TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / Self Employment Taxes / The Musician's Guide to Taxes: Top Tax Deductions

The Musician's Guide to Taxes: Top Tax Deductions

Updated for Tax Year 2016


OVERVIEW

The chance to be creative—and the opportunity to be your own boss—makes working as a musician exciting. Here are some of the top business deductions and expenses for self-employed musicians, as well as some tips to guide you through filing your tax return.


Your Studio or Workspace

Woman recording guitar in her home sound studio

Running a music business likely requires certain monthly expenses, and you can claim these as deductions to reduce your tax liability. These include:

  • booking fees for recording studios
  • rent for classroom or teaching space
  • utility costs for your workspace

Launching and maintaining your music business usually involves paying some basic business expenses, and you can deduct these on your tax return. Note that expenses related to a home studio are deductible, as are:

  • the costs associated with registering for a business license
  • maintaining insurance
  • fees associated with maintaining your website, like domain registration and monthly hosting

Other allowable deductions include:

  • membership fees to professional associations, like the American Federation of Musicians
  • professional services necessary for your business, such as lawyers' fees and tax preparation costs

Note, too, that when you attend functions sponsored by industry associations like the National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM, and Audio Engineering Society meetings, your travel, lodgings, meals, and attendance fees are deductible business expenses as long as there is a business reason for you to attend.

Instruments and Performances

As a musician, some of your greatest costs—your instruments, cases, bows, music stands, even your music library—are usually considered capital expenses. You’ll pay for them upfront, but use them over several years, as opposed to regular, ongoing costs like rent and utilities.

While you might not be able to claim the entire upfront cost as a business expense, you may be able to claim some of the cost in small increments over time (a process called depreciation).

Keep all receipts for travel to lessons, recording sessions, and performances, as you can claim the mileage come tax time. Instrument upkeep and repairs, and the cost of consumable goods like rosin, are also deductible expenses.

Musical Events

Deductions often overlooked by musicians are the costs of such things as tickets, transportation, and parking, incurred when you attend other musicians' performances. You attend these performances in order to enjoy them, but also to learn about musical trends, which makes them deductible.

Strategies for Success

For all the expenses you plan to deduct, you’ll need documentation in the form of bills or receipts. Keep all of your receipts in a series of folders. For example:

  • Put home utility bills in one place so you’ll be ready to calculate your home office deductions at tax time.
  • You may also receive a series of 1099 forms from your clients before tax time. Keep these and all other records of your income in one folder to easily calculate your total income.

Review income and expenses monthly, organize your bills and receipts as needed, and ensure you’re setting aside enough money for your quarterly estimated tax payments if you are required to pay them. Monthly review and adjustments helps spot any missing documentation.

Remember, with TurboTax, we’ll ask you simple questions and fill out the right tax forms for you to maximize your tax deductions.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99*
Start for Free

Looking for more information?

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Absolute Zero $0 federal (1040EZ/1040A) + $0 state offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed: File your 2016 TurboTax Self-Employed return between 4/19/17 and 10/16/17 to receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed until 10/31/18. Activation by 12/31/17 required. Sign in to QuickBooks Self-Employed via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax; e-mail address used for activation and sign-in. Offer valid only for new QuickBooks Self-Employed customers. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison.
    • When you use TurboTax Self-Employed to file your 2017 taxes, you will have the option to renew your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription. If you do not purchase TurboTax Self-Employed by 10/15/18, you will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 10/31/18 for another year at the then-current annual subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section.
  • Pays for itself (TurboTax Self-Employed): Estimates based on deductible business expenses calculated at the self-employment tax income rate (15%) for tax year 2016. Actual results will vary based on your tax situation.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Expert Help, Tax Advice and SmartLook: Included with Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed (via phone or on-screen); not included with Federal Free Edition (but available for purchase with the Plus bundle). SmartLook on-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. TurboTax experts provide general advice, customer service and product help; tax advice provided only by credentialed CPAs, enrolled agents and tax attorneys. Feature availability varies by device. State tax advice is free. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Return Access, My Docs and My Analysis & Advice features: Access to all tax-related documents we have on file for you is available until you file your 2017 tax return or through 10/31/2018, whichever comes first. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.
  • #1 rated online tax prep provider: Based on independent comparison of the best online tax software by TopTenReviews.com March 13, 2017.
  • TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice via phone is included with Premier and Home & Business; fees apply for Basic and Deluxe customers. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2015 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2011 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.