Tax Deductions for Bloggers – What can you Legally Deduct for your Blog?
If you live in the US like I do, then you are allowed to deduct certain business expenses from your income... which means you don't have to pay taxes on that income.
How do taxes for bloggers work?
Here's a basic rundown of some very basic taxes in the US:
You earn $100. You spend $0 on your business. This means you must pay taxes on $100. If your tax rate is 25%, then you pay the government $25, and you're left with $75. Plus, you spent no money on your business.
You earn $100. You spend $100 on your business. This means you pay taxes on absolutely nothing. If your tax rate is 25% again, then you pay the government nothing, and you're left with no money... but you spent $100 on your business.
Bloggers are only taxed on the PROFIT that we earn.
Also, I want to mention: everything on this web page is not legal advice - you should contact a professional tax accountant and preparer for tax advice on your specific situation. This is just meant as a general guideline that I follow.
If you live in the US, and your blogging income is considered "self-employment" income, then you must also pay self-employment tax.
So... as a rundown:
- You must pay Federal Income Taxes. (Depends on your total income level)
- You must pay Federal Self-Employment Taxes. (Usually 15.3%)
- You must pay State Income Taxes. (Depends on your total income level - and your state)
For example, here's what I would pay if I earned $100 and didn't spend it on my business:
- I pay 24% Federal Income Taxes
- I pay 15.3% Self Employment Taxes
- I pay 6% State Taxes
That means, for every $100 I profit, I get to keep $54.7 of it (the rest goes to taxes).
Now... if I spend $100 on my business to help grow it, I pay $0 taxes.
Yeah, that's a little confusing if you're new - so talk to a professional for better advice. Taxes for bloggers are a bit in the grey area, so keep really good track of every expense (including receipts) you use to create or grow your blog.
Anyways, here's a list of some things you can probably write-off for your business and pay less taxes as a blogger:
If you pay writers, then these costs are tax-deductible. It's a necessary and ordinary cost of growing and keeping your business running, so the IRS allows it.
For example, on my Youtube channel, I don't write all my scripts and book summaries myself. I hire writers to pick up some of the load so I can focus on actually growing my business and maintaining that growth. Well, what I pay them is deductible.
If you have internet at your house, you can probably deduct some of it. If you use any of it for personal use, you can't deduct it all. That's the catch. If you deduct something 100% for your business, you'll want to make sure you use it 100% only for your business, or you could face penalties in an audit.
If you use your internet for 50% personal, and 50% business... and your bill is $60/month, then you can write off $30 per month as an expense.
Also, if you have a personal internet line (3Mbps - $30/month), and a business internet line (Fiber - $100/month), then you can deduct all 100% of the business line.
Any software you use for your blog is 100% deductible.
If you use something for keyword research, or something to help you design your blog - you don't have to pay taxes on the cost of those products or services.
Something I use quite often is Adobe Creative Cloud. It has Photoshop and Premiere, two of my favorite editing software bundled together. I use Photoshop to create custom images for my blog, and Premiere to edit videos for my channel. This costs me around $600 every year, and I don't mind paying it, because I need them and I get to pay less taxes!
It seems every year I spend around $2000 building a new computer. It's a lot of fun! I buy all top-end parts because I do a lot of video editing, so it's justified, but the experience is a blast.
Anyways, all $2000 are deductible because I use that computer specifically for my Youtube channel and creating content for this blog. If you buy a computer, or any computer parts (like hard drives for backups), then you can use that to pay less taxes! Plus, headphones, keyboard, new monitors, mice, and all other stuff that can make your job easier fall in this category.
Last year, I was a couple hundred dollars away from hitting a limit that didn't allow me to deduct my Roth IRA contributions. Well, my "tax lady" was really creative and asked me if I used my phone for business. I said "well, sometimes... actually, I use it a lot!". So we deducted 50% of the yearly cost of the phone and it literally saved me ~$200.
If you buy a phone and use it only for your blog or business, then you can deduct 100% of it. As an example, I bought a Samsung Galaxy S8 last year to use as a video camera, but I also bought a SIM card for it because I have a few bloggers who wanted to call and text (and I didn't want my personal number out there). The S8 and the monthly payments to the phone are all deductible!
Do you have a specific desk you write at to blog? What about a nice cozy chair that helps you focus? Personally, I recently bought a desk that rises and lowers and it wasn't cheap. However, it was a great investment because I am a lot more creative and can work for longer periods of time standing up. Plus, I've heard there's a lot of health benefits of a standing desk.
A lot of people invest in treadmill desks for this very reason! It's a lot healthier, and it's also tax deductible. (If you're a blogger, you're probably on your computer quite often!)
If you've been in the blogging space for a while, you might have your very own products or services to sell. Well, to sell those, maybe you spent a hefty check to Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or Youtube Ads. Personally, I've spent thousands this year on advertising. It's a good thing all advertising is deductible for bloggers, especially when you can get a positive ROI!
In fact, I've been testing with Pinterest ads, something a lot of part-time bloggers desire to master. If you've tried Pinterest ads, you can deduct your cost.
The IRS has a specific category for this, because they know almost all businesses need it.
Freelancers (graphic designers, web developers)
I mentioned writers earlier, but freelancers on Upwork make it SOOO easy for tax purposes.
When using Upwork, there's no 1099 form to file, you don't need to collect your freelancer's Social Security Number or pay them things like benefits. You just pay them for the job, and deduct what you paid them. It makes life super easy for me, which is why almost all of my freelancers are on Upwork.
We will talk about conferences later, but if you drove to a conference, then your travel and lodging expenses are deductible.
In fact, one time my internet went out in the middle of a big launch I was doing. As a solution, I got a hotel 30 miles from where I live to use the WiFi to upload videos and send emails. That launch earned me $30,000... definitely worth the cost of a couple nights in a hotel. Even better when it's tax deductible.
A lot of vloggers take trips on airplanes, and it's arguable every single one of their trips are tax deductible. If they only go on the trip for business, then it's a "business" expense for their brand and should be a legal write off.
Bloggers get the same deal! If you are a travel blogger, you can most likely write off at least 50% of your trip (if not 100%) for any blog post that you create which requires travel.
Office Space or Home-Office Deduction
This one is tricky and can definitely be a red flag for the IRS to audit you.
Make sure you document this deduction well to prevent future penalties.
Let's say your house is 1500 square feet, and your monthly payment is $600. Well, you use 200 square feet as an office for your business. 200/1500 is 13.33% of your total home.
We can take that same percent and deduct it from the $600 home payment. .1333 times 600 means we can deduct 80 per month, or $960 per year.
There's a lot of things you need to know about deducting your home office, so again... talk with a professional, but I wanted to let you know it's on here!
Web Hosting and Domain Fees
I have upgraded my hosting like 3 or 4 times, and each time it seems $100 more expensive. In fact, I'm up to around $600 per year for my hosting, so thank goodness it can be a writeoff.
This is a given for all bloggers, it's a must-have to be in the business... and as such it's a legit writeoff.
If you go to any conference or seminar or training that is related to your craft or trade, then you can deduct it. For me, I can deduct training like VidSummit, Grant Cardone's 10x Conference, and any affiliate marketing seminars. It's very helpful when you're learning how to grow your business and if you want to stay on top of the blogging world.
Yep! Any time you do a giveaway, or give stuff away to help promote your business, those items and advertisements are tax-deductible. In other words, you can write off stuff like sweepstakes or "random winner" giveaways.
Again, please talk to a professional, because tax laws change every year and are different for every state and income level. This article is just a comprehensive guide to deducting expenses for bloggers.
There are a TON of other things you can write-off as a blogger, which means you can pay less taxes, but this is a general guideline.
In the future, I'll update this list with my own personal deductions, stories, and maybe even a copy of my tax forms to give you an example. I hope this helps!