Tax season is now upon us. If blogging is your living, whether part time or full time, you need to take stock of potential tax deductions for bloggers. There are probably blogging-related expenses that you haven’t considered, and you need to look at all possibilities before preparing your taxes.
To help you, we’ve put together this guide of 11 potential tax deductions for bloggers in 2022. If your blogging activities in the past year involved any of these expenses, the deductions could make a significant difference in your tax bill.
- Before we get started
- 1. Start-up costs
- 2. Website and hosting expenses
- 3. Content-related expenses
- 4. Your home office
- 5. Marketing costs
- 6. Payments to outside contractors
- 7. Computer equipment
- 8. Other equipment
- 9. Online products and services purchased for your blogging business
- 10. Travel
- 11. Fees for business-related conferences and memberships
- Bonus tip: Don’t forget estimated income tax!
- Bottom line on tax deductions for bloggers
Before we get started
In the US, the IRS has strict requirements for deductions. You’ll need written documentation for each expense you intend to claim. Simply keeping a list of your expenses on Excel spreadsheets or other software won’t be enough. You’ll need copies of receipts and invoices to substantiate each deduction. Save all receipts, especially for major purchases. If you pay for services from outside providers, you should have an invoice for each payment you intend to claim.
Blogging is something of a gray zone for business purposes. Millions of people have blogs, and for the vast majority those blogs are just a hobby. To take advantage of these tax deductions for bloggers, you’ll need to distinguish your blog as a legitimate business.
The IRS has very specific guidelines determining the difference between a hobby and a business:
- Your business must be profitable. The IRS defines that as turning a profit in at least three of the past five years. If you go three years in a row without turning a profit on your blog, the IRS may disallow losses.
- Your business should produce a regular revenue stream, even in years when there’s a loss.
- You must put a significant amount of time into the business and maintain accurate books and records.
There are other “tests” the IRS uses to distinguish a hobby from a business, but they will usually only be used during an audit. As a general rule, as long as your blog turns a profit in most years, it’ll be classified as a legitimate business for tax purposes.
Be careful when claiming tax deductions (for bloggers or anyone else)! If you’re not sure whether you qualify for a specific deduction, consult a tax professional. Creativity is a great thing for a blogger to have, but getting creative with your taxes can land you in serious trouble!
📚 The deductions:
- Start-up costs
- Website and hosting expenses
- Content-related expenses
- Your home office
- Marketing costs
- Payments to outside contractors
- Computer equipment
- Other equipment
- Online product and services
- Fees for business-related conferences and memberships
1. Start-up costs
These deductions will apply only to your first year of operation. New bloggers have one-time expenses needed to launch their blogs. These are referred to as startup costs. There are some that are typical to any business, and others that are specific to bloggers.
The cost of incorporating your business is an example of a startup expense. As a blogger, you’ll also have startup costs associated with building your website. This may include hiring a web developer to set up the website for you.
According to IRS regulations, startup costs need to be “expensed” over several years (typically five years). That means the actual cost is spread out over five years, with 20% of the cost taken as a tax deduction in each of five years.
2. Website and hosting expenses
Once your website is up and running, you’ll have certain expenses necessary to maintain the site, as well as paying for web hosting.
You may also pay certain web related expenses to service providers to maintain the technical side of your blog.
All these expenses will be deductible.
This expense will vary depending on the type of blog you run. If your blog is related to travel or cooking, you can deduct expenses incurred in connection with those topics.
For example, if your blog involves meal preparation, you can deduct the cost of ingredients for meals you’re preparing for a demonstration that you will present in a blog article or video.
4. Your home office
Most bloggers run their blogs out of their home, and the home office deduction is one of the most important tax deductions for bloggers.
The IRS has specific rules for deductions related to a home office. In general, the office will need to be a dedicated room in your home: you won’t be able to claim working out of the corner of your bedroom. The office must also be used exclusively for business, which means you won’t be able to use an office that doubles as a guest bedroom.
The home office deduction is available for renters as well as homeowners.
5. Marketing costs
Bloggers typically incur marketing costs while promoting their blogs. A good example is the email marketing software that many bloggers use to create distribution lists for emailing their latest content.
That expense, or anything similar that you use to promote your blog, is tax-deductible.
6. Payments to outside contractors
Many bloggers use outside contractors to help with specific parts of their business.
One common example is the use of freelance writers to provide content. As your blog begins to grow, you may not have time to create content. You may use freelance writers to get the job done for you, while you concentrate on managing the technical and marketing sides of your blog.
You can deduct expenses paid for freelance writers and other contractors. If payments to any individual contractor exceed $600 for the year, you’ll need to issue IRS form 1099 (PDF) to that contractor. This will be necessary to support the deduction you’ll claim on your tax return.
7. Computer equipment
Computer equipment is a necessity for a blogger, and the cost of acquiring it is tax-deductible. There are two separate categories of computer equipment where taxes are concerned:
If you purchase computer hardware, it will typically need to be depreciated over several years. However, if you purchase peripheral equipment, such as headphones, a mouse, or a keyboard, those can typically be expensed immediately.
Fortunately, the IRS does allow you to deduct even the full cost of a computer or a similar large piece of equipment. It’s done under what is known as the Section 179 provision, which essentially allows you to depreciate and claim the expense for 100% of the cost of equipment in the year of purchase.
8. Other equipment
Computers aren’t the only type of equipment you can claim as a tax deduction. If you purchase a camera so you can take photos of items related to your blogging activities, the camera may be tax-deductible. If you include videos in your blog posts, you may be able to deduct the cost of equipment used to create those videos.
In either case, the equipment must be used primarily for your blogging activities. If it’s primarily for personal use and only occasionally used for blogging, it won’t be deductible.
9. Online products and services purchased for your blogging business
Just about any product or service you purchase for use with your blog is a potential tax deduction.
For example, if you purchase dictation software used to write articles for your blog, the cost of the software is tax-deductible.
You may also be able to deduct the cost of a service contract on your computer if the computer is used primarily for your blog.
If you’re a travel blogger, you may be able to deduct the cost of travel-related expenses. That includes transportation and accommodations at destinations that are the subject of your blog content.
You should be aware that there is a bit of a gray zone here. The IRS is well aware that business-related travel often has a dual purpose: there’s a business purpose and a personal one. You’ll need to make that distinction before claiming travel-related expenses.
For example, let’s say you travel to Hawaii to write a series of articles on that destination. If you go on the trip by yourself, and only for a few days, you may be able to deduct the entire cost of the trip. If you go for a week or more, and also bring your family, that will represent a dual purpose trip. In that case, you may only be able to deduct the cost of your personal airfare and a percentage allocation of the hotel accommodations.
Travel related-expenses must be in proportion to the income you earn. If your blog earned $30,000 for the year, but you spent $60,000 in travel-related expenses, you’re heading for an audit.
Be very careful not to get carried away with travel deductions.
You may attend conferences or seminars to help you in your blogging business. You may also pay for certain memberships.
For example, if you attend the annual FinCon convention, which is a common practice for bloggers, you can deduct the cost of attending the event itself. If you have to travel to reach the convention, you can also deduct reasonable costs for doing so.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget estimated income tax!
No discussion of taxes for bloggers would be complete without addressing the need to allocate money for taxes. Whether blogging is your full-time occupation or a side hustle, you’re responsible for paying your own taxes. Failure to do so can result in stiff penalties and interest charges by the IRS, which could cripple your business early in the game.
You can do this by setting up quarterly estimated tax payments. You can either send the payments by check, accompanied by IRS Form 1040-ES, or by paying electronically using IRS Direct Pay right from your bank account.
Estimated tax payments are due on the following dates:
- April 15
- June 15
- September 15
- January 15 of the following year
The total of your tax estimates should come very close to covering your tax liability for the year. You can either base your estimates on the tax liability generated by last year’s blogging income or spend some time crunching numbers with a professional tax preparer to get more accurate current year numbers.
Bottom line on tax deductions for bloggers
If you’re blogging for a living, whether as a primary occupation or a side hustle, you’re running a small business. Since your blog is a business, you need to treat it like one. That means taking taxes seriously, and part of doing that is using every tax deduction available to minimize your tax liability.
Written by Kevin Mercadante.