Tax advice for musicians: how to make the most of your pile of receipts from last year

2088 5

Tax forms for musiciansTax tips for the independent musician

It’s that time of year again: tax time!

Uncle Sam needs to spend some of your hard-earned musical income on paving roads, funding schools, and a few million other programs and services. As the saying goes, “Two things are certain.” One of ‘em is taxes.

But tax time doesn’t have to be such a downer. Sure, you might have to claim that $150 bucks the door-guy handed you at your last gig, but you also get to write off many expenses, including equipment purchases, maintenance, travel costs and car mileage, practice or office space rental, audio and video production expenses, web hosting, etc.

For some great information on how musicians can make the most of their confusing tax forms, check out our interview with Allen Jones on the DIY Musician Podcast episode #47: A Musician’s Guide to Taxes.

Also, be sure to read “Tax tips for the working musician,” an informative new article over at the Disc Makers Blog.

Lastly, don’t forget to log into your CD Baby members account and tally up your digital and physical music sales from the previous year. You should be claiming that income, but hey — you can also write off that one-time CD Baby submission fee to sell your music around the world.

How do you handle tax time as a working musician? Are you organized throughout the year and all ready to file? Or do you spend hours and hours pulling random receipts out of desk drawers? Do you file yourself or get the help of an accountant? Let us know in the comments section below.

Guide: Make More Money From Your Music

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • StevenCravisMusic

    Thank you!

  • Sabrina Signs


  • Ava Britt

    Roads are paved with money from gasoline taxes & tolls. Schools are funded with local property taxes. If you want to know what Uncle Sam does with the money you give the IRS (and why you’re under no legal obligation to do so) watch Aaron Russo’s documentary film “America: From Freedom to Fascism”.

  • Oldnewbie

    Sure you can write off things but only if you make a certain amount. If a band only made that $150, for example, they could not write off their expenses. Music becomes in the eyes of the tax laws an “expensive hobby” until a certain amount in a years time is made (I forget now how much that is since I never got there!).

    • If you form as an LLC I don’t think there is a lower limit here.