Taxes for USA-based musicians: how to file, when to claim income, and what expenses to deduct

Tax advice for DIY musicians.

As an independent musician in the United States you’ve probably asked yourself the following questions about filing your taxes:

  • What royalties should I claim as income on my taxes?
  • Is my musical pursuit a “business” or “hobby” in the eyes of the IRS?
  • What expenses can I deduct?
  • How do I make sure I don’t take the tax hit for income I shared with bandmates, booking agents, and managers?
  • Should I be a sole proprietor, LLC, or S-corporation?

In this episode of CD Baby’s DIY Musician Live, I ask the punk-rock tax-professional Tessa Tax all these questions and more. Check out the video above if you need some general guidance about how to file your taxes as a self-employed musician, and what you should claim as both income and qualified business expenses.

Links mentioned in the video:

  1. Tessa’s website
  2. The pre-save campaign for my song “Collapsing Star”
  3. Music promotion tools — (IMPORTANT: if you’re a CD Baby client, you can create a FREE Show.co account by going to your CD Baby members dashboard)
  4. Discounts on worldwide distribution
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