A to Z of Musician's Deductions in the United States

Author: Brad Howland
First Posted: October, 2000

Musicians are allowed to deduct all expenses incurred to earn income. This list doesn't give every allowable deduction for the self-employed, but it should give you an idea of some special ones for musicians.

  1. Accounting, legal, and consulting fees
  2. Musical instrument repairs: new reeds, ligatures, pads, accessories, etc.
  3. Music supplies not included in B
  4. Traveling expenses (not auto) to auditions, engagements, etc.
  5. Union and professional dues; business taxes and licenses
  6. Allowable expenses for employed musicians; complete Schedule A and attach Form 2106
  7. Salaries (e.g. accompanist, copyist, substitute, agent's commissions)
  8. The cost of videotaping or recording performances for preparation or presentation
  9. The cost of special make-up and hair-styling (performing artist only)
  10. Meals and entertainment (limited to 50%)
  11. Advertising and publicity, including photographs and other materials sent to news media and producers
  12. Insurance premiums on equipment and instruments
  13. Telephone expenses, including an applicable portion of the cost of a telephone in a residence listed as a business phone
  14. Concert clothing, cleaning, and alterations
  15. Music lessons, Training courses (board, lodging, tuition)
  16. Subscriptions to industry related periodicals (e.g. ITA Journal)
  17. Depreciation can be claimed on instruments, sheet music, scores, arrangements, transcriptions, office furniture, recordings, automobiles, and computers to the extent that they are used for business purposes; you can also elect to take the Section 179 Deduction (but can't use this deduction to create a business loss, see below)
  18. Bank charges on a business account, interest expenses on a business loan
  19. Convention expenses
  20. Delivery, express, freight
  21. Equipment rental
  22. Office expenses (postage, stationary, telephone)
  23. Research costs
  24. The self-employed health insurance deduction on line 28 of 1040
  25. Office or studio in the home, including a portion of expenses for mortgage interest, rent, insurance, repairs or maintenance, hydro, heat, water, other utilities, and property taxes (this deduction can't be used to create a business loss)
  26. Auto expenses, including a portion of expenses for insurance, repairs and maintenance, license fees, gas and oil, car washes, loan interest, auto club membership, and parking. You may elect to use the standard mileage rate, and can deduct state and local personal property taxes on motor vehicles

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