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
- 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:
- Office supplies
- Computer I use for work (including the sweet laptop I bought so I could work while in Vegas)
- Mileage if I drive for business related activities
- Subscriptions to trade publications
- Software for your business computer
- Space used for your home office
- Office furniture
- Eligible retirement plan contributions
- Health insurance premiums
- Salary that you pay your child
- A portion of your Internet charges
- 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.