Tax Deductions for Journalists


It's a great public service reporting the news and current events as a journalist. Whether you're a journalist or a media professional, you should know what to expect at tax time. You'll receive a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement from your employer, which will list your earnings and withholdings for the tax year. If you freelance, you're self-employed, and will need to report your income on a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business.

Those you freelance for may supply you with a Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, documenting the amount that client paid to you. Net earnings greater than $400 are subject to self-employment tax. You may need to make estimated tax payments throughout the year to cover the amount of self-employment tax you are responsible for paying.

Work-related expenses that you incurred may be claimed through a deduction, reducing the amount you owe in taxes. Employees deduct expenses on a Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, while self-employed journalists can use their Schedule C. It's a good practice to keep all receipts and documents regarding the expenses. Some examples of expense deductions include:

  • Promotional material, such as business cards, resumes, portfolios, website development, and computer software
  • Salaries for personal assistants, service payments for legal advice, and information service fees
  • Business travel, such as meetings, seminars, assignments, job searches, and interviews
  • Continuing education
  • Magazine and trade publication subscriptions
  • Union dues, licensing fees, business gifts
  • Home office use (as it applies to the standard home office deduction requirements)

Media professionals who appear on camera and required to keep a specific aesthetic look are not able to deduct fees related to their appearance upkeep, as the expense is considered personal.