Business as a Hobby
If your business claims a net income loss for too many years or fails to meet other IRS requirements, the IRS may determine that it qualifies as a hobby. This could mean that you won’t be able to deduct any losses related to the business, and you won’t be allowed to deduct any expenses associated with running the business. A tax attorney has prepared this article to provide additional information regarding this issue. Please consult with your tax advisors or attorney regarding any questions.
The IRS considers businesses operated primarily for pleasure or recreation to be hobbies. The IRS treats a business that loses money yearly as a hobby.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, the IRS generally doesn’t consider it a hobby if you run a business out of your home.
In addition, if you operate a business that meets specific criteria, such as having fewer than 20 employees, the IRS may allow you to continue operating the business without being classified as a hobby.
Earning a profit
The Internal Revenue Service says that most businesses are expected to earn profits. However, if you’re running a small business without making a profit, there are some things you can do to improve your chances of turning a profit. Here are three ways to find out whether your business qualifies as a hobby or a business:
Are you spending enough time working on the business to generate income? For example, does your business require lots of research, marketing, or administrative tasks? If yes, consider how much time you spend on each task.
Is earning a profit your primary goal? If you want to make money, your business isn’t a hobby. But if you’re trying to enjoy yourself while you work, your business could still qualify as a hobby.
Do you know what you’re doing? Suppose you’ve never run a business before. In that case, you’ll likely need to learn about accounting, taxes, sales tax, advertising, customer relations, and inventory management before you can expect to make a profit.
Determining If An Activity Is A Hobby Or A Business
- Is the activity conducted in a businesslike manner?
- Does the taxpayer maintain complete and accurate books and accounts?
- Do the activities generate enough income to support themselves?
- Are there any profits or losses? If yes, how much?
- What changes do you make to the operations?
- How does the taxpayer spend money?
- Have you changed operating procedures since starting up?
- Has the activity been ongoing for over five years?
- Can the taxpayer afford to stop?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally classifies your business as a hobby, trade, or business. This determines how much money you can deduct from your taxes.
Generally, the IRS classifies a hobby as a passive activity and does not allow you to deduct any losses or expenses on your tax return unless you’re self-employed. You’ll also pay additional taxes based on your net profit or loss.
If you have a hobby loss, you can still use some of your associated expenses as a deduction against your taxable income. These include advertising, wages, insurance, etc., depending on what type of business you run.
For example, if you run a photography studio, you might deduct the cost of professional equipment like lighting, cameras, lenses, computers, software, editing programs, etc. But you cannot deduct the rent you paid for office space or the salaries you paid for employees.
You can also deduct certain costs associated with running your business, such as depreciation, interest, and legal fees. But again, you cannot deduct the rent or salary you paid yourself.
In addition, you cannot deduct any losses you incurred during the year. So if you lost $10,000 on your photography business, you’d only be allowed to write off $1,000 as a deduction against your income.
But there are exceptions. If you have a hobby that generates more than $100,000 in revenue annually, you can deduct up to 25% of your hobby’s profits on your federal income tax returns.
Avoiding The Hobby Classification
Running a hobby as a business might mean losing some tax breaks. But there are things you can do to make sure your hobby doesn’t become a full-time job.
The Internal Revenue Service says that running a business involves making money through sales or profits. And if you’re not doing that, it could classify your business as a hobby and give you fewer benefits.
For example, if you run a restaurant, you won’t qualify for specific health insurance programs. You’ll also pay self-employment taxes based on how much you earn.
You don’t necessarily have to turn your hobby into a full-time job to avoid IRS scrutiny. There are plenty of reasons someone might want to keep their hobby separate from work. For instance, if you’re trying to build up a portfolio of skills, having a side hustle gives you the chance to try new things without taking away from your day job.
Have More Questions? Contact Us!
If you have questions about your business income, deductions, and related matters, speak with a tax attorney at The McGuire Law Firm. Free consultation with a tax or business attorney in Denver or Golden, Colorado.