Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Some Not-So-Helpful Tax Tips for Music Teachers

Tax day is coming soon!

Does that sentence fill you with dread?

Or are you lucky enough to be one of those music teachers who has all of your receipts in perfectly organized envelopes, a well-filled-out mileage tracking notebook in the glovebox of your car, and a tax accountant on hand to answer any tricky tax questions?

If, indeed, you are one of these blessed souls, can I come watch how you work? Can I adopt your systems? Because here is how tax season works at my house.

I finally decide I can’t ignore the monster any longer. I must get moving. Tax day is just around the corner.

Then I procrastinate.

I decide to get moving again.

And then I procrastinate.

Finally, I can’t procrastinate any longer. I must gather all of my information and get working on my taxes or I will be filing late!

So then I procrastinate again.

Once I actually get started, I figure out why I’ve procrastinated: because my receipts are in any of a dozen locations which are paperlogged with everything else from my four-childrened life, and in order to find my business receipts, I must face the Mount Everests of math papers, cute little five-year-old pictures of reindeers, life insurance premium papers, cell phone bills, and OH, there’s that receipt from Bountiful Music!

Sigh.

I’ll be honest. I have been doing my own taxes for more than twenty years, and every year I seem to be less organized. The tips I have to offer you from my OWN experience are few. I am often asked why I don’t have an accountant do my taxes. My answer? I can plug numbers into a computer program. It’s the gathering of all the information I’d have to give to a tax professional that is my problem.

Again, sigh.

 

So here are my tips to being disorganized and miserable at tax time:

  • Do not choose one spot for all of your receipts to be collected in your studio. Instead, allow them to collect wherever you throw your latest paper pile.
  • Do not track your mileage during the year.
  • Pretend tax season will never come again so you don’t make changes that will help make your future tax times brighter and more manageable.

I think pretty much that covers it, except for the biggest tip I can give you to making tax time hair-pullingly terrible:

  • Do not use Music Teachers Helper to record income, expenses and mileage.

I am turning over a new leaf. Rather than just using MTH for my invoicing and recording of payments, I’m going to tap into all of its great resources by designating an office hour per week for just upkeep of my financial information. If I get done in less than an hour? Bonus time: I’ll practice!

(One actual tip I have for you: Be very careful about a home office deduction. I actually did consult a tax lawyer about this one. The exclusions for home office use are many and complicated. What I discovered was that if I used my studio for even one day a year for something not exclusively business, I could not deduct its use. Because I am a far far cry from a tax pro, though, I would encourage you to speak to someone about your specific case.)

If you’re dying for more tax day reading fun, here are a few wonderful links for you:

10 Tax Savings Tips for Private Music Teachers

Tax Tips for Musicians

Do you have any helpful tax advice for us? Share below!

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3 Comments

  1. Yiyi

    This was so fun to read! I can totally relate!

  2. Jacob Morrison

    Yeah I really need to start recording mileage….

    Tip for receipts: put them into an accordion file, each months receipts in a different section.

  3. Phil

    I keep track of the finances for my wife’s music studio, and I’ve found that keeping a spreadsheet of expenses that I update at least monthly helps a lot. We also use Square for payments, which makes it easy to download all of her income for the month in one handy file.

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