Most freelance writers work from home, but it’s still possible to put on some miles: conferences, interviews and generally trips to help us build our businesses. To an extent, the expenses we incur on those trips are deductible on our taxes, as long as we meet a few requirements:
- The trip must be primarily for business. As exhausting as some vacations may be, they just don’t count as work. (However, you can turn a vacation into a business trip — do some interviews, take notes and photos for travel articles, be creative! You won’t be able to write off as many of your expenses, but you’ll still be able to get a few!)
- Keep your receipts. You can’t claim deductions if you can’t prove your expenses — and receipts are your proof. If you’re driving, it’s also worthwhile to keep track of your mileage because the IRS determines the deduction based on that number. You may want to get so specific as to note where you went on each leg of your trip, especially if you’re combining a vacation with a business trip.
- Be reasonable. The IRS doesn’t like taxpayers who claim that ‘lavish or extravagant’ expenses are a necessary cost of doing business. While they won’t dock you for flying first class, try not to go overboard.
- Don’t claim family expenses as deductions, unless your family members (spouse, children, etc.) are employees of your business. As a general rule of thumb, claim deductions only for expenses that are relevant to your business.
I’m not a tax expert, of course, so consult your tax adviser. I can say, though, make the most of every trip you take. Get copies of local publications, network and take lots of pictures. Traveling truly is an opportunity.