If you’re a personal trainer, then chances are you have a lot of deductions at your disposal when you go to file your taxes. Self-employed personal trainers are able to deduct more expenses than a personal trainer who is an employee, because more of the daily operating costs of doing business typically fall squarely on their own shoulders. However, employee personal trainers can also take advantage of some unreimbursed business expenses to help lower their tax burden if they itemize through tax years 2017. Personal trainer tax deductions directly reduce the amount of taxable income you have, which in turn lowers how much taxes you might owe Uncle Sam come tax time, so it is a good idea to find out what you can use as a tax write off.
Depending upon your status as either self-employed or employee, you will likely be able to take advantage of a number of specific tax deduction opportunities for your work as a personal trainer.
Unreimbursed Business Expenses
For tax years prior to 2018, employees were able to deduct unreimbursed employee expenses that exceeded 2 percent of their adjusted gross income, or AGI. However, with the implementation of recent tax reforms officially known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA, employees are no longer able to deduct miscellaneous expenses such as mileage or marketing for years 2018 through 2025. Self-employed contractors, on the other hand, may still do so.
For tax years 2017 and prior, employees are able to write off some of the same business-related expenses as independent contractors can, as long as these expenses are not reimbursed by their company. In order to deduct your unreimbursed business expenses, first you must itemize your deductions when you go to file taxes. If your itemized deductions, including your unreimbursed business expenses, are less than your standard deduction, it would make more sense for you to take the standard deduction. You can deduct these miscellaneous itemized deductions for tax year 2017 and prior on Schedule A (Form 1040 or Form 1040NR) as long as these expenses are more than 2 percent of your AGI. IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions, as well as IRS Topic Number 514, Employee Business Expenses, provide more guidance on which business expenses you can deduct, and how to go about doing so.
Important Marketing Deductions
Marketing yourself is vital to your success in any field. You need your clients to be able to find you beyond word of mouth. This is where deducting your marketing costs factor in. You can deduct any costs related to marketing yourself, such as business cards, promotional flyers, website design, radio and television ads or billboards.
Deducting Gas and Mileage
The IRS has very specific rules for how you claim your gas mileage as a deduction on your taxes. You can deduct the cost of gas and oil required to get to and from the gym or a client’s house. In order to deduct these costs, you must keep meticulous records of the driving you do for work. Keep receipts for oil changes and fuel you purchase, and the percentage of time you use your car for this purpose is the amount you’re able to deduct. If keeping track of these records seems overwhelming, the IRS allows you to deduct a flat 53.5 cents per mile for tax year 2017 and 54.5 cents per mile for 2018, but you still are required to keep track of when you use your car for work. However, only self-employed personal trainers may take these deductions for years 2018 through 2025. Employee personal trainers may still take these deductions for tax year 2017 and prior.
Home Office Deductions
If you use a portion of your home to train clients instead of renting gym space for personal training, you might be able to write it off on your taxes. As to be expected with the IRS, strict criteria must be met in order for a portion of your home to be eligible for the home office deduction. Your home office must be where you conduct administrative and routine work needed for the daily upkeep and maintenance of your business. This space cannot be dual-use and must be dedicated solely to work. However, you do not need to use an entire room for your home office to be considered an office space.
If you partition or otherwise section off a portion of a larger room, and use it exclusively to conduct business, then you can take the home office deduction. There are two ways for you to calculate the home office deduction. You can either use the business percentage or the simplified square foot calculation to determine how much of your entire home you can claim as your home office space. A quick stop by the IRS’ website will provide more information, such as how to calculate your home office deduction, or which forms you need to file.
Deductible Travel Expenses
Any travel you need to do as an independent contractor for your business can be tax deductible. This includes lodging, travel accommodations, meals, transportation and even entertaining clients. Deducting travel expenses is another area of your business where you want to keep exact records of the expenses you incurred. Dates, receipts, purpose of travel as well as any other supporting documentation is needed to keep you in compliance and ready should the IRS take a closer look at your return. IRS Tax Topic 511, Business Travel Expenses, details everything you need to know regarding these deductions and how to claim them.
Continuing Education Courses
As a personal trainer, you know the importance of staying current in the world of fitness and nutrition. Many of these self-employed personal trainer expenses including continuing education courses, certifications, conferences you have to attend and trade organizations you belong to, are tax-deductible. If these are needed in order to progress you in your career, then you can write them off. It’s best to consult with a qualified tax professional for more advice and guidance on which personal trainer tax deductions you qualify for.
- National Federation of Personal Trainers: Tax Write Offs For Personal Trainers
- IRS: Deducting Business Expenses
- IRS: FAQs - Simplified Method for Home Office Deduction
- IRS: Law change affects moving, mileage and travel expenses
- IRS: Topic Number 513 - Work-Related Education Expenses
- IRS: Topic Number 514 - Employee Business Expenses
- IRS: Publication 529 (2017), Miscellaneous Deductions
- Forbes: What Your Itemized Deductions On Schedule A Will Look Like After Tax Reform
- H & R Block: Can I deduct unreimbursed employee expenses?
Tara Thomas is a Los Angeles-based writer and avid world traveler. Her articles appear in various online publications, including Sapling, PocketSense, Zacks, Livestrong, Modern Mom and SF Gate. Thomas has a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach and spent 10 years as a mortgage consultant.