The Ultimate Tax Deduction Purchase Guide for Photographers

Mar 21, 2024

As tax time approaches, all small business owners should be thinking about tax deductions!  

Depending on the business structure and tax liability, some income taxes may already have been paid, while others haven’t paid a dime.

This is where your business savings and tax deductions come in!

Take a gander at the top tax deductions you don’t want to forget about for your photography business and evaluate your budget, business plan, and needs before filing.


How do I keep track of these?

It is best to keep a running record book of the entire year with all receipts and notes referencing the event, client, or expense.  Use the following deductible categories as a way to organize and divide up your expenses into a manageable mess of receipts, instead of an unmanageable one. Seriously, get a structure and workflow to keep up with all expenses. Every penny spent that is deductible is potentially a penny saved. You can use an accounting spreadsheet to keep track and easily send it to your CPA.  


What is deductible?

Keep in mind that not all expenses for a business are deductible.  Not every expense within one of the following categories may be deductible either.  The goal of this list is to provide a structure for being organized, a guide for end-of-year purchases, and a bird’s eye view of what is to come with filing your taxes.  Always, always, ALWAYS consult a CPA or tax attorney for guidance.

1. Equipment

Whether Nikon, Canon, or Sony, the end of the year is full of sales and deductible expenses for equipment used in your business.  This can include cameras, computers, and lenses.  Word to the wise: Don’t buy just to buy for a deduction. Buy because you have saved for the item (or will be instituting savings to pay it off in your cost of doing business) and need the item.  Equipment may also be subject to depreciation deductions.

See: Recommended Photography Resources

2. Education

Education is directly related to the maintenance or improvement of skills required to run the business.  Note: Education that qualifies you for a new job is NOT deductible.  It must be for an existing business.  Education can include online workshops like LegallyLegit, in-person conventions, seminars, trade shows, etc.  Maybe you need some help on designing albums or tutorials for Photoshop; create a running list of educational resources you’d like to tap into and jump on them after making an educated decision. 

3. Automobile & Mileage Expenses

There are a few things under this deduction that all small business owners should be mindful of - mileage, expense of vehicle used in business, tolls, and parking costs.

Tip: To keep track of mileage for each session either write it down immediately or reset the odometer and let it run until done with a session – then take a picture and email it to yourself.

4. Software Purchases

Post-processing (Lightroom, Photoshop CS, Photoshop Elements) and accounting (Quickbooks, Quicken) software are deductible as long as they are purchased and used in the same year.  Software is typically written off for multiple years as it will service the business for multiple years.  However, Section 179 of the tax code allows small business owners to fully deduct off-the-shelf software in the year it is purchased.

5. Marketing Expenses

Expenses incurred directly to advertising and marketing are deductible for your business.  This includes business cards, magazine advertisements, and digital marketing tools.

6. Legal/Professional Fees and Association Dues

Fees, business books, and other related expenses to hiring and using lawyers, consultants, and tax professionals may be deducted for the current year.  Also, dues paid to a professional association related to the business are deductible.

7. Taxes

Taxes that your business incurs during operation may be deductible. These include sales tax on items purchased for daily operations of the business (as part of the cost of the item itself), employment taxes, and real estate taxes.  This is one area I strongly recommend the help of a CPA or tax attorney.

8. Charitable Donations

Donations made to a charitable entity may be deductible.  Also, and this goes hand-in-hand with marketing costs, costs that provide goodwill to the community (such as sponsoring a sporting or organizational event) are deductible, as long as it is easily seen that your company is the sponsor.

9. Home Office & Office Supplies

The space utilized in the home and a percentage of phone, internet, and utility usage to run the business are deductible.

10. Business Fees

ATM fees, credit card fees, and bank charges for a business account are all potentially deductible.


Recommended Purchases for Your Photography Business

Here are some of the top recommended purchases that can be used as deductions.  The key is to be smart and not simply purchase to reduce income tax liability. Make sure all of these purchases fit into your business plan for success. Make sure you grab our FREE tax deduction checklist to keep track! 

  • Education
  • Equipment
  • Accounting Software
  • Online contracts
  • Marketing Materials

If you want to learn more about running your photography business (including insurance & taxes!), check out LegallyLegit!


Explore more