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Submitting taxes as a self-employed musician


Are you a full-time musician, an aspiring profession artist, or a severe side-hustler within the USA?

Did you’ve gotten sufficient earnings or bills all through 2023 to warrant submitting your subsequent tax return as a self-employed enterprise? 

Doing all your taxes as a musician might sound daunting, however don’t fear. This information ought to assist get you began, whether or not you’re already a full-time skilled or striving to show music into your livelihood. 

Let’s discover the necessities of submitting your tax return as a self-employed musician within the USA in 2024.

Disclaimer: Tax legal guidelines fluctuate by nation, so at all times discuss with native laws and search skilled recommendation if wanted. For USA-specific pointers and types, discuss with the IRS.

Understanding your taxable earnings as an expert musician

As a self-employed musician, your earnings sources transcend simply gig funds. And also you’ll need to contemplate reporting all earnings even IF it’s not including as much as sufficient to “pay the payments” but.

In different phrases, even when your music is only a side-hustle that’s producing earnings, it’s possible you’ll need to file taxes as a self-employed enterprise.

It’s essential to report all sources of music income, together with:

  • Stay efficiency charges
  • Album gross sales
  • Royalties from numerous DSPs
  • Social media monetization income
  • Livestream earnings
  • Publishing royalties (radio play, mechanicals, sync charges, and so forth.)
  • Merchandise gross sales
  • Instructing music classes 
  • Grants and awards 
  • Subscription income (Patreon, fan golf equipment, and so forth)
  • Work for rent earnings from engineering, manufacturing, session enjoying, and so forth.

Detailed record-keeping is important for correct tax submitting. If you happen to don’t hold these data tidy as you go, then you definately’ll need to bear in mind to test all the information sources: checking account, distributor accounting dashboard, PayPal, Venmo, and so forth.

Maximizing your deductions as a self-employed musician

To get probably the most tax advantages, you’ll need to leverage authentic enterprise bills as deductions. These are certified bills that scale back the quantity of your taxable earnings. 

Bills you possibly can deduct as a musician might embody:

  • Instrument purchases, repairs, or upkeep
  • Studio rental charges 
  • Journey bills associated to gigs or excursions
  • Costumes (although test the principles, as a result of it usually must be garments used completely for music functions)
  • Advertising and promotion prices (together with internet hosting, social advertisements, and so forth.)
  • Skilled improvement and session
  • Training bills akin to on-line music or advertising and marketing programs 
  • Dwelling workplace bills (when you’ve got a devoted house in your home or condominium for music enterprise exercise) 

Preserve receipts and data for all deductions claimed to assist your tax filings.

IRS pointers for navigating losses

Many self-employed musicians might expertise preliminary years with extra bills than earnings. That’s typical for companies after they’re within the startup part. There are buyer acquisition prices, in addition to the numerous upfront expense of making music and merch that has not but been launched to the market. 

The IRS means that you can declare a loss for as much as three out of 5 consecutive tax years as a enterprise earlier than they could reclassify your exercise as a interest. Nonetheless, you could display lively pursuit of a profit-making enterprise. Which means, it has to LOOK such as you’re taking your music profession severely. 

Preserve thorough data of enterprise actions, gig calendars, studio dates, advertising and marketing methods, and different associated efforts to indicate that you’re dedicated to turning a revenue in each intent and motion.

Reporting 1099s and funds to different music professionals

If you happen to’ve paid people $600 or extra for companies rendered through the tax yr, you might be required to difficulty them a Type 1099-NEC and report these funds to the IRS. 

This might be cash you shared with different band members from live performance income, or charges you paid to session musicians, producers, engineers, photographers, or graphic designers. 

Preserve correct data of funds made to different people and procure their tax identification data (Social Safety quantity or Employer Identification Quantity) as early as potential to meet your reporting obligations. You don’t need to be frantically contacting these folks within the days earlier than your tax submitting is due. 

Understanding Depreciation and its Utility to Music Income

Depreciation means that you can get well the price of sure property over time. Musicians can apply depreciation to tangible property like recording gear, devices, or automobiles used for touring, in addition to intangible property like copyrights or musical compositions. 

Depreciation could be a bit obscure and calculation, and compliance with tax legal guidelines is essential, so seek the advice of with a tax skilled to find out when you’ve got eligible property and probably the most advantageous depreciation methodology.

Another essential tax concerns for self-employed musicians

  • Quarterly Estimated Taxes? As a self-employed particular person, it’s possible you’ll be chargeable for paying estimated taxes quarterly. Failure to take action may lead to penalties. So ensure to do a little analysis to determine what your obligations are prematurely. 
  • Tax Withholding? Not like conventional staff, self-employed employees don’t have taxes withheld from their earnings. So be certain that to put aside sufficient of your earnings for taxes. You need to keep away from any surprises later when tax season nears. 
  • Want Knowledgeable Recommendation? This text is only a common overview. Precise tax legal guidelines will be complicated, and submitting your taxes could be a cumbersome course of. If you happen to need assistance, rent a tax skilled who understands all of the intricacies of self-employment, to allow them to information you thru issues like deductions, taxable earnings, depreciation, and extra. 


Submitting taxes as a self-employed musician doesn’t must be a nightmare. 

By understanding your earnings, maximizing deductions, and staying knowledgeable about IRS pointers, you possibly can navigate tax season with fewer stresses. 

Keep in mind to report 1099s as required, and put depreciation to make use of with a view to scale back taxable earnings. Keep organized, hold good data, and pay for skilled recommendation when wanted. That ought to get you safely by way of tax season and again to creating nice music.

Comfortable submitting, after which happier music-making!




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