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Whether you're a full-time photographer or a hobbyist who does freelance photography in your spare time, you can write off many of your expenses when you file your tax return. Expenses are eligible as long as they are related to the operation of your photography business. If you haven't formally filed as a business, you'll be considered a sole proprietorship in the eyes of the IRS for your freelance work.
As a photographer, you're able to write off eligible expenses related to the use of your vehicle. Eligible expenses include a percentage of gas, mileage, insurance, and maintenance of your vehicle while you're using it for work. For example, you can write off these expenses when you drive to meet clients at specific locations, travel to obtain certain shots, go shopping for new supplies or take film to be processed.
The equipment you use in your photography business is also considered an eligible write-off. You can claim expenses related to your cameras, lenses, stands, lighting, backdrops and props. You can also claim your office equipment such as computers, Internet service provider, software programs, printers, telephone lines and furniture. If the equipment is solely used for your photography business, you can write off the entire amount. If the equipment is used for business and personal use, you can write off a proportionate amount according to the percentage of time each item is used in your business.
If you're renting out a photography studio or a separate office space, you'll be able to fully write off your location expenses. If you're working as a freelance photographer out of your home, you'll be able to write off a portion of your home and utility costs for the time you spend working at home. However, in order to deduct home studio or office expenses, you must have a space in your home designated for business use that you use on a regular basis.
In order to generate clientele, you'll need to advertise your services. Fortunately, you can also write off your advertising expenses when filing your taxes. Eligible advertising expenses include costs associated with building and hosting a website, magazine advertisements, newspaper advertisements, radio advertisements and billboards. Even if you choose to create your own flyers and advertise yourself, you can write off the paper, ink, postage and other supplies you had to purchase in order to create your brochures.