Can You Deduct Photography Props on Taxes?

Save receipts when buying photography props for business use.
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When your love of snapping pictures becomes a regular weekend hobby and your garage is filled with photography props, evaluate your passion. Is your camera work becoming a side job? If so, it's time to start itemizing your business expenses and deductions -- including photography props -- when you file taxes.

Are You a Business?

There's no clear-cut line between a hobby and a small business. According to the Internal Revenue Service, "An activity qualifies as a business if it is carried on with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit." To deduct the cost of photography props during tax season, conduct your work as a business with growth potential. Create a business plan dictating goals and profit margins, and file a Schedule C form when you complete your taxes. Itemize all expenses related to the business, not just the cost of props. This includes the cost of buying camera gear, lighting equipment, business maintenance software and mileage when driving to photography appointments.

What Is Deductible

You can deduct items used exclusively for your photography work. The item must be considered ordinary and necessary, according to the Internal Revenue Service. For example, a zebra-patterned footstool used for edgy senior portraits can be deducted on your taxes as long as the stool doesn't double as daily-use living room furniture when you're not taking pictures. The stool serves as seating, which is an ordinary part of portrait photography and could be necessary to accommodate a portrait subject who must be seated while being photographed.

How to Deduct Props

Deducting the cost or photography props is a two-step process. When you purchase the item, save the sales receipt. Add the purchase to your cost-of-doing-business file and include a complete description of the prop, the cost, the date is was purchased and where. At the end of the year, you'll claim this purchase on your tax return on the Schedule C form under itemized business deductions. If the item was purchased as a prop, you stopped using it within a few months and it became part of your household goods, you can deduct a portion of the cost as business use of the item.

Understanding Depreciation

If the photography prop is substantial and expected to last longer than a year with normal use, you may depreciate the cost over several years. This might include furniture, custom hand-painted cloth backdrops or a vintage automobile. Your tax accountant will ask how many years you expect the photography prop to last or stay pertinent to your business, divide the cost over the number of years and set up a depreciation plan for subsequent tax filings.

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