If you’re a self-employed photographer, it’s vital to claim all of the allowable expenses you’re entitled to. That’s because it can significantly lower your tax bill when self-assessment season comes around.
Like most other sole trader businesses or business partnerships which make up the bulk of the UK’s business population, you can deduct plenty of running costs each tax year.
Most expenses incurred wholly and exclusively by your photography can be deducted from your tax bill. You need to be able to demonstrate that ‘wholly and exclusively’ bit to HMRC, though, if challenged, and that’s where keeping accurate records comes in.
What can you claim?
If you have to travel to a job, such as a wedding shoot, you can claim things like fuel, motor insurance, repairs or services, train or tube fares, and hotel rooms for those contracts that last require an overnight stay.
You can reclaim the cost of purchasing a camera as the link to your core photography business is clear for HMRC to see. The costs from buying tripods, carrying cases, filters, lights, reflectors can all be reclaimed.
For those of you that have a studio or a shop you operate out of, you can deduct the costs relating to commercial rent, business rates, water and utility bills and property insurance.
You can usually reclaim the costs of security measures if you have a shop or studio, too. That’s particularly handy if you store expensive equipment on-site and need to pay for the installation of CCTV, for example.
Plenty of photographers work from home, though. They can reclaim a chunk of their household bills like phone bills, heating, gas and electricity, proportional to the business/domestic split. HMRC usually accepts rough estimates as long as you can demonstrate your calculations.
Keeping accurate records
The best bit of advice I could give you for free is to keep a comprehensive set of records. That includes every receipt and invoice, ideally with supporting notes.
Using cloud accounting software, such as Xero, QuickBooks Online or Sage One, has made keeping accurate records a considerably easier task for everyone involved in recent years. They foster collaboration as well.
There’s certainly no need to present me with the old shoebox full of receipts when this technology exists. It’s actually quite hard to believe that used to be how it was, going back a decade or so.
How can I help?
These are just a few examples of business expenses for photographers and is by no means an exhaustive list. For any advice on allowable expenses or to discuss my other services, call me on 07803 782100 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help.