Blogger tax deduction tips: Most people have something to share with the world. For those comfortable with writing, blogging is often a good fit. If you are among the minority of people who stick with it and turn a profit, then you’ll need to declare the income.
The good news is that, unlike working at the local coffee shop, there are a myriad of potential tax deductions that might be associated with your blogging income.
Remember, if blogging is just part of the duties of your full time job (working for The Man) you won’t be able to take advantage of these deductions.
However, if you blog on your own or as an independent contractor, consider the tax deductions in this post!
Tax Deductions for Bloggers
The IRS defines qualifying business expenses as needing to be both “ordinary and necessary.” Hmmm… what does that mean? Here’s a clearer definition:
- Ordinary: Commonly accepted expenses in your trade or business
- Necessary: Helpful and appropriate in your trade or business
So how do those terms relate specifically to blogging? Here are some common expenses that should qualify as deductions against your blogging income.
In other words, reasonable expenses related to your business or blogging income. New iPad? Yes. Video games? No, unless you review video games on your blog. Ah hah!
Commonly Overlooked Tax Deductions for Bloggers:
1. Site Hosting Fees
You can’t have a pro blog without a hosting service, so your hosting fees are the first thing that you should look at when calculating your tax deductions.
2. Internet Access Fees
You can claim for any charges you pay to access the internet, including the monthly fees you pay at your home or office, as well as extra expenses like roaming fees.
If your internet is bundled with your cable or home phone, you’ll have to calculate what portion of your bill goes to internet.
3. WordPress: Themes, Plugins, Software
Any software that you use for creating or maintaining your blog is tax deductible, even it’s something standard like Photoshop or Microsoft Office.
Personally, I’ve spent significant money to buy the WordPress theme and WordPress plugins for this very site, and you can bet that I write them off!
4. Domain Names / Domain Renewal
Individuals can buy domains cheaply straight from a company, like GoDaddy, or spend thousands of dollars on a premium domain.
Domain names are very cheap to renew, and usually only cost around $10 a year. For that reason, you might not think to include this in your tax deductions, but you can.
This is especially important for bloggers who buy and sell domain names for profit.
5. Products You Review
If you review products for your blog, you can claim the tax back on whatever you paid for them.
This really opens the door for write-off possibilities, because it’s fair to say you can write a review for just about anything.
Example: Let’s say you spend $300 to join Nutrisystem to write about whether it works. Or, maybe you pay to download the new version of TurboTax (coupon!) to write a review. Those are reasonable tax deductions!
Maybe you had to take the train into the city to review a business or restaurant? You can even claim for any travel expenses involved in making the purchase or writing the review.
Just make sure you keep all of your receipts, and can prove that you actually blogged about any products that you used as deductions.
6. Home Office (That’s a big deduction!)
If you work from home, you can calculate the percentage of space in your home that you use for work, then claim that percentage of your mortgage or rent, as well as utilities.
So, if your office is 1 of 8 rooms in your house, you can write-off 1/8th of your utilities.
If you have clients actually come to your house to meet, even better. That same fraction applies to expenses that make your home office presentable. Money you paid towards landscaping, home repairs, and painting, can even qualify as a tax deduction.
This is one of the most overlooked tax deduction tips because it’s so tricky to calculate. If you’re not sure about this one, consult an accountant.
7. Security / Cloud Backup
Do you have any security software on your computer or devices? Maybe you pay for a WordPress anti-spam plugin like Akismet? Many bloggers pay an annual fee for cloud backup from a company like Carbonite, and that’s a tax deduction!
Google is currently encouraging blogs to move over to a secure https address, which requires buying an SSL certificate. That’s also a tax deduction. (Speaking of security, read our post on tax return scams and protect yourself against hackers.)
When your blog grows to a certain size, it becomes almost impossible to do everything single-handedly.
You might outsource articles to writers via ODesk or Upwork, hire someone to design a logo, do WordPress development, or have someone create a custom plugin for your site. When you do this, you’re paying for goods and services which are tax deductible.
Keep a log of all of these purchases, including all invoices you receive.
Any advertising or promotional expenses for your website are tax deductible. This includes GoogleAdWords and Facebook ads!
As a blogger, your computer or device is your main tool, and that means you can claim the tax for what you paid for it. Do you upload videos to YouTube? You can also claim for money spent on webcams, memory cards, external drives, microphones, and any other gadgets.
The popularity of blogging as a profession is now so huge that there are regular conferences where bloggers and affiliates get together and share knowledge.
If you attend any blogging conventions like BlogHer, your travel expenses are tax deductions. If your blog makes money from affiliate programs, then maybe you went to an event like CJ University. If you interviewed someone for your blog over lunch, or sent them pears from Harry & David, as a “thank you” gift, those collective expenses are significant.
They can be pricey, but the good news is that you can reclaim the tax on your tickets and related expenses.
12. Stock images & music
Free stock images just don’t cut it sometimes, and if you’re paying for high-quality ones, this is a work-related expense. The same goes for any headshots or other marketing photography. If you use music, for example as a theme intro and outro for a podcast, this also counts.
If you use a business coach or mentor, you can deduct the tax you pay for their services. The same goes for lawyers and accountants.
Any subscriptions to content that help you to develop your blogging skills are tax deductible. This includes magazines, podcasts, and memberships to professional associations. If you have a “finance” blog, deducting a subscription to The Wall Street Journal would certainly be “necessary.” Deductible subscriptions would also includes SEO tools and reporting from sites like moz.com.
15. Insurance: Health or Home
If you are a freelancer, or go it alone, then you probably pay your own health insurance. The IRS should allow you to deduct all medical expenses over 10% of your adjusted gross income.
If you are claiming a home office, then you can deduct a portion of your homeowners or renters insurance. Remember, if you get your health insurance through your employer, you can’t deduct it as a business expense. Also, checkout healthcare.gov for a potential better rate!
The same goes for e-book purchases, as long as they’re related to blogging! This is of the most overlooked tax deductions because many bloggers think of -ebooks as entertainment rather than work.
16. Promotional Items
Any promotional items you have made, such as keychains, stickers or t-shirts, are tax deductible. Don’t forget to carry business cards with you at all times for networking!
17. Competition Prizes / Give-Aways
Whether you’re giving away flight tickets or t-shirts, competition prizes are eligible for tax deductions because they count as promotional tools.
When you send your prizes to the lucky winners, you’ll have to pay for postage. Thankfully, this is tax deductible, too!
19. SEO Services
SEO services are one of the most important tools of the trade for bloggers. If you pay a company to help with your site’s SEO, or pay to guest post on another blog or website, you can claim your tax back.
Google might frown upon paying for links (to your blog from other sites) but the IRS sees your SEO expenses as tax deductible.
20. Office Supplies
Even when you do everything online, you still need to pay for office supplies and stationery from time to time. The amount you spend on little things like post-it notes, paper, printer ink, and pens adds up over time, so keep track of it.
You can easily look over your order history on sites like Amazon to make sure you deduct everything work-related!
21. Shared / Rented Work Space
“Co-working,” or renting a desk in a shared workspace, is becoming more popular every day. What a great way to meet new people, network, and maybe play some ping-pong in the process. Remember, these daily or monthly fees are tax deductible. (Just don’t try to write off that $100 ping-pong paddle you bought, because it will raise a red flag!)
21. Incorporation & Trademarks
Did you pay to set up your business as an LLC? That’s a tax deduction!
Do you have any trademarks registered for your blogging business? It can cost around $300 to get one set up, but don’t worry, you can claim your tax back on it.
As a blogger, you might spend a lot of time at home, or at an office or co-working space. Still, there will be times when you need to travel in order to get some work done.
If you’re traveling for work purposes, tickets, fares, Uber rides, and gas are tax deductible. You can even claim tax back if you bike to work!
You can take it too far, though. One blogger learned this when he tried to get a tax write-off for an entire trip across Europe. Ha!
23. Food / Restaurants
This is an unlikely one. Of course, you can’t claim tax back on your groceries, but did you know that you can for your dining costs while you’re traveling?
Tip: If you’re away on business, anything you spend on food during the trip is tax deductible.
24. Cell Phone Use
Smartphone usage is seen as a business expense for bloggers, so you can get a little back for your monthly phone plan. If you are on a shared or family plan, you’ll need to calculate your share of the bill.
25. Contributions to Your Retirement
As a sole proprietor or LLC you might be able to lower your tax bill further by contributing to a retirement plan like a SEP-IRA, which reduces your taxable income.
26. Tax and Accounting Preparation
This last one is one of the most overlooked tax deductions, but it’s also the most relevant. If you get help to prepare or calculate your taxes, you can add the cost of that in there, too. Tax-prep software is deductible sometimes, too.
How to Report Blogging Income on Your Taxes
With blogging income, you’ll need to file a standard Form 1040, as that form includes the Schedule C to report business / blogging income, unless you are an independent contractor; in which case you should have gotten a Form 1099-MISC. (Assuming you made $600+)
Whether you have an accountant, or do your own taxes with TurboTax Self-Employed or H&R Block Self-Employed software, be sure to think long and hard about all the money you spent supporting your blogging income. Also, be sure to check out our useful coupons on this site, getting you up to a 25% discount.
Blogging: The American Dream?
To me, being a blogger represents the new American Dream. It’s exciting to live off the virtual land, with only your writing and entrepreneurial skills keeping you afloat.
It’s hard out there for a blogger, so, don’t give Uncle Sam more than his share of your blogging earnings.
Every little tax deduction matters! I hope some of these potential tax write-offs give you inspiration, allowing you to pry more of your hard-earned money back from “The Man!”