Taxes are freakin’ confusing.
Are you deducting everything you could be and getting back as much money as possible?
In this post I’ll be sharing with you a quick overview of what tax deductions are as well as 10 tax deductions that will save you thousands of dollars in the long run!
Let’s dive right into it.
Disclaimer: I am not a tax accountant and reading this advice does not create any client relationship or other advisory between us. You alone bear the sole responsibility of accurately filing your taxes. Good luck!
TAX DEDUCTIONS 101
More often than not, you will be hired for Brand Ambassador gigs as an Independent Contractor.
This means that you are NOT an employee of the brand or agency that hired you and that taxes are NOT taken out of your paychecks. Rather, you’re paid in full up front (woohoo!) but you must pay back any taxes you owe at the end of the year (boo…).
However, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) understands that you, as an Independent Contractor, are essentially running a small business and they allow you to deduct part of what you spend on your Brand Ambassador business from the amount that you would owe for taxes.
It’s one of the perks and rights of being an Independent Contractor.
Simply put, you get to claim a portion of the money you spend on anything Brand Ambassador work related.
But if you don’t claim those deductions, then the IRS gets to keep it.
This is why it’s VERY important that you keep a detailed record of all of your expenses along with receipts so that you don’t miss any valuable tax deductions and can also cover your butt in case the IRS has questions.
Let’s not give the government anymore of your hard earned money, yea?
Below are 10 Brand Ambassador specific expenses that you can deduct from your taxes! CHA CHING!
1. BUSINESS MEALS
You are allowed to deduct 50% of your business meals when you have to work and eat out of town (only one meal per day). If you are in-town, even if it’s for business, you are not allowed to write your business meals off. Because of the potential for abuse, the IRS keeps a close eye on meal deductions so you’ll want to be extra careful here. Keep records of all out of town meals and which events they were for.
2. PERSONAL WEBSITE
You are able to expense any costs you spent on marketing and advertising yourself. Whether it’s for your promo work, your acting gigs, your business, or your blog, a personal website is tax deductible. Bluehost is the website hosting provider I recommend to everyone because they are the cheapest, easiest, and offer the best service. They make it extremely simple to build a website, which everyone needs to have in this day and age. It only costs $3.95 per month for hosting and you get a FREE domain name (www.YourName.com).
3. HOTEL AND AIRBNB EXPENSES
If you’re traveling for work and your accommodation costs are not covered, you can write these expenses off as well! Hold onto all of the receipts and keep track of what dates and events you needed accommodation for just in case. While hotels used to be the go-to option when travelling for work, Airbnb.com has quickly risen in the ranks since you can now stay in a comfortable house/apartment/villa for about the same price or less. Using Airbnb is such a great option, especially if you have a good group of friends or coworkers with you!
Here’s $20 off of your first Airbnb experience. Have fun!
4. PHONE BILL
We use our phones constantly for this industry. We use it for our interviews, GPS, job searching, communicating with managers and staff, keeping track of receipts, etc. Whatever percentage of your phone and internet usage you use for Brand Ambassador related work can be written off as an expense.
5. TIPS ALCOHOL CERTIFICATION
Your TIPS Alcohol Certification training is also tax deductible since it’s an educational expense specifically for the industry. Brand Ambassadors who are TIPS Alcohol Certified get access to promotions like Wine Tastings, Clubbing Events, Bars, and Retail Sampling just to name a few. Your certificate will pay for itself after just 1-2 hours alcohol promo work! Hopefully knowing that it’s tax deductible gives you the push you need to get it if you don’t have it already.
6. BUSINESS CARDS
Networking will get you very far in this industry and business cards are a must for effective networking. They are one of the most valuable marketing tools you can have as a Brand Ambassador and the best part is that they are tax deductible! Moo.com consistently ranks as having the best business cards in the business and they also have tons of designs for you to create your perfect business card with.
7. INDUSTRY RELATED LEARNING
If you purchased any online courses, ebooks, or books about the Brand Ambassador industry or are subscribed to any event marketing magazines, you can write these off as educational expenses. The government wants you to stay sharp as a small business owner so go ahead and buy that resource you’ve had your eye on 😉
Depending on the events that you work, you may have to pay for your own parking. These costs can really add up if the agency doesn’t cover them so be sure to keep track of those receipts and event dates because they are tax deductible.
If you have to park close to a convention center or some other type of high foot traffic area, finding a parking spot could be a real pain. I recently found out about a website called Park Me and it’s a website/app that shows you where the cheapest parking is. It’s usually a lot cheaper than the price you’d pay if you just pulled into a lot and you get to pay in advance so you know you’ll have a spot when you arrive!
Because you work from a “home office” and must drive to different locations for work, such as events and tradeshows, you are allowed to deduct your business mileage. Beginning 2016, the standard mileage rate is now 54 cents per mile for business miles driven. However, it should be noted that the IRS loves to scrutinize mileage deductions so be sure to have a mileage log in your car at all times and keep track of your receipts. As a Brand Ambassador you’ll be driving for your gigs often so you won’t want to take any chances here.
If you’re not using a car to get to work and have to take another form of transportation, such as a train, boat, bus, plane, taxi, Uber, or Lyft, you can write these off as well. Be sure to keep these deductions separate from your mileage though. Transportation expenses are the number one item that IRS auditors look at so please be honest here to avoid being red flagged.
And just like that you now know of 10 tax deductions you can take to save you thousands of dollars on your taxes!
If you’d like to have “10 MORE Tax Deductions Brand Ambassadors Should Use This Tax Season” sent immediately to your inbox, simply click the image below.
Tax deductions can be very confusing but with a basic understanding of how they work, you’ll be able to protect yourself as well as set yourself up for immediate savings and profitability.
Good luck my fellow Brand Ambassadors!