Monday, January 25, 2010

Artist Business: Good Record Keeping Is Essential

Art careers often start as a hobby or a side endeavor, then develop into a profitable business. Many artists do not realize that they have started making money until they complete their tax returns and discover they owe money to the IRS.

Regardless of whether you are a new artist beginning your career or a seasoned professional, you should treat all of your artistic endeavors as if they are part of a business. You need to develop and maintain detailed records that show both your personal expenses and your business expenses such as art supplies, booth fees, etc. Your records should also include detailed information on the sales that you make throughout the year.

These records not only can help you monitor your financial progress as your art career develops. They can help you or your CPA in the preparation of your tax return. With detailed records, you can also make sure that you are taking all of the deductions available to you. In addition, detailed records allow you to verify the items included on your tax return. The ability to verify your items is important in the future if you are audited by the IRS.

It can be overwhelming and confusing to start a good record keeping system. The IRS has detailed information on their Web site that can help you get started, in addition to answering your questions about self-employment and income taxes. For more information, visit the IRS’ website.

Guest Blogger: Artist-Friendly CPA

Illustration by Sue Clancy, Norman, for Art Focus Oklahoma magazine

To learn more about the topic, you can attend OVAC's workshop, “What's a Write Off?,” on February 18, 5:30-7:30 pm at Mainsite Contemporary Art in Norman. This workshop will address legal, tax, and accounting issues for individual artists. Learn more at

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