You’re a content creator or influencer and have a growing audience. You’ve just started to make money from sponsorships, affiliate links, and YouTube. Which means you’ve also just started to worry about how much the big, bad IRS is going to take. And if you’re not strategic, they’ll skin you alive, because that’s how they roll.
But the truth is that you don’t have to pay the IRS nearly as much as you might think. It’s all a question of use the right 100% legal strategies, strategies I know every detail about. Why? Because I worked at the IRS. I know exactly what you can and cannot write off. So sit back, and let me teach you the secrets to grabbing the best content creator tax write offs.
What Are Tax Write Offs?
When you’re a content creator working for yourself, that makes you and intendent contractor. In other words, you’re your own boss, and you pay taxes as you go. In contrast, when you’re a Wagey, your boss taxes taxes out of your check for you, which mean you pay more tax. So how do you pay less tax, not more? You find “write-offs” (i.e. deductions) to subtract from your income. The more write-offs you have, the less tax you pay.
Here are my top 15 write-offs for content creators:
15 Content Creator Tax Write Offs
#1 Website Costs
Expenses that have to do with your website are write-offs. The most common ones are:
- Domain Expenses
- Hosting Expenses
- Web designer costs
- WordPress theme costs
These include domains that you purchase so you don’t have to deal with cyber-squatters (I own both TaxedRight.com and TaxedRight.net).
#2 Computer, Video and Camera Equipment
If you use your computer, laptop, or other equipment, then those items are deductible. That’s right, you can write off your camera equipment as a business expense (e.g., that $1,000 Canon EOS camera is a write-off). But make sure you’re using it to create content, not just filming your cousin’s wedding. Here’s a more comprehensive list:
- Laptop (for editing videos)
- Camera equipment
- Video equipment
- Lighting equipment
#3 Cell Phone and Internet
Do you use your phone to make TikTok or YouTube videos? Great! You can write that off. Don’t forget that your monthly internet fee is also deductible.
#4 Make Up and Beauty Supplies
If the Kardashians don’t pay any taxes, this is probably why. You’re on camera, so you need to look your best, and, after all, Sephora is expensive!
#5 Wardrobe and Costumes
One question I get often is, “Can influencers write off clothes?”. Only if your clothes or uniforms are custom to your influencer personality or brand (I’m talking to you, Twitch Streamer Girl). For example, you can write off your Cosplay wardrobe since it’s custom. But you can’t deduct the generic Nikes you bought at Target.
#6 Props, Products and Staging Furniture
If the content you’re creating requires a prop to get your point across to your audience, or background furniture for your pictures / videos, then you can write those off. Here’s an example of props you could write off:
Another question I get is, “Can I deduct the products I review?”. Yes, unless you get them free, since you could not create the review content without first purchasing the products.
App purchases and subscriptions you shouldn’t forget about:
- Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premier, etc.)
- Video apps (Biteable, Lumen5, iMovie, etc.)
- Shutterstock (monthly stock photo websites)
- Mobile apps (Giphy, Hyperlapse, etc.)
- Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
- YouTube Premium
- Stock music
- Expense tracking software (Quickbooks, Freshbooks, etc.)
- And hundreds more
Bottom line: If you use it for content creation, write it off.
#8 Home Office Deduction
This is one of the most common deductions for content creators. You can deduct a portion of your rent, mortgage, and utilities. This write off is more complicated, so I wrote an entire article on it at: Home Office Deductions
#9 Continuing Education and Courses
If you take an online course (e.g., Masterclass or Udemy) or pay to attend an industry conference, you can deduct it so long as it is related to your business.
Meals are deductible, but only if you are paying for somebody else’s meal as well. Apparently, the IRS doesn’t like introverts. The rules are:
- Must be a business meal with clients or colleagues
- Must be actually discussing business
- If the meal is over $75, you must keep the receipt and record whom it was with and the nature of the business meeting
#11 Subcontractor Costs
Do you pay anyone else for services like video editing, additional content creation, SEO ranking, and the like? These are all write-offs.
#12 Travel and Hotel
If you are traveling specifically to create content or for continuing education related to your business, then the costs are deductible.
#13 Advertising, Marketing and Prizes
All advertising and public relations expenses are write-offs, such as:
- Google ads (AdSense)
- Facebook ads
- Video promotions
- Giveaways and prizes
#14 Tax Prep and Accounting
If you pay someone to do your monthly bookkeeping, or your tax returns, you can write off all their costs.
#15 LLC or S-Corp Business Formation
Some of you have an LLC, or paid LegalZoom to set up your S-Corporation. All those legal and professional fees are write-offs. Including your yearly annual fee to the State you live in (for example, I must pay the State of Nevada $350 a year to maintain my LLC).
- Health insurance (but you must pay for all of it yourself)
- Business insurance
- Professional development (e.g., your business coach)
- Bank fees
- Credit card fees
Are these all the write-offs you can take? No, there are even more, but these are the most important ones. Each content creator’s situation is different. Reach out to a CPA or tax professional to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Keep in mind that it’s hard starting out as a content creator. Once you start making money, you will have come a long way. Don’t give it away to the IRS. Using these content creator tax write-offs will keep more money in your pocket.
With all that extra money, you’ll want to read next month’s article on whether a content creator should set up an LLC or an S-Corporation, and why.