Most professional speakers work as independent contractors and run their own businesses. With all of the business expenses speakers encounter, there are also plenty of tax write-offs for speakers. We asked the experts what expenses speakers were allowed to write off and which expenses they tend to overlook:

“In addition to the meals, travel, etc., here are some deductions that people might not know about:

Tax writeoffs for speakers

Educational materials – If you take classes, lectures, or online courses on how to become a better speaker, it’s usually deductible

Losses due to theft

Newspapers and magazines – You can use these to stay on top of the industries in which you speak

Prizes for contests –  This is a good deduction, especially if you run a contest to get some promotion”

James Pollard

Speaker business deductions

“If you’re a professional speaker, most likely you are self-employed. Small business owners and self-employed individuals can write off almost any ordinary and necessary business expense that they need to keep their business running. For a professional speaker, some of these deductions might include….

Transportation for work

You can make deductions on any transportation expenses you incur for work, including any driving you do for business purposes (as long as you keep a detailed record of all miles driven). If you travel away from home for speaking engagements, you can also deduct travel expenses (as long as they are for business, not pleasure, and aren’t overly lavish or extravagant). If a trip is longer than a normal work day, then you can deduct lodging and meals while you’re there as well. You may even be able to deduct dry cleaning and laundry costs.

Advertising and promotion

Business cards, brochures, posters, and branded giveaways to promote yourself are all deductible. So is your website and any mailing list software or services.

Phone and Internet

You can deduct fees for Internet and phone service. If you use for both business and personal, then you must keep track of what percentage of the use goes to business and deduct only that amount.

Equipment and Supplies

Whatever supplies you need to be a professional speaker are probably deductible. This might include basics like pens, paper, and printer ink or it might include projectors, microphones, lights or other equipment for your speaking engagements.

Education and Research

Your education expenses are deductible. Any classes or seminars you take and books or supplies you need to buy are write-offs. You might also qualify for a tax credit. Some credits only apply to higher education (college) costs, while others will cover continuing ed and any other classes to will help you improve your speaking skills. Your student loan interest is also deductible.

Child care costs

If you’re the parent of a child under the age of 13 you might be allowed to claim a credit for money you spend on childcare while you’re working.

Charitable work

If you donate your time for a charitable event you can’t deduct the time spent volunteering, but you can deduct expenses you incur while volunteering, such as transportation costs.

Tax preparation costs

You can even deduct the fees you paid your accountant to prepare and file your taxes or the cost of tax preparation software.

Joshua Zimmelman
Westwood Tax & Consulting LLC
265 Sunrise Highway, Suite 1-411
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
Tele: (516) 792-0505
Fax: (516) 324-3136
Overlooked tax deductions

“Some of the overlooked tax deductions we see speakers miss out on are (1) software and online service subscriptions (2) Business entertainment and meals and (3) commissions paid by your business.”

Mark A. Wingo | Author of Wingonomics
President & CEO – New Beginning Financial Group, LLC
Toll-Free (877) 483-NBFG

And if you are a speaker who works on cruises, here are some cruise tax write-offs:

“Presently you can only deduct up to $2,000 per year for each person attending conventions and seminars on cruise ships, and only if the cruise trip meets all of the following requirements:

– The convention, seminar, or meeting offered on the cruise ship must be directly related to your trade or business.
– The cruise ship must be a vessel registered in the United States.
– All of the cruise ship’s ports of call are in the United States or in possessions of the United States.

– You must attach to your tax return a written statement signed by you that includes information about:

The total days of the trip (not including the days of transportation to and from the cruise ship port),
The number of hours each day that you devoted to scheduled business activities, and
A program of the scheduled business activities of the meeting.You attach to your return a written statement signed by an officer of the organization or group sponsoring the meeting that includes:A schedule of the business activities of each day of the meeting, and the number of hours you attended the scheduled business activities.Accordingly, conventions and seminars offered on Caribbean cruises are not tax deductible since their ports of call fall outside the United States.  There is a way, however, to take a Caribbean cruise and deduct more than $2,000 in travel expenses:  simply find a convention or seminar held in any of the North American Areas sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State and travel there by cruise!  The North American area includes U.S. islands, cays, and reefs that are possessions of the United States and the locations listed below:
American Samoa
Antigua and Barbuda
Midway Islands
Netherlands Antilles
Northern Mariana Islands
Baker IslandHowland Island
Palmyra Atoll
BermudaJarvis Island
Puerto Rico
CanadaJohnston Island
Trinidad and Tobago
Costa RicaKingman Reef
DominicaMarshall Islands
U.S. Virgin Islands
Dominican RepublicMexico
Wake IslandUnder this tax strategy there would be no need of restricting your travel on US vessels and to US ports of call, and of signing and of obtaining from the group sponsor detailed prescribed attest statements.  If your cruise does not exceed a week, simply attend a business related seminar or convention (even a one day event suffices for a one-week cruise), and you have satisfied the ordinary and necessary expense criteria of a qualified business tax deduction of your travel expenses.  Of course, on any business trip, document your business expenses by addressing the who, what, when, where, why questions, save receipts, and collect convention/seminar paraphernalia as IRS souvenirs.  If your cruise exceeds a week, you are still eligible to deduct the cost of the cruise as long as your nonbusiness activity does not constitute 25% or more of travel time. ”

Vincenzo Villamena, CPA

Online Taxman | 347 Fifth Ave. Suite 1402-171 | New York, NY | | (p) 646.400.0046 | (f) 815.550.8651 |

Don’t forget to include your Speaker Sponsor membership and any sponsorship courses you take!