US tax writeoff for travel
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Apr 17, 2012 8:36 PM Last Post By: HoneyMead
Mar 22, 2012 10:19 AM
US tax writeoff for travel(This may not be the best forum, but I figure there's some people who've done some long-term travel here that might have run across something like this.)
My wife and I travel every year and we spend somewhere around $6000USD on it. That's a very noticeable amount of our income. I would like to find a way to start making a portion of that a tax writeoff.
Now, the obvious answer is to be a travel writer. I've actually been published both in periodicals and books for things other than travel, but I think it'd be possible to get published in a travel magazine or local magazine of some sort.
However, I don't think that's the best solution. For starters, it really only becomes a writeoff for the portion of the trip or the topic covered by the article. There's a chance that could be something really specific, like cuisine in Hanoi. Also, I'd be writing the article, and unless I attached her name to it, she wouldn't get a writeoff.
I talked to a friend about it, and she suggested writing travel brochures and distributing them with local travel agencies about places we've gone. I thought that was a decent idea.
Does anyone else have any recommendations for how we can make our travel expenses a tax writeoff?
Mar 22, 2012 3:38 PM
1red flag city.
i'm not accountant and you should consult one.
u.s. irs will only allow you to take a lose for about 3 years.
i do a great deal of self funded travel photography working for at long long term projects (books ready in 2015 and 2017 type projects) and i am afraid of writing anything off abroad.
Mar 23, 2012 9:12 AM
2Be sure that your accountant understands self employment and small business rules and then talk to him or her about your plans and how best to accomplish your goals. Honestly, I am not sure how practical this is and would not expect to be able to fund all your travel this way.
I think writing travel brochures and distributing them to travel agencies is a lousy idea. Too much cost for production and distribution and no income produced. Fewer and fewer travel agencies at which to place such brochures. Think again.
Seems to me some costs aassociated with writing an article for publication should be deductible but again you need to show some income. You can't be losing money all the time.
Mar 23, 2012 10:31 AM
3ewah - Why are you afraid of writing anything off from abroad? If you're already itemizing your taxes and they're legitimate business expenses, you should definitely do it.
I guess I forgot to mention, my friend I spoke with is a tax accountant.
We've had an LLC we've used for various things for quite a few years. I'm pretty savvy deductions, how to file a schedule K, etc. We were audited a few years ago, but we came through with flying colors, with the state actually owing us money. If anything, I just learned more about tax law. Is doing something like this illegal? Absolutely not. Does it fall into a very gray area? Well, doesn't everything in the US tax code fall into a gray area?
Mar 23, 2012 10:50 AM
4Best way for me is to combine the trip with a conference abroad then stay over a few days before and a few days after.
You may be able to deduct the whole thing or just the business part of it depending on the main purpose of the trip, the lenght of it ... the rules are not simple but not overly complex. I strongly suggest that you discuss it with your accountant.
And as always with the IRS: document, document, document!
Mar 23, 2012 10:59 AM
Mar 23, 2012 8:51 PM
Mar 26, 2012 5:55 AM
Mar 29, 2012 10:34 AM
8I have a friend that literally does this exact thing. The key to it though is firm documentation. For example, he is living and writing in China right now. He has an apt and per the US rules, he deducts the rent expense from one of the rooms he uses as his study. Of course he goes out to eat a lot, but only deducts the meals at restaurants where he actually does a firm write up.
He doesn't do your standard writing travel writing like "go here, do this, see this..." but bigger picture stuff. He is shopping books and whatnot to publishers as well as making side income on blogs and "how to" sites etc. He has been doing it for years and the big thing is to not have obscene and ridiculous expenses and be able to back up any expenses that you do claim.
Apr 1, 2012 8:50 AM
9There is no law that says you cannot decide one day to become a travel writer. There is no law that says you cannot invest some money in doing so. Obviously, that would mean going somewhere, writing an article/s and then trying to sell them to a publisher. Whether you sell or not, it is still a legitimate attempt to start a business.
However, the IRS isn't stupid either. To me that means you actually have to try, not just go to Cancun for 2 weeks and then try to write it off as a business expense. So you would need to spend REAL time on the attempt and as noted, document everything. The question then becomes is the amount of effort required worthwhile.
There are travel writer forums you can join and ask your questions but I think you may be surprised just how much time and work an average published travel writer puts in vs. the reward.
To me the question is simple. That is, either you want to legitimately try your hand at some kind of writing or you want to deceive the IRS just for the deductions. If you attempt the first, you can't get into trouble. Attempting the second is probably going to get you into trouble.
As I read your OP, you want the second.
Apr 17, 2012 8:36 PM
10As a professional photographer, I'm able to write off virtually all of my travels, because I can legitimately claim that I'm creating stock images to be sold for editorial or advertising purposes. I don't know if you have any interest in or aptitude for photography, but you can honestly make some money on the side by becoming a contributor to a stock photo agency, such as iStockPhoto, Getty, or even Lonely Planet. It's a nice way to make some passive income, as the agency does all the work promoting and licensing the images, and you just receive a royalty in terms of a periodic check in the mail.
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