The Ultimate Guide to Taxes for Bloggers (+ FREE Downloadable Blog Finances Spreadsheet!)

This post has been a long time a-comin’. One of the things I get asked about most, especially from fellow bloggers, is how to make money blogging and how to best work with brands. While I definitely don’t have it all figured out, I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two in my 3+ years blogging now, especially since I was able to take CUR full time as my job straight outta college. (Really, not a day goes by that I’m not INSANELY grateful for that + you all. #BlessUp). While it’s admittedly hella fun getting paid to do what I lovelovelove every single day, there’s a not-so-fun dark side that we all face…taxes. Everyone’s favorite thing in the whole wide world. 😉 And taxes for bloggers is a whole new beast, since it’s such a complicated, weird little internet world we live in together.

I am by NO MEANS a.) a lawyer, b.) a tax expert, c.) anyone who is certified in anything to actually take life-or-death tax advice from. Honestly, J does my taxes with me cos I don’t trust myself to fly solo with it, and he’s the best hubs in the world. 🙂 BUT, especially since J is hella financially savvy himself and since I run my biz 24/7, we put a looooootta time + effort in from the get go to ensure that our t’s were crossed when it came to tax time. So I threw together (ie spent hours upon hours upon hours) this comprehensive guide – dare I say, the *ultimate* guide – to taxes for bloggers, with everything from what to track to how to track it and a FREE guide to help ya do it. Plus deductions. Since that’s the best part about taxes. 😉 Let’s dive in!

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The Ultimate Guide to Taxes for Bloggers (+ a FREE Downloadable Tracking sheet!) by popular Philadelphia blogger Coming Up Roses

TAXES FOR BLOGGERS – THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

First thing’s first…when you’re talking taxes, you obvi gotta know what you’re being taxed on – ie., the “income” that gets taxed.

  • Everything you earn and spend should be tracked for taxation purposes. What you earn is taxes, and a certain percentage of what you spend may be “refunded” after taxes if you’re able to deduct it as a legitimate cost of doing business.
  • The IRS counts products as income. If you’ve been around these rosy parts for awhile…you know that I do not. If Wells Fargo won’t take sweaters for my mortgage and AT&T won’t take shampoo for the phone bill, it ain’t fair “compensation” in my book. 😉 BUT, when it comes to taxes, don’t mess with the IRS. The monetary value of products received with expectation of something in return is what get’s counted as “income” for tax purposes.
    • PR samples don’t need to be reported, as there is no agreement in place, and therefore no “payment” element. Plus, you have zero control oftentimes of what’s showing up at your doorstep! The IRS classifies income as anything given to you with expectation of something in return. If there’s any confusion as to whether or not there is, it’s probably a good idea to clarify with the person giving it to you.

Keeping track for taxes

Tracking adequately + accurately is SO STINKIN’ IMPORTANT when it comes to finances in general, and *especially* so when it comes to le IRS. Like I said…they don’t mess. I’m *so* stoked that my fabulous hubby was willing to whip up a clean version of my own tracking spreadsheet, because it is an actual butt-saver and game-changer that totally simplifies my tracking process, eliminating many a headache along the way.

This spreadsheet is BEAST. It lets you track revenue and expenses (cos duh), provides an overview of everything to see a quick summary of your entire year at large, and automatically calculates estimated quarterly tax payments for you in a separate tab. YUP. This makes it *so much easier* come tax time, cos this girl is NOT about surprises in the form of less money in my bank account than expected. It’s hella nice to know as you go and plan accordingly.

DOWNLOAD MY FINANCE + TAX TRACKING SHEET BELOW!

IMPORTANT: Once you throw in yo’ email address, you’ll get an email asking you to confirm that you do, in fact, want to download the spreadsheet. Be sure to hit “CONFIRM”, and you should be re-directed then to your downloadable, editable tracking spreadsheet template.

Once you download, any fields that you should be/could be editing with your own info are highlighted pink. If it’s not highlighted pink, don’t touch it!

Some notes on how to navigate the spreadsheet easily…

  • The very first tab at the bottom – “Pending” – is an optional tab to use depending on your preferred accounting method. If you prefer to account for money as you complete the work that corresponds with the paycheck, but before you receive actual said paycheck (accrual accounting), you might want to put those moneymakers here. If you only account for money when it’s actually in yo’ account, however (cash accounting), ignore this tab!
  • The final tab, “NM“, is what you want to use to input “categorical codes” for various funds and/or revenue streams for yourself; it will automatically pull them, then, into the corresponding dropdowns in both the “Revenue” and “Expenditures” tabs. The ones in there now are just examples and you can edit as need be to fit your own blog + business, depending on how you want/need to track money coming in and going out.
  • The “Revenue” and “Expenditures” tabs are not entirely pink, but they are entirely editable, since this is where you’ll be inputting everything you earn + spend. Use the dropdowns accordingly, too!
  • The pink top row on the “QTP” tab – that’s quarterly tax payments – should be edited to reflect the appropriate rates for you for each of the given tax brackets listed, so that it pulls numbers from your data accordingly. Don’t touch anything else within this tab – it will automatically work its magic to reflect what you owe as you input your revenue + expenditures!

The Ultimate Guide to Taxes for Bloggers (+ a FREE Downloadable Tracking sheet!) by popular Philadelphia blogger Coming Up Roses

Estimate quarterly taxes, and plan accordingly.

Paying quarterly taxes means a waaaaay lesser burder + headache when the big tax day rolls around. You have to pay ’em anyway, so just embrace it

  • Put aside at least 25% of what you’re bringing in to be safe come quarterly tax time. I think it helps to have an actual fund in your bank account solely for taxes, that way you’re not tempted to touch it prematurely! 😉
  • Make sure you’re accounting for the self-employment tax, too. If you’re running your blog as a business and it’s just you, yourself, and you, you have to pay taxes for the business AND personally. Joy, amiright??

Taxes for Bloggers & Deductions

My favorite word. 😉 Note: You can only deduct if your blog is run as a business – not a hobby. Your blog may be considered a “business” if you have a profit in at least three of the five most recent tax years. If you’re considered a hobby, you can ONLY deduct expenses up to the amount that you have in income (so if you’ve earned $200 from blogging for the entire year, you can deduct $200 of expenses max…even if you spent more than $200).

A list of potential deductions for blogging taxes…

  • Office supplies/furniture/equipment/tools/stationery
  • Photographer costs
  • Courses (like BossPitch)/coaching/consulting
  • Percentage of mortgage/rent for dedicated office space (must be used exclusively for your blog)
  • Blog design
  • Web developer fees
  • Blog conferences, workshops, classes etc
  • Transportation costs, hotels, fees for travel to/from any blogging events, food costs while on business trips
  • Mileage
  • Business cards
  • Advertising costs (Buying ads, participating in giveaways, paying to promote your blog anywhere)
  • Supplies for any DIY projects, photography setups, etc. (Marble poster board for flatlays, bouquet of flowers for a desk shot, White tri-fold science fair board for backdrop)
  • Computer
  • Camera
  • Web hosting fees
  • Software (Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Picmonkey premium, etc)
  • Paypal fees
  • Fonts
  • Tax preparation fees
  • P.O. Box fees
  • Postage fees
  • Giveaway prizes that you bought yourself
  • Phone bill IF it’s business

The Ultimate Guide to Taxes for Bloggers (+ a FREE Downloadable Tracking sheet!) by popular Philadelphia blogger Coming Up Roses

My desk (On sale for $127! I flipped the two L-pieces upside down so that the desktop is white instead of clear – super simple hack!) // My desk chair (Also comes in navy + gold here) // Pink earrings (I lovelovelove these!!!) // White striped top (SO soft + on sale for $14…I bought it in black, too!) // Darkwash denim (under $20! Comes in multiple colors) // 2017 Desk Calendar (on sale for $19) // Wireless keyboard + mouse duo // “DONE & DONE” notepad (it’s a mousepad, too!) // Corkboard // Gold-trimmed whiteboards (I have three and use for my editorial calendar planning) // “She Designed a Life She Loved” pink print (from this Etsy shop) // Gold hashtag decor (HomeGoods – similar here) // Dancer Emoji Art (Old from Furbish Studio)

SAVE RECEIPTS!!!!

An audit from the IRS will backtrack the last 7 years. If you don’t have receipts to prove 7 years worth of purchases…ouch. I recommend an accordion-style filing folder organized by month (like this one!)

  • PRO TIP: Highlight what thing on a receipt was for your business, and note what blog post or social media promotion it was for. This makes it SO MUCH easier looking back even a few months when you’re getting everything organized for a tax payment…let alone 7 years down the line if that does happen.

Categorize easily

I mentioned categories early when it comes to tracking finances. Personally, I think categorizing things is a complete necessity since I have multiple income streams. If you have a really simple monetization model for your blog, you might not want/need to categorize anything further. But if you have multiple offerings and/or multiple ways that you’re making money…it makes things a helluvah lot easier to manage and track, and it makes strategizing in the future easier, too. Some example categories might be:

  • Revenue (Income): Sponsored collaborations, Affiliate Income, Freelance projects
  • Expenditures (Money Spent): Personal development, Equipment, Marketing costs, Supplies

Categories make it easier to break things down and really get to the nitty gritty of your business. If “sponsored collaborations” is an overarching revenue category for you, for example, you might have “blog post,” “sponsored Instagram,” and “branded Snapchat takeover” as sub-categories beneath that. The options are endless, so do whatever works best for your own organizational needs.

The Ultimate Guide to Taxes for Bloggers (+ a FREE Downloadable Tracking sheet!) by popular Philadelphia blogger Coming Up Roses

Proper forms

Record + report EVERYTHING, even if you haven’t gotten forms from the company for it. If you’ve earned $600+ from a company in a year, they have to issue you a 1099-MISC and file with the IRS. They should also have asked for a W-9 form from you before beginning work together for their own filing.

Don’t do all your Taxes for Bloggers by yourself!

I’m all for empowering thyself and making it happen across the board, but with some stuff…it’s worth investing in help. My hubby helps me now, but this time next year, my taxes will likely be outsourced somewhere hella legit + professional so that I reaaaaaally don’t miss anything. Whether it means hiring an accountant that’s well-versed in taxes for bloggers or learning the in’s and out’s of various accounting software programs, don’t be afraid to not do it all yourself.

  • Accounting software – Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Wave Accounting, Budget
  • Hire an accountant. Like I mentioned, a biggie here is making sure they’re actually familiar with taxes for bloggers, especially since things like deductions are so much more unique than many other more “typical” tax situations.

Enlist the help of a trusty kitty accomplice when possible, too. 😉

The Ultimate Guide to Taxes for Bloggers (+ a FREE Downloadable Tracking sheet!) by popular Philadelphia blogger Coming Up Roses

PHEW. I think that’s everything! I hope this guide to taxes for bloggers is *insanely* helpful for all my fellow bloggers in da house.

If you’re a blogger, how do you handle taxes?

If you’ve got any tips and/or tricks up yo’ sleeve that I didn’t mention, drop ’em in a comment below. We’ll all need all the help we can get this April!

If you have any further Q’s on ANYTHING above, pleasepleaseplease let me know – I’m more than happy to help ya out however I can. That’s my job. 😉

P.S. My birthday is this week! WOO! If you’re not already, you’ve really gotta be following along on Instagram – we’re doing a fun giveaway every. single. day. leading up to my big 2-3. So head on over + be sure to enter (and tell yo’ girlfriends, girlfriend!).

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