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Going to Vegas — And Getting a Tax Deduction!

by Miranda Marquit

BlogWorld, an annual conference that takes place in Las Vegas and focuses on new media, offers an interesting opportunity for those involved with the Internet to meet new people and learn new ways of improving their online brand. If you are like me, a freelance writer and professional blogger (yes, it’s on my business card), you can say that attendance at BlogWorld counts as a professional conference. So my trip to Vegas for BlogWorld is…tax deductible!

Here are some of the things that I can deduct on my taxes for my trip to Vegas:

  • Conference registration fee
  • Airfare
  • Hotel cost
  • Shuttle ride from my door to the airport
  • 50% of the cost of my meals

Also, if I rented a car and had dry cleaning done, those things would be tax deductible as well.

Self-Employed Tax Deductions

In essence, I’m getting my trip to Vegas for free — except for half the cost of my meals. There are other deductions that I can take as the self-employed owner of a home business. Some of the other tax deductions that I am eligible for include:

  1. Office supplies
  2. Computer I use for work (including the sweet laptop I bought so I could work while in Vegas)
  3. Mileage if I drive for business related activities
  4. Subscriptions to trade publications
  5. Software for your business computer
  6. Space used for your home office
  7. Office furniture
  8. Eligible retirement plan contributions
  9. Health insurance premiums
  10. Salary that you pay your child
  11. A portion of your Internet charges
  12. Phone expenses for a separate line for your business

You do need to realize that there are caveats, though. If you are going to deduct, you should only be using it for your home business; it shouldn’t be used by other members of your family, or for non-business purposes. Additionally, there may be some other limitations. A good accountant can help you figure out what is eligible as a deduction for your home business, and help you properly prepare your tax return.

Documentation — And Plenty of It

Also, if you are going to deduct home business expenses on your taxes, you had better have proper documentation. Save your receipts, and make a note somewhere of what you were doing. I keep a datebook (you can do this electronically as well) of my expenses, and where — and why — they occurred. I keep receipts, and write “business” on them, as well as the reason the money was spent. My personal finance software has a category for business expense, and I add a memo, which makes it easy to add up the total, and even to print a report at the end of the year that breaks it all down.

I have a folder for business expenses, and once I get home, I file my receipts in the proper folder. Then, when tax time rolls around I’m all set. Perhaps all that documentation is overkill, but if I do it as I go along, it really doesn’t take much time — and it reduces the stress associated with getting my things together for the accountant at tax time.

If you have a home business, go through your expenses. You might be surprised at the money you could save as you increase your tax efficiency.


Published or updated October 14, 2010.
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura

This gets me… I am a small business owner, and just because you write something off doesn’t mean it’s “free”. You basically don’t pay taxes on that amount, so if you assume you pay about 1/3 of what your business makes in taxes, then you still pay for 2/3 of everything. It’s not Free!!!

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2 Ryan

Thanks for pointing that out Laura. There is an important distinction between what is “deductible” and what is “free.” It might seem like it is free, especially if it is something you were planning on doing anyway, such as going on a working vacation, or buying a new computer. The important thing to remember is that the expense must be a legitimate business expense and the product or travel must be for business reasons.

That said, I write off as much as I possibly can, within the rules of course. I am a small business owner as well, and I took a trip to Vegas in January and to New York in August. I will write off both trips because they were for conferences related to my business.

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3 Miranda

All right. But it FEELS like it’s free. :)

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4 fredct

I was going to make Laura’s point, but I’m glad she made it already.

Nonetheless, this response scares me… It “feels” like it’s free? Doing things for the way it ‘feels’, even though it’s counterfactual, can lead to bad decisions and financial trouble.

Does does 5 times 0.3 FEEL like it equals 5? Cause that’s the math we’re talking about here. If your federal + state brackets are 30%, and if you spend $5,000 then deducting $5,000 saves you $1500… you still pay $3500 net. $3500 *feels* free??

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5 The College Investor

Great call out on what you can deduct. Its also important to remember that you can deduct partial use as well. Say you use your computer 50% for business, well, deduct 50% of its costs. The same applies to other things you use as well!

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6 fredct

That is false in many cases, investor. Tax law varies depending on the category of item, but in many cases, something that is used even 1% for personal uses, can’t be deducted at all. In fact, for clothing, even if you use it 0% for personal uses, you still can’t deduct as long as it even *could* be used personally. That is, the only deductible clothing is something like a uniform or scrubs or something that can’t be used elsewhere.

Be careful what you say, unless you know the rules, you could be encouraging someone to cheat on their taxes.

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7 Money Reasons

Great point!

Sounds like a great event! I’ve never even hear of the blogworld conference! Some day, if my site gets big enough, I think I too, will take advantage of such a great event! :)

Hopefully the deduction will still be around by then… :(

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