Millions of people enjoy having hobbies — whether it’s photography, antiquing, craft making, collecting coins, or breeding horses. It usually costs money to support a hobby, but in some cases, your hobby can also make you money.
If you have a hobby that is also a source of income, you’re required to report the income on your Federal tax return. In order to properly report your income and expenses to the IRS, you must ascertain whether the activity is classified as a hobby or a business.
This article explains the IRS rules for determining if an activity qualifies as a business, and what restrictions apply if the activity is not a business.
Hobby vs. Business
For tax purposes, a hobby is defined as an activity that you engage in “for sport or recreation, not to make a profit.” Even if you earn occasional income from doing such an activity, the primary purpose must be something other than making a profit.
To distinguish between a hobby and a business, you must take into account all the facts and circumstances of your situation. The IRS lays out the following 9 factors that should be considered when establishing if an activity is a business engaged in making a profit:
Tax Deductions for Hobby Expenses
In general, you are allowed to deduct ordinary and necessary hobby expenses (with certain limitations). An “ordinary” expense is one that’s considered common and accepted for the activity. A “necessary” expense is one that’s considered helpful and appropriate for the activity.
Since a hobby is not a business, hobbyists are not entitled to the same tax deductions that businesspeople can claim. As a hobbyist, you can usually deduct your hobby expenses up to the amount of your hobby income. But any expenses that exceed your hobby income are considered personal losses and are not deductible from your other income.