Smile, Entrepreneurs: Tax Tips to Save You Money

Hello, sister entrepreneurs. Are you working on your taxes like me? I’m no accountant, but let me tell you about a cool tax feature for self-employed people that I learned about.

Thai Massage in action in Toronto

Continuing Education: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Maybe this happened to you. Last fall, I looked into taking a weekend training course on Thai Massage, which would have certified me to use touch to improve my clients’ stretches.

This could have been really helpful, because sometimes clients struggle to parse verbal directions about muscles and joints they’re not familiar with.

Me: “Okay, good start. Now drop your lats. Round through your sacrum a bit more. We want to straighten out your cervical spine a little here.”

Client: [Blank stare of confusion]

Following movement directions without any physical guidance can be tricky. It would be really helpful to be able to press a hand into their shoulder blade or align their spine manually. But I was like, “Hmm, the course is $400. Can I justify that? I mean, I’m a small–emphasis on small–business owner, not a billionaire. I don’t want to incur expenses for anything that’s not strictly necessary.”

Now here I am, a couple months later, preparing my taxes. I realized that because of this deduction, I would have paid my $400 as an upfront cost, taken the course, and then gotten a $400 “discount,” you could say, on my owed taxes. So I basically would have gotten reimbursed, plus I’d be able to improve my clients’ experiences with Thai Massage.

Dang.

So look around–is there a course out there that could help you improve your skills in 2020? You could be thanking yourself next spring.

And for those of you who did take on professional training in 2019, the IRS has a handy little interactive questionnaire that helps you see if your continuing education costs are deductible. You can also use this to see if courses you have in mind for the future would qualify.

Other Benefits
This article has a good summary of deductions available to the self-employed tax filer. For example, I found it was a lot easier than I expected to calculate my mileage, and for ten minutes’ of work, I saved a nice little chunk off my taxes. Maybe you will, too.