Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Guest Post: When Does a Hobby Become a Business?

If you or someone you know is a regular crafter, you may be familiar with the concept of selling crafted wares at fairs, school booths, websites like Etsy.com or eBay.com, or to people in general. However, did you know that your crafting hobby could actually be a business and therefore require you to acknowledge it in your taxes this year? If you have been making and selling your wares since at least last year, it is important for you to determine whether your hobby is still just a hobby (that happens to earn you a few dollars here and there), or whether it should be classified as a business.

Strictly speaking, a hobby is an activity that is conducted without the intent of earning a profit, whereas a business is any activity that is conducted for the purpose of making money. However, it can be tricky deciding exactly where your crafting hobby stands because some people craft and only earn a few dollars while others may earn hundreds. To determine what your hobby actually is, consider the following guidelines offered by the IRS:

Does your time and effort indicate an intention to make a profit? If you have devoted hours of each day into working and selling your wares, then you very well may have a business and not a hobby on your hands.

Do you depend on your crafting profits? If you need the money you earn from your hobby to support you and your family, then your hobby may actually be a business.

Have you ever changed anything in your hobby to make it more profitable? If you have ever made changes specifically to increase your crafting profitability, then you may be dealing with a business.

Do you know how to turn your hobby into a profitable one? This guideline is more vague, but if you or your spouse know how to turn your hobby into a fully functional business, such as if you already own a textile business and you sell custom garments on the side, then the IRS will be more likely to view your hobby as a business.

Does this hobby actually earn money? This one is simple if your crafting does not earn any money, then you do not have a business. However, if it does, no matter how small the amount, then you may have to classify it as a business.

Knowing where your crafting habit stands is important because every year, the incorrect adjustments and deductions of hobby-related businesses add up to approximately $30 billion in unpaid taxes, according to the IRS. In addition, those whose hobbies classify as businesses will need to obtain a local business license and state sales tax permit to legally operate. You may also be able to deduct business expenses on your tax returns, helping to save you some money that way. All in all, it is essential for you to correctly determine whether your hobby is just a hobby (where all of your sales are casual and isolated) or a business (where your sales are planned) so that you do not incur any legal ramifications.

About the Author
Lauren Bailey is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to: blauren99 @gmail.com.


Unknown said...

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Relationship Banking said...

If it does click for you and you do find a profit-making path, you’re likely on the early steps of a journey that will change your life. If it doesn’t click or you can’t find a way to earn anything from it, it’s better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.

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