When I first started blogging, I had so many questions about doing my taxes as a fashion blogger. Am I allowed to claim the outfits I purchase and shoot for the blog as an expense? (Nope!) Do I need to keep all of my paper receipts? (Yup!) Is swag part of my income? (Probably.) If you’re a freelancer, self-employed, or yes, a Canadian blogger, and in need of some tax advice, then this blog post is definitely for you! Here are my top tips for filing taxes and not going crazy in the process.
Get a Receipt Tracker App
Wrangling a year’s worth of paper receipts is my least favourite thing about doing taxes. And while, yes, you do need to keep your paper receipts, organizing them doesn’t have to be an onerous task. There are tons of apps you can download to help you scan, organize, and keep track of your receipts (Neat, Shoeboxed, etc.). And in the meantime, make it a habit to empty out your pockets/purse/wallet of all business-related receipts on a weekly basis and stash them in a box/folder/large zip lock bag, so that they are all in one place when you need them.
Use One Card for All Blog-related Expenses
If you are serious about running your business, then you should try and use a separate credit card for all business-related purchases. I do this, and it makes figuring out my expenses a breeze. I simply download all of my statements in Excel, and the expenses practically calculate themselves. Avoid using cash for business purchases, as you’ll be more likely to forget about those once you’re ready to file.
Open a Separate Savings Account for Taxes
As a small business owner, you probably don’t have the payroll department to automatically deduct taxes from your income on a bi-weekly basis, but you really should. Avoid the sticker shock of your final tax bill by putting away 30% from each commission/invoice into a separate savings account. This way, you won’t have to stress out about paying your taxes and your bills at the same time. And if your tax bill is less than anticipated, you can celebrate by using the leftover cash on something fun for yourself (or just keeping it in savings if you want to be responsible).
Hire Experts To Get What’s Yours
The best thing you can do for your sanity and to maximize your refund/minimize what you owe is hiring experts from H&R Block to help you with your taxes, especially if it’s your first time filing as a small business owner. Not only will you get all of your questions answered by someone who actually knows the tax rules and changes, but you’ll get a peace of mind, knowing that an expert prepared your tax return in case you get audited.
Since I’ve been doing my own taxes for a while now, I use the H&R Block online software to file my taxes. There are a lot of super helpful options and features like Auto-Filling your tax info from your CRA My Account (saves me so much time!), Past Return Import, Audit Protection service (if you’re nervous about being audited), lots and lots of helpful hints along the way, and there’s even an Expert Review service (20 or 40 minute phone call to answer any remaining tax questions before you file). I love the simplicity of H&R Block’s online filing software, and it allows me to do my taxes in my own time. I just open the software, and pick up where I left off. You can even see a current vs. prior year tax comparison, to see what amounts have changed from one year to the next. You can choose one of three H&R Block tax software products, with various features included: Free, Assistance ($17.99), and Protection ($27.99).
Don’t Forget These Deductions
While you can’t claim your outfits as an expense (unless it’s a work uniform that is), you can claim plenty of blog-related expenses, including your cell phone and cell phone bill, domain and web hosting expenses, software used for your business, DIY supplies, photographer fees, even giveaway prizes. I recently wrote a blog post for H&R Block about some dos and don’ts of tax expenses, but you can find a few more you can safely claim below.
- Domain and Web Hosting Expenses
- Internet and Cell Phone Fees
- Laptop, Cell Phone, Camera, Camera Lens, Printer, etc.
- Home Office Expense
- Office Supplies and Stationary
- Blog Design and Templates
- Stock Photo Fees
- Giveaway Prizes
- SEO Services
- Advertising Expenses
- Legal and Accounting Fees
- Business Travel Expenses
- Business Dining Expenses
- Props for DIY Projects, Flatlays, Photoshoots
- Photographer Fees
- Professional Association Memberships and Subscriptions
Whether you choose to reach out to the experts at H&R Block, learn about a few new deductions, or finally download that app to organize all of your receipts, I hope these tips help you make this tax season as painless as possible, and perhaps even save you money in the process. Let me know if you have any other blog/tax related questions, and I’ll be happy to answer in the comments. Happy Tax Season, everyone!
*This post was created in partnership with H&R Block. All opinions are my own.