The Yoga Teacher's Guide to Tax Deductions

The Yoga Teacher’s Guide to Tax Deductions

Every year, in the dead of winter, it creeps up on us. Regardless of how much you try to get away from it… there’s no escaping. Yes, I’m talking about tax season.

Before you cringe and close your browser tab, keep reading. I’ve done my best to compile a complete tax guide for yoga teachers in the USA.

Please note: I am not a tax expert and I am certainly not an accountant. Check with your accountant with any tax-related questions.

The Ultimate Guide to Yoga Teacher Tax Deductions

There are a few things you need to do before getting started on tax write-offs for your yoga career.

Step 1: Determine your type of employment:

  • Do you get paid on an hourly or per-class basis, travel from studio to studio, and supply your own expenses (props, mat, music, etc)? Does your studio not withhold any taxes from your hourly rate? If so, you’re most likely an independent contractor.
    • Independent Contractors submit the 1099 form (schedule C)
  • If you teach to the studio’s requirements, rely on the studio’s props, and your studio withholds taxes from your paycheck, you are probably an employee of that studio.
    • Employees submit W2 forms sent from employer (only if you earned more than $600 that year)
  • ….If you’re still not sure, most yoga teachers are hired as independent contractor, but ask your studio owner to be sure.


The difference here is key – if you are an independent contractor, you are eligible for tax deductions!

Keep in mind, you may be employed differently at different studios (for example, one of the studios I teach at considers me an employee and deducts tax from each paycheck; the other studio pays me in cash per class).

 

Step 2: Take careful notes while tracking the following:

    • How many classes you teach at each studio?
    • What you get paid per class?
    • Mileage driving to and from studios?
    • Expenses you can write off:
      1. Yoga clothing
      2. Yoga gear (mats, blocks, etc)
      3. Training
      4. Liability insurance, CPR training, etc.
      5. Workshops and continuing education
      6. Spotify or your music subscription

Then, organize your expenses:

    • Keep receipts, pay stubs, and checks you’ve deposited. Keep all of this information in some sort of filing system, organized by month. A manilla folder works fine). You’ll thank yourself later.
    • Create an excel spreadsheet in January (do not wait until April!). Track money that flows in (excluding your employee income) and track your expenses. This will help when you fill out Schedule C (especially since you have all of your receipts in your file folder).

Now that we’ve covered if you’re qualified and how to organize your expenses, let’s jump into the tax details…

Step 3: Understanding the details of your tax write offs

Necessary Expenses

If you are an independent contractor, you can deduct any necessary expenses from your taxable income. According to the IRS, to be deductible, a “business expense” must be “both ordinary and necessary” – AKA common in your industry and helpful for your business.

Examples of tax write-offs for yoga teachers:

    • Props and mats
    • Mileage to get to and from your place of employment
    • All expenses related to your website and marketing
    • Spotify monthly membership
    • Yoga clothing – take note: fancy Lululemon and Outdoor Voices leggings probably won’t qualify 🙁

And anything else that is necessary to operate your business.

Dues and Publications

Dues and publications can often be deducted because they contribute to maintaining status in the industry and continuing education. Examples are your yearly membership dues for Yoga Alliance or a monthly subscription to Yoga Journal.

Insurance

If you are required to purchase Liability Insurance or go through a CPR course, these can be written off as well.

Continuing Education

Thinking of going through another teacher training? Write it off! As long as you’re teaching at a studio as an independent contractor, teacher training programs and workshops can be considered continuing education. That’s pretty awesome, right?

“Office” Space

Using your home as a studio: if you teach yoga from your home, you can deduct percentages of rent, utilities, home insurance, and anything that relates to using your home as a business.

Yoga Teacher Tax Write-Offs

Other tax tips for independent yoga instructors:

  • Consider opening a business bank account. This will help keep your personal and professional expenses separate.
  • Consult with a tax professional. This article is a great starting point for tax deductions for yoga teachers (or any fitness professional). However, it’s always a good idea to talk to the experts!

 

Additional Resources:

 

 

Have you ever written off your yoga teaching costs? If so, what issues did you run into? Do you have any other tips?

Happy tax season! (lol)

Love + Light,
Kim

4 Responses

  1. Shiva
    Shiva at |

    It is very questionable that yoga teachers can write off yoga clothing. Yoga clothing is generally considered streetwear and clothing that you can write off is very restricted. “Work clothes and uniforms if required and not suitable for everyday use.” It would be hard to argue today that all yoga clothes are not suitable for everyday use. “It isn’t enough that you wear distinctive clothing. The clothing must be specifically required by your employer. Nor is it enough that you don’t, in fact, wear your work clothes away from work. The clothing must not be suitable for taking the place of your regular clothing.

    Examples of workers who may be able to deduct the cost and upkeep of work clothes are: delivery workers, firefighters, health care workers, law enforcement officers, letter carriers, professional athletes, and transportation workers (air, rail, bus, etc.).

    Musicians and entertainers can deduct the cost of theatrical clothing and accessories that aren’t suitable for everyday wear.

    However, work clothing consisting of white cap, white shirt or white jacket, white bib overalls, and standard work shoes, which a painter is required by his union to wear on the job, isn’t distinctive in character or in the nature of a uniform. Similarly, the costs of buying and maintaining blue work clothes worn by a welder at the request of a foreman aren’t deductible. ” You can see how they determine it here: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p529/ar02.html

    Reply
    1. Brandon
      Brandon at |

      Hey Shiva,
      Thanks for your insight here! Sounds like something you have dealt with personally. I will look into the IRS link you provided and update the article as needed.

      Brandon

      Reply
  2. Daniela Guillen
    Daniela Guillen at |

    Hi! How about a yoga membership? I teach but also belong to a yoga studio… I think this is also continuing education , eh?

    Reply
    1. Brandon
      Brandon at |

      I am not a tax expert, but as far as I understand that would count as continuing ed! Good thinking.

      Reply

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