2009 Taxes for Fair and Festival Vendors

December 2009
Getting and keeping your receipts in order will save you time later.

Photo by Matt AielloPhoto by Matt Aiello

Let’s face it. No one likes to deal with taxes. The whole idea of the government taking part of your hard-earned money is annoying, even if you know that it’s necessary. As a self-employed arts and crafts or food vendor, your tax debacle each year is even more interesting and twisted. There are a few ways that you can keep your taxes straight, though, which will help you out at the end of the year.

First off, record everything. Yes, every single little thing that you spend money on or make money from needs to be written down. And we’re not just talking receipts stuffed into a drawer somewhere. This will be much, much easier for you if you keep an updated spreadsheet of all your expenses and income.

The easiest thing to do is to split your business expenses into categories such as insurance, supplies, transportation, etc. You’ll be able to write off a portion of some expenses and not of others, so having them already itemized will be very helpful. Don’t forget to track even the smallest expenses, like the two dollar a month charge the bank puts on your business credit card to keep the account open. No matter how insignificant something may seem, it will still help you to have it written down.

Don’t forget to record your income, as well. This includes not only income from people who buy your work directly but also income from grants or fellowships for which you’ve applied, artists’ stipends, commissions, etc. Plus, you’ll have to keep track of the sales tax you collect for all of your items.

Obviously calculating sales tax is another one of those annoying necessaries. Before you sell anything in any state, be sure that you know what that state’s sales tax is, as it will differ from state to state. To figure out how to calculate sales tax, get on your state’s business department website or call that department.

Finally, when it comes time to do your taxes, make sure that you or your tax preparer don’t miss any deductions. As long as you are making money from your craft or food sales, you will pretty much be considered a business. As long as you’re a business, necessary business expenses such as travel, vehicle repairs, fees from your accountant, business rent, supplies, etc. will be tax write-offs, and you can’t afford to miss out on a single one of them! So, track all of your expenses and income, and take every write-off that you can.


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