Bookkeeping and taxes

Hi I am a photographer. I am not going to actually get to my first fair until April of 2016. My question is how far back can I go in writing off expense, I bought a new camera and have been traveling taking photos since May to create my portfolio. Can I write off that far back?

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  • Perhaps the below link will be helpful regarding Accounting-type questions.

    Good Luck with the shows!

  • Do you still need help with this?  I'm a photographer that does art fairs as well as a tax accountant.  I can answer questions and help you get set up to keep good records, etc.  Reach out if you still need

  • The form you are talking about is a 1099.  (A W9 is what you fill out when they request your EIN# so they can give you a 1099.)  If the 1099 form shows the gross amount, including the amount of gallery commission, then you need to report the whole amount as a sale and deduct the commission as an expense.  If you report the net amount (after commission) as the sale, then you don't deduct the commission again.  You can do it either way, because it all comes out the same in the end.  However, you don't want to report less income than the total of your 1099s, because that would get you a letter (or probably a bill) from the IRS.

  • I may be doing it wrong but I only count what I get from the sale as income. The gallery commission is income for the gallery.
    • I haven't sold enough in galleries to get a W-9 but if the whole amount is there it seems you should be able to deduct the commission.
    • But the form we get, W-9 or whatever it is, has the entire amount on it, including the commission, doesn't it. So you submit a different amount than is on the form? Or am I thinking wrong, and that amount is what I made AFTER commissions? Doing taxes makes me feel Thick as a Brick. 

  • This is in keeping with the general theme of this topic, though not with the specifics. 

    I just finished my taxes... and wondered again why we can't deduct gallery commissions as a business expense. Why do I have to pay the tax on the entire amount, including the large percentage I pay the galleries? Or am I not understanding things correctly? 

    • Generally the 1099 you get from the Gallery lists the amount they paid you - not the entire amount. If they sent you a check (the gross amount of the sale) and then you wrote them a check for the commission, you could write the commission amt off. That would not be the usual way it would work. If the buyer of your work paid you directly and then you paid the gallery, you would have had to send the gallery a 1099 for the amount of the commission. And you would write that commission off.
  • If you start a business and put equipment that you already owned into service in that business, you would use either the cost of the equipment, or the fair market value of the equipment at the time you placed it into service, whichever is lower.  

    If you have expenses in 2015, but did not actually "open for business" until 2016, I would keep track of it and call it start up costs which you would then take in 2016.

    I would also recommend getting a good tax accountant, preferably a CPA or enrolled agent, who is good at explaining things to you.

  • I agree with talking to your accountant. If I am reading this correctly, you want to deduct items that you purchased before you were actually in business i.e. Had any shows or money making endeavors. If that is the case, I would be skeptical but I am not an accountant. There may be a way to do it.
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