2. Report all income, no matter how small: Some people think that unless you received a 1099-MISC (a statement of payments to an individual from a company), you do not need to report that income on your taxes. Typically 1099s are only sent when payments are more than $600, but all income must be reported, no matter the amount.
3. Don't forget to count that "free stuff:" As much as we hate to hear it, anything received with an expectation of something in return needs to be reported as income. Conference swag, products received to review, giveaway prizes, and any trips you are "given" so you can share your experiences on social media should be monetized and listed as income.
4. Make estimated tax payments: Running your own business, you might need to make payments throughout the year due April 15, July 15, October 15, and January 15 to the IRS. These payments comprise: both halves of the payroll tax (employer and employee taxes for Social Security and Medicare) and federal income tax. You're probably used to working at a job where these are taken out of your paycheck before you receive the money (so you never see it), but since you are the employer and employee, you need to take the money out yourself. The only cases when you do not need to make estimated tax payments are if you did not owe last year or if you expect to earn under $1000 total for your business the year. Obviously, if you fall into one of those two categories and decide not to make the estimated payments throughout the year, you still need to declare all your income on your tax return at the end of the year and pay then, or you may face penalties. I like making the estimated tax payments so I don't have to worry about setting aside money all year (and potentially spending it).
5. Deduct your expenses: As bloggers, we have a lot things we can deduct. Most of us work out of our homes and pay for way more than we think to help grow our blogs. Ideas for deductions include...
- Website expenses: domain hosting, web page design, search engine optimization services
- Advertising: sidebar ads, participation in giveaways, business cards
- Blogger education: webinars, podcasts, books, one-on-one counseling with other bloggers or PR professionals
- Travel expenses: airfare or mileage (in 2016, this is 54 cents per mile) to conferences and events, class costs, hotels, food while on business trips
- Membership dues: Charleston Blog Society for me!
- Supplies: pens, calendars, post-its, white marble contact paper (you know you bought some last year), photo shoot props, even that Erin Condren planner!
- Electronics: external hard drive, SD cards, anti-virus software, camera lenses, computer repairs, telephone bill (your personal portion if in a family plan), internet bill (approximate how much of your total internet time is spent blogging), public internet fees (on airplanes or in cafes)
- Post office or safe deposit box fees
- Home office square footage: 9% of our apartment is our home office so 9% of our rent, renter's insurance, and utilities are deductible