2014 Tax Advice: I Do Declare

Not sure what Uncle Sam and the IRS will allow you to write-off? Follow this tax advice to be audited!
Not sure what Uncle Sam and the IRS will allow you to write off? Follow this tax advice to be audited!


By Peter Gerstenzang

Despite the glamorous images you see on television, most musicians have difficult lives. There’s the endless touring, bad food and the drug problem. Nobody knows where to buy them anymore!

Adding to this misery, musicians also have to pay taxes. On things like royalties and session work. To help out, I’ve compiled a list of deductions that might lighten their load. This just in. It’s now okay to write off your therapy. If you can prove your emotional problems stem from anyone shouting “Free Bird” during your show.

Travel – It’s important that we define “travel.” Younger musicians know you can only claim it if you’ve left the house. Guys from the 60s? Just because you found some old Owsley acid in your guitar case and tripped for a week, doesn’t mean anything to the IRS. However, if these ‘journeys’ get scary and Thorazine is involved? I smell medical expense. Just make sure you’re straight when you prepare the tax form. Don’t turn it into an origami bird and throw it through the IRS’s window. It’ll be a disaster. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do.

Reimbursements – Musicians need to report all reimbursements. Which is so time-consuming to obtain, you can actually report this as a reimbursement. Mostly, the form is for such per diems as food and lodging. Meaning, it won’t pertain to working for Prince. I hear it’s impossible to shake a nickel out of that guy. In fact, Morris Day still is trying to get reimbursed for meals he paid for on the Purple Rain tour.

Lodging – It’s okay to write off hotel and motel bills. Just be smart if you have to itemize. Ordering in-room movies is one thing. Telling everyone you watched Naughty Student Nurses can get an entirely different branch of the government on your case. And you’ll be watched closely for months. Again, don’t ask me how I know this. At least, not until my case is dismissed.

Laundry and Dry Cleaning – This is one of the surest way to reduce your taxes. It’s also one of the surest ways to tell everyone you’re a failure. For example, Neil Young does not have his flannel shirt dry-cleaned. Even though he should. He’s been wearing it since Harvest came out.

You can also:
Write Off Demos – An area where Young has again been very cagey. Because of their sound, he’s been able to deduct his last 10 official album releases as ‘demos.’

Write Off Rehearsal Space – Give it a try. But keep in mind how this affected Bob Dylan. He keeps writing off ‘rehearsal.’ And everybody who sees him live calls the IRS, begging them not to allow this deduction. So far, 50,000 cases have been settled out of court.

Tuxedos and Concert Wear – Don’t try this if you play Rock and Roll. Unless you also include a note from your tailor. Or your psychiatrist. Again, don’t ask me how I know this. I just do.