Business Mileage Deduction
Of all the deductions that an artist can take, the business mileage deduction is probably the most valuable and sometimes overlooked deduction out there. While you can also deduct car expenses by keeping track of the amount of money spent on gas, repairs, and maintenance, it is almost always more beneficial to take a mileage deduction. I will show you here when you can take a mileage deduction, how much each mile is worth, and when you CANNOT take a mileage deduction.
Remember, you can only use this deduction for miles driven using YOUR personal vehicle.
For the 2017 tax year, the rate for business miles is 53.5 cents per mile. Please remember that the mileage rates change from year to year.
Remember to keep union/employee related miles separate from non-union/independent contractor miles.
Don't forget to record the amount of miles on your vehicle's odometer at the beginning of each year because it is needed on your tax form.
How much can I deduct?
As an artist, you can deduct mileage for so many things. Driving to auditions, callbacks, classes, shows and films with a specific research purpose, headshot photo sessions, and going to the store to buy equipment or supplies (including paper for resumes) are all scenarios where you can deduct the miles you drive.
However, when it comes to mileage driven with the purpose of getting to and from a rehearsal, performance, film shoot, or other job that you have been hired for, things get a little more complicated.
If you are doing a show, film, or job where you are NOT getting paid, then you can deduct all the miles you drive to get to and from rehearsals, performances, or shoots.
However, if you are doing a show, film, or job where you ARE getting paid, then the miles driven to rehearsals, performances, or shoots are generally considered to be commuting mileage. Commuting mileage CANNOT be deducted. However there are some exceptions to this rule. Three of them are listed below.
1. You are driving directly to the rehearsal, shoot, job, or performance from another job
Example: If you work at Wells Fargo from 9:00am to 5:00pm and then drive directly to a rehearsal that starts at 6:00 pm, you can deduct ONLY the miles you drove from Wells Fargo to your rehearsal.
2. You are traveling to do a show, shoot, or job that requires you to spend the night outside of the general area where you live and ordinarily work
Example: If you live and work regularly in Minneapolis and then travel to Bemidji in order to do a show for 3 weeks, you can deduct the miles you drove to get there, the miles you drove to get back home, and the miles you drove to get to and from rehearsals and performances during the 3 weeks you were in Bemidji.
3. You are driving to do a show, shoot, or job that is outside of the metropolitan area of where you live and ordinarily work, AND the job is expected to last less than a year.
Example: If you live and ordinarily work in Minneapolis, and you direct a show at a high school near St. Cloud, and the job is only supposed to last for one school year, you can deduct all the miles you drove to get to and from rehearsals and performances. Please note: The IRS does not specifically define "metropolitan area." I would not recommend taking this deduction unless you are traveling at least 30 miles one way.