Now We’re Talking: Tax Tips for Public Speakers

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Do you run your mouth – but in a professional way as a public speaker?

If so, we’d like to recognize all those who spread positive messages with the spoken word in honor of Professional Speakers Day. These tax tips for public speakers can save you money:

Consider establishing a formal business entity.

If your public speaking work is done under a sole proprietorship, consider setting up a formal business entity like an LLC, an S corp, or a C corp. Not only will this give you added credibility, but also it will open the door to more IRS tax savings. Plus, it can help you separate your personal and business finances and activities.

Don’t forget about estimated taxes.

You must file quarterly estimated taxes, whether your public speaking work is conducted as a 1099 independent contractor or is done under a formal business like an LLC, S corporation, or C corporation. Estimated tax deadlines are January 15th, April 15th, June 15th, and September 15th.

Carefully document the locations of your speaking engagements.

Keep close tabs on exactly where you are doing business as a public speaker. Traveling to different cities, states, and even countries can be a significant part of being a public speaker who talks to a variety of groups. In these cases, you might be on the hook for filing additional state income tax returns based on where you earn income as a speaker each year. If you travel abroad, there could be unique income tax requirements as well.

Save your receipts.

You might not have a huge mound of receipts piling up in your closet as a public speaker. But if you get receipts for any business expenses you incur to conduct your trade, be sure to document and save all of them. Receipts help small business owners provide to the IRS that they’re indeed eligible for business tax deductions on relevant expenses.

Use the vehicle deduction

Mileage for driving to speaking engagements can be one of the top expenses for public speakers who frequently travel by car.

Maintain a mileage log for your speaking-related business trips to fully document this information. You can claim either mileage (57.5 cents per mile) or actual expenses (gas, tolls, insurance, maintenance, etc.) as a write-off on your income tax return.

Claim other travel deductions.

Many professional speakers travel regionally, nationally, or even abroad. These trips can certainly take a bite out of your budget. You can deduct airfare, lodging, rental cars, cab fares, and any other expenses related to traveling in order to conduct your trade as a public speaker.

Claim any additional tax deductions for public speakers.

As a self-employed public speaker, you can write off a number of business expenses when filing your taxes. These include

  •  Office supplies, i.e. pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, scissors, stamps, paperclips
  • Equipment, i.e. desktop computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, land lines, printers, fax machines, copy machines
  • Rent and utilities of a separate office space
  • Home office expenses, including power, water, Internet access, home phone service for business purposes
  • Meals and entertainment, i.e. restaurant bills, sporting events (only 50% deductible – and only when business is discussed before, during, or right after the meal or event)
  • Subscriptions to relevant publications for public speakers, i.e. magazines, journals, newsletters, online websites
  • Fees for accounting, legal, and other professional service providers
  • Marketing/advertising expenses

Handle “miscellaneous deductions” with care.

Avoid listing a significant amount of expenses under “miscellaneous deductions” on your income tax return. This could be a red flag that you do not have the proper documentation on file to prove these write-offs to the IRS.

more tax tips for public speakers – and for all other professions – by teaming up with the business accounting professionals at 1-800Accountant. Call 1-800-222-6868 or visit

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