taxfilter: digital camera vs. film camera
March 7, 2005 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Can my mother, a corporate travel agent, deduct the cost of her digital camera (as a unreimbursed work expense) since she is no longer deducting film & processing costs?

My mother is a travel agent and works for a large international bank doing some corporate and other related arrangements for executives and staff of the bank. In previous years, she had deducted the cost of film and processing, as the vast majority of her photography is of her own travels - scouting hotels, airlines, tour providers etc. for her clients at the bank. She then uses these photographs to help the clients plan their travel. This past year, she bought a digital camera and 2x 256 meg compact flash cards. Since she can no longer deduct film & processing, may she deduct the cards, the camera or both? Probably 50-75% of the use of the camera is professional, and is not reimbursed by her employer.
posted by luriete to Work & Money (2 answers total)
Best answer: IIRC, a digital camera (because it is lumped in with computer equipment) is classified by the IRS as "listed property."
Because of this it's subject to much closer scrutiny than normal property. It would have to be used for at least 50% business (with proof available) and it's use would have to be a required part of her job.

If that's all good, she should be able to deduct the business percentage either as 5 year property, or all at once as a section 179 deduction.

Personally, since this seems like a major IRS red flag, I would forget the camera and buy a separate work-only media card, and deduct that. Otherwise you're stuck keeping records like "May 5, 20 pics of hotel for work, May 10, 15 pics of Bobby's birthday party" etc. What a pain!
posted by Kellydamnit at 12:31 PM on March 7, 2005

Would this not depend on the total value of the equipment? Some digital cameras are not so expensive, so could be expensed completely in the year purchased. At least this was the case when I learned tax rules, long before digital cameras came around.
posted by Goofyy at 8:45 PM on March 7, 2005

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