IRS Offers Tax Tips for Income Producing Hobbies

Making money from your favorite hobby, such as stamp or coin collecting, craft making, or horse breeding? Any income earned from a hobby activity must be reported on your annual federal income tax return, however, the way hobby income is reported is different than reporting business income and there are particular rules and limits for deductions. Five basic tips to know if your hobby produces income:

1. Business versus Hobby. A key feature of a business is that you do the activity to make a profit. This differs from a hobby that you may do for sport or recreation. There are nine factors to consider when you determine if you do the activity to make a profit. Make sure you base your decision on all the facts and circumstances of your situation.

  1. Allowable Hobby Deductions. You may be able to deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted for the activity. A necessary expense is one that is helpful or appropriate.
  2. Limits on Expenses. As a general rule, you can only deduct your hobby expenses up to the amount of your hobby income. If your expenses are more than your income, you have a loss from the activity. You can't deduct that loss from your other income.
  3. How to Deduct Expenses. You must itemize deductions on your tax return in order to deduct hobby expenses. Your costs may fall into three types of expenses. Special rules apply to each type.
  4. Use IRS Free File. Hobby rules can be complex. IRS Free File can make filing your tax return easier. IRS Free File is available until Oct. 15. If you make $60,000 or less, you can use brand-name tax software. If you earn more, you can use Free File Fillable Forms, an electronic version of IRS paper forms. You can only access Free File through IRS.gov.

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