Can I Deduct These Trips?
December 22, 2014 5:00 PM   Subscribe

Self employed person who blogs (money generating and part of the business) about a personal hobby considering a trip related to the hobby, wondering if you can consider it a business expense and tax deductible, or how to figure it out.

I have set up a business for myself and I do a lot of odd jobs related to internet marketing. One part of my job involves blogging about a personal hobby. I've grown this blog to have a pretty big following and I have been able to make a decent amount of money from the blog doing this, and I also get free items sent to me for review. It's awesome! But I have a question.

Usually if I buy something, say a DVD or book or object related to this hobby, I will deduct it and buy it with the business account and then write a review of it. I can often put up affiliate links to the product in the article as well, however the value also lies in drawing traffic and readers to the blog, where I also make money from advertising. These are often small items and I'm not worried about it.

The question comes in where I want to take a trip entirely related to the hobby and perhaps deduct some or all of the travel expenses by writing about this trip and documenting it for the blog. The trip would combine personal (because I want to go on the trip) and business (by writing several articles about it).

It would be something like a travel magazine sending someone to review a resort.

It's an oddball question because this hobby is part of my job but also my personal hobby.

The trip would be 11 days out of the country. I noticed that at this website it says:

"If you travel outside the U.S. for more than a week, your trip can be considered entirely for business, even if you combine business and personal activities."

Obviously I can ask my accountant but they are off for the holidays and I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this.
posted by christiehawk to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are so many more details to know. Most importantly, how relevant is your hobby to your job? Is it actually part of your job, and you're just calling it a hobby because you really like it?

For instance, I write a personal blog about whatever tangential general business/leadership issues I feel like, but I also happen to use those blog posts as business marketing for providing very specific business services to show the "insider perspective" on the leadership of the company. I definitely consider all expenses related to that blog to be business expenses.

Or is this more like consulting on financial strategy and also writing a blog about pigs, and wanting to write off expenses related to visiting a pig farm? Stuff for you to think about.

Also the IRS has very specific rules on what it considers a hobby, and also on what international travel expenses are deductible- you should definitely look up both of those. I have explanations of them in a book called something like "home-based business tax deductions," but you can also find the specific IRS publications pretty easily.
posted by cacao at 5:23 PM on December 22, 2014

I am unsure of the answer to this specific question, but I would be very skeptical about any information from - it might be right, but you need to verify it. The article links to the relevant IRS publication, which states:

Exception 2 - Outside United States no more than a week. Your trip is considered entirely for business if you were outside the United States for a week or less, combining business and nonbusiness activities. One week means 7 consecutive days. In counting the days, do not count the day you leave the United States, but do count the day you return to the United States.

So, it looks like the article may have that specific issue wrong.

In any case, the tax laws about writing off business expenses are fairly complicated. If it were me, I'd wait until my accountant was back & ask, but if you want to figure it out yourself, I'd at least go to the source (IRS publications) and not rely on anything you read online from a non-government site.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:32 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

You should ask your accountant, but IME yes, this is totally legit, as long as you meet whatever requirements your accountant says make reasonable sense for your business. I do this, most of the self-employed people I know also do this, but the rules are specific. The fact that you personally would like to travel doesn't mean it's not a business trip. So again, go talk to your accountant.

I travel to produce content for an online blog as well, and even though it's not a major part of my business (revenue wise) it does bring in a lot of attention from clients. I talked to my accountant, go talk to yours.
posted by bradbane at 7:04 PM on December 22, 2014

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