Dear Musician – Taxes and Music
By Dendy Jarrett | (edited)
I once had a preacher who would say that there is nothing more certain than taxes and death*. The challenge with death is there’s nothing more uncertain as to “the” time. What is certain is when taxes are due!
This Dear Musician isn’t written to stress you out, rather just the opposite. This Make Better Music issue just so happens to fall on April 15th, so I could have written about anything else; however, in an effort to encourage you to pick up an instrument, make some music, and forget about the looming midnight hour when you must have either filed or extended, I chose to write about taxes. Hang on!
Now, I’m not a tax advisor nor a certified accountant**, but I have played the stage at many a Holiday Inn in my day. The one thing I have learned is that your hobby of making music could be of tax benefit to you.
If you do anything with your music that nets you money, then you could be leveraging tax laws in your favor. Even if you play one show a month for $150 a show, you could be taking certain deductions for gear and other expenses that could prove advantageous. Now, it seems a shame that we can’t just make music to put a little extra change in our pockets without worry of “keeping records” — I mean, we are musicians, after all, right? We live in a country where tax laws shift and morph, and we are obligated through some form of accountability to keep up with the things that we are required to report to the Internal Revenue Service. It can be a bummer or a blessing. I mean, how great is it that you might be able to take depreciable deductions for music gear…!
I encourage you at this late hour to make certain you’ve evaluated your particular situation with your accountant regarding your music scene.
And, hey, if you owe…well, then pull out that instrument and play some Blues. At least you can get lost in the music and forget the woes of owes.
Back to my old preacher’s saying, I like to change the thought from nothing's being more certain than taxes and death to reflect that I’ll take taxes over death any day. I'd also like to change the thought to "there’s nothing more certain than taxes and music." At least we have music.
If you are scrambling today to file and I piqued some thoughts that you should dig deeper into the tax code with your accountant, and I helped you realize a better refund, then cheers! (Or at least file an extension to investigate it on a future date.)
Between taxes and music, I choose music. I’m filing an extension, and now I’m off to make better music! -HC-
**Neither the author nor Harmony Central makes any substantial claims regarding tax preperation or tax laws. You are encouraged to seek professional help preparing your taxes in the United States when taking deductions regarding self-employment.
*Original quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin
Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.
Edited by Dendy Jarrett