If you have a home studio that qualifies for the home office deduction, you may deduct a portion of your homeowner's insurance. Your health insurance premiums are also typically fully deductible when you’re self-employed. 

10. Pass-Through Deduction 

This deduction could be your most valuable. It was established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2018 and is scheduled to continue through 2025. It’s available to owners of a profitable pass-through business—any business not owned and run through a corporation. The vast majority of artists are sole proprietors and can typically qualify for this deduction.

And it’s no small write-off: It allows you to deduct up to 20% of your net art business income—in addition to your other deductions. So if you earned $40,000 from your business, you could deduct up to $8,000 with the pass-through deduction.

Note that it only applies to self-employed income, so you can't deduct those employee wages if you're also a W2 employee. It also excludes performing artists, and there's an income cap and a few other limitations, so be sure to consult with a tax professional about whether you qualify.

File with ease with Found

The moral of the story is that a little tax knowledge and expense tracking can go a long way. Keeping records of what you spend means you can often keep more of your hard-earned money. 

If you really want to get your taxes under control, give Found a try and take the guesswork out of taxes. Found’s tax tools help you run your business with newfound clarity and ease. Found’s tax tools like automatic expense tracking, receipt capture, and auto-saving for taxes help you run your business with newfound clarity and ease—all from one app. Sign up for free today.

Planning to use tax prep software this tax season? Save up to an additional 20% off when you file with TurboTax. Restrictions may apply, see TurboTax terms.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on, for tax advice. Found partners with TurboTax, and is not a filing service. Restrictions may apply, see TurboTax terms.

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