Tax Deduction for Bloggers and Social Media Influencers

Writing a lifestyle blog is a great way to build influence and followers on social media. Whether you’re blogging about food, travel, health or beauty, there may be things you can claim as a tax deduction.

Lifestyle blogging is a relatively new profession, so as yet, there is very little guidance on offer from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). To bridge this gap, we can apply existing tax law to the types of expenses bloggers incur. From that, we can produce a list of things you can claim and a list of things you almost certainly (sadly) cannot claim.

Firstly, you need to be blogging as a business, rather than a hobby. This means regularly earning money from your blogging, either in direct fees or sponsorships from companies about whom you blog. Your income can also take the form of subscriptions from readers if you operate on a pay per view model. If this is the case, you can claim deductions for the costs you incur as part of your blogging. In contrast, if you’re putting your thoughts out to the world without making any money, you’re not eligible to claim any deductions at all.

So, let’s focus on the good news and look at the types of expenses you can claim if you have a blogging business:

Internet costs

You can claim your internet-related expenses, including hosting fees for your blog, domain name registration fees, blogging software fees and image or music downloads for your blog. You can also claim a proportion of your home internet costs if you run your blogging business from home. If you work from a dedicated office away from home, you can claim all your internet costs.

Computer equipment

Assuming you’re a self-employed blogger, until 30 June 2019, you can claim an immediate tax deduction for any business-related item of capital equipment you purchase of less than $20,000. This includes your computer or laptop, wireless router, keyboard, mouse, monitor, webcam and digital camera. From 1 July 2019, the cost threshold falls to $1,000 per item – still enough for most bloggers to claim many of the items listed above.

Office expenses

If you run your blogging business from your dedicated office at home, you can claim part of the rent or mortgage interest on your home as a tax deduction. Make sure you claim an appropriate proportion compared to the overall size of the property as this is an area the ATO looks at closely. You can also deduct a portion of your household bills for that space if you use it to conduct your blogging business. This could include a proportion of your electricity, water and gas.

Communications-related expenses

You can claim for a business-related landline and  mobile phone calls, as well as a proportion of the cost of the mobile phone itself.

Office equipment

Using the $20,000 instant asset write-off (see computer equipment above), you will also be able to claim items of office furniture such as your desk, chairs and filing cabinets.

Office supplies and stationery

All the items of stationery and office consumables you use in your blogging business are claimable, including business cards and letterheads.

Advertising, promotion and design

A key to getting your blogging brand out there is to invest in cutting-edge design and promotion. This is why you’re able to claim branding-related costs including blog design, advertising, logo design, promotional giveaways and search engine optimisation services.

Other expenses

There’s an array of other costs you might be able to claim. These include the cost of reusing photos or images owned by other entities and the cost of employing a professional photographer to create headshots for your blog and promotion. You can also claim the cost of employing an accountant to prepare your tax return or give you tax advice.

Expenses you can’t claim

As a general rule, expenses incurred in earning your assessable income are deductible excluding anything with a private or domestic purpose. More often than not, travel bloggers can’t claim their overseas journeys, food bloggers can’t claim their meals and health bloggers can’t claim their gym membership. The ATO will almost certainly say no to all of these because despite the costs being incurred in your blogging activity, they’re mainly private or domestic in nature.

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