Journalists have an important job in reporting the current events and other newsworthy stories to the public. When it comes time for taxes, it’s important for those who work as a journalist or media professional to know what to expect. You will receive a Form W-2 from your employer which will document the amount you earned and any tax withholdings. If you freelance, you are considered self-employed. Self-employed taxpayers have to report income on Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business.
Self-employed individuals will not receive a Form W-2, but should instead expect a Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, which will show the amounts paid from the sender of the form. Net earnings over $400 require you to file a tax return and pay self-employment tax on all income reported on Schedule C. You may have to make quarterly estimated tax payments to cover the self-employment tax you are liable for.
You can reduce your taxes by claiming work related expenses as deductions. Any unreimbursed expenses relating to your job can be deducted on a Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, or Schedule C in the case of self-employed individuals. You’ll be required to keep receipts which serve as proof of your expenses. You can deduct costs associated with:
- Production of business cards, resumes, and portfolios, as well as technical expenses such as website development and computer software.
- Payments to others for services such as personal assistant, information sources, or attorney advice.
- Travel for business purposes, such as meetings, seminars, assignments, job searches and interviews you are required to conduct.
- Continuing education.
- Subscriptions to professional magazines and trade publications
- Union dues, licensing fees, and business gifts.
- The use of a home office (subject to regular home-office deduction rules).
Media professionals who appear on-air are generally required to maintain a specific appearance. In these cases, the expenses incurred are considered personal, as opposed to work-related, because the benefit of the services is inherently personal. Due to this, no deduction is allowed for personal expenses relating to upkeep of a specific appearance, such as clothing, makeup, hair, or fitness.