is it a hobby or a business?

Is It a Hobby or a Business?

Is your company a business, or is it still just a hobby? The IRS has strict guidelines about what activities constitute a business. Whether you’re a business will have an impact on your taxes at the end of the year.

Do you plan to make a profit?

The IRS usually considers whatever you’re doing as a business if you intend and expect to turn a profit. You can figure out if the IRS will treat you as a business by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do I treat the activity as a business and keep detailed and accurate books and records?
  • Do my time and effort invested indicate that I plan to make a profit?
  • Do I need the endeavor’s income to support my lifestyle?
  • Are losses due to circumstances beyond my control?
  • Are the losses incurred normal in the startup phase of my industry?
  • Have I tried to improve profitability by changing my methods of operation?
  • Do my advisors or I have the necessary knowledge to carry on this activity as a successful business?
  • Did I make a profit doing something similar in the past?
  • Has the endeavor made a profit in some years?
  • Do I expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used?

If you answered “yes” to most of those questions, then the IRS will likely treat your activity as a business.

If your sales are slow right now, and you’re still trying to grow your business, don’t worry. You could still be treated like a business – be sure to do a few things to show the IRS you’re trying to turn a profit:

  • Charge a price that covers your costs with some cash leftover
  • Keep accurate and extensive records of your business costs and pricing
  • Create a written business plan to show your intent to turn a profit and outline ways you plan on adjusting the business plan to cope with any losses
  • Regularly market your business, online and/or locally

Does it matter if my activity is a business or a hobby?

As a business, you can deduct all ordinary and necessary expenses incurred from conducting your business. An ordinary expense is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is appropriate for your industry. Read also: 4 Tax Deductions You Don’t Want to Miss

As a hobby, you can generally only deduct expenses up to the amount of income your hobby brought in. So, for example, if you bought $1,500 worth of equipment for your hobby, but only sold two things at $50 each, you could only deduct $100. As a hobby, you also cannot deduct any losses incurred from other income.