My friend David Weyrick sent me some topics for potential blog posts. (Thanks David!) This one jumped out because of the timing, so here it is:
TAX TIPS FOR VENTRILOQUISTS
In the United States, tax day is April 15th.
Please keep in mind that I am not an accountant and can not provide tax advice other than to say hire an accountant.
That is one of the best moves I’ve ever made. I used to have one and dropped their service. I figured I could save money by doing it myself using TurboTax.
I did for a couple of years.
I hated it.
It took me forever and I was always afraid something wasn’t right.
Now I have an accountant on retainer. Each month, they get a file folder of receipts and paperwork. All of my accounts automatically download to a program he maintains. At a glance I can see what I’ve made, what I’ve spent and where I am.
I don’t have to worry about it anymore, which leaves me free to concentrate on other things.
That said – I still need to track some things …
(Your accountant can advise you on what is right for your situation.)
Here is what I do:
- First, I have a mileage log book in my car. I write down the date and set my trip meter for each gig. That way I can track miles which offer me a business deduction. (Depending on how you depreciate the vehicle.)
- I have a business only credit card. This way all expenses on that card automatically alert my accountant this was a business expense.
- I save paper receipts for any cash purchases. There are apps you can use to avoid the paper, but I'm old school here.
I put all paid bills and receipts into a file folder marked with the month and drop it off at the accountant’s office.
Things you may deduct:
- some or all auto repairs
- travel expenses - hotels, airfare
- office supplies
- online expenses - internet, website and hosting, etc.
- equipment: puppets, magic tricks, disposables (balloons, etc.) puppet costuming, backdrops, sound, accessories
- Services: tax preparation, assistants, staff, designers, dry cleaning, etc.
Do not deduct your own costuming unless it is something that could not be worn anytime except a show!
I take a per diem on meals while on the road. The government often allows a higher deduction than my actual receipts. (So I take advantage of it…)
If you purchase your own health insurance, your accountant can advise you on that deduction.
Entertainers often ask other entertainers for advice. In some situations, that isn’t appropriate. Legal issues and taxes are two of those areas. We can tell you what we do. That doesn’t mean it is right for your situation or area.
Your tax burden can be as massive or easy as you make it. It is simple to save the receipts and keep track. Figuring out where the numbers go – that is a job best left to a professional.
At least for me.
Wishing you the best on tax day!