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3 Tax Issues for New Photographers

Jul 10, 2024

Whether you started your business with the intention of starting a business, or you picked up a camera to satisfy an urge to create and somehow found yourself running a business —  as a photography business you’ve got to pay your taxes. Typically what that looks like is ignoring your taxes all year and then stressing come March because you have a ton to do and are too overwhelmed to know where to begin.

This is because there are 3 common issues that new photographers face when it comes to taxes – understanding tax deductions, managing estimated taxes, and staying organized with receipts. Struggling with just one of these can impact how you feel about taxes, but for many new photographers in the business world, you struggle with all three. So today we’re going to tackle how you can overcome each of these common issues.

A great starting point is understanding the different tax categories your expenses can fall into. So, I created a free guide for you. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the 15 most common tax write-off categories and what expenses fall under each of them. Plus, I’ll give you a few caveats for a few of these categories that you should know about.

Tax Issue 1: Identifying and Claiming Tax Deductions

Tax deductions can be your best friend when it comes to your tax return because these are the expenses that can save you money when it comes to what you owe in taxes at the end of the year.

Expenses that count as deductions can be things like equipment that you purchase for your business, travel costs that you have, or even expenses that have to do with your home office if you use it for your business. If you don’t know all the different categories, you could be leaving money on the table and missing out on savings when it comes to your taxes.

For any expense that you have for your business, you need to make sure that you write down what it was for and then go ahead and write down what tax write-off category it falls under. If you grab that freebie that I mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to have it beside you as you’re doing this because you’ll be able to easily walk through your expenses and see which category it relates to. That way, at the end of the year you’ll already have all of your expenses categorized and all you’ll need to do is total up each of those categories to send it off to your accountant or CPA. 

Tax Issue 2: Managing Estimated Taxes

The next issue that most new photographers face when it comes to taxes is managing and understanding your payments for estimated taxes. 

Estimated taxes are quarterly payments that you owe based on the reported income that you made from the previous year.  And it’s very important that you know that estimated taxes are something that you cannot skip. Since our income as a small business owner is not subject to automatic withholdings, we need to make these estimated tax payments manually to make sure that we’re staying up to date with the taxes that we owe as a business.

If your business makes over a thousand dollars in a year, you need to pay estimated taxes. You can use Form 1040 ES to calculate what you owe on your own, but I recommend working with an accountant or a CPA to make sure you are correctly calculating what your business owes for each of those quarterly payments.

Once that amount is calculated, make sure you set a reminder in your calendar so that you pay these payments before the deadlines. You want to stay right with the government.  And paying these estimated taxes are one way you can do it. 

How to Pay Your Estimated Taxes >> 

Tax Issue 3: Staying Organized with Receipts and Documentation

Issue number three that most new photographers face when it comes to taxes is staying organized with receipts and documentation.

It’s so important to keep track of your receipts not only for tax purposes but also on the off chance that your business is audited down the road. Receipts are how you prove if an expense was for a business purpose.  In addition, receipts allow you to reference what the expense was for, so you can easily categorize it as a tax deduction.

If you do not set up a system for organizing receipts, they can easily be lost. As time passes, it may be harder to remember what each expense was for, causing you to miss out on tax deductions to help you save money in your business. As soon as you receive a receipt, I recommend filing it physically in a folder in your office or digitally in a folder in your email or desktop. 

Organizing them throughout the year and by year can help you easily reference a receipt to clarify an expense, saving you money when it comes to taxes at the end of the year. In fact, I have a weekly tax organization rhythm that keeps me organized and on top of my own taxes. You can steal my rhythm if you’d like.

Have questions about any of these tax issues? Ask away in the comments below!

Few things make me more excited than getting the chance to help another photographer prepare for an easier tax season. So, don’t forget to snag the guide on categorizing your expenses – 15 Business Tax Category Breakdowns.

Let’s Prep for Tax Season – Together

Make tracking your numbers easy with my Tax Prep Spreadsheet and ensure that tax season is a breeze.

Transform your passion into a thriving business and unlock success for your photography business with my free guide to setting goals for the first year of your photography business.

Want taxes to suck less? Learn how to correctly prepare your taxes for your accountant with the Photographer Tax Course – and say hello to a confident and calm tax season!
Don’t know what you don’t know? You’re just 90 minutes from a custom tax prep system with my 1:1 Tax Prep Mentoring sessions!

XOXO ~ Heather Marie


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Photographer, go-getter, and ice cream lover
Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania