Financially Fit? Tax Deductions for Private Fitness Trainers

Private fitness trainers are often self-employed individuals who operate what amounts to a small business. If you’re a self-employed fitness trainer, you may be entitled to specific tax deductions – even if you’re otherwise employed by a gym or have another job. Here are some of the deductions you should consider in order to reduce the amount of taxes you pay.

General Business Expenses

As a small business owner, you can deduct a number of general business expenses from your taxes. These include:

  • Advertising and business cards
  • Computers and tablets
  • Printers and supplies
  • Phones
  • Internet and phone fees
  • Website costs
  • Office supplies
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Rent (if you lease space outside your home)
  • Professional services
  • Interest on business loans
  • Bank and payment processing fees

In order to deduct these expenses in full, they must apply 100% to your business. Otherwise, you may be able to deduct only the portion of the expense that was business-related. For example, if you use your computer, phone, or internet connection for both business and personal activities, you may only deduct the percentage of time you use them for your business.

Home Office or Training Space

If you use part of your home for personal training, such as a home gym, you may be able to deduct a number of associated expenses. You may also be able to claim these deductions if you use part of your home as an office for your business, whether or not you actually train any clients there. This is called a home office deduction, and the IRS is very clear about what constitutes a home office and what doesn’t.

If you utilize a home gym or office, you may be able to deduct at least a portion of your:

  • Utilities
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Furniture and furnishings
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Real estate taxes
  • Home mortgage interest
  • Depreciation on your home
  • Security system
  • Rent (if you don’t own your home)

The exact percentage you can deduct depends on the size of your training/office space in relation to the rest of your home. So, you’ll need to know the square footage of both in order to claim these deductions. Also, if you use that space for any personal reasons, such as your own training, you may only deduct the percentage of time you use it for training clients.

If you don’t want to keep all the necessary records, you could alternatively take a flat-rate deduction of $5 per square foot of home office space, up to 300 square feet, which gives you a maximum write-off of $1,500 per year.

Fitness Equipment and Gear

Any fitness equipment or supplies you use for training your clients may be tax deductible. This would include treadmills, elliptical, rowers, stationary bikes, or any other training machines your clients use in your home gym. These can also include mats, weights, ropes, or other accessories you use – even if you take them with you to the client’s location. Activity monitors and wearables might also be deducted if you use them in the process of training your clients. Same with music and exercise videos.

Certifications and Educational Materials

If you require professional certification, such as Group Fitness Instructors Certification, you can deduct any expenses you incur in obtaining or keeping that certification. Any continuing education that allows you to upgrade your skills or offer the services you do may also be deductible.

Educational materials, including subscriptions to websites or publications you need to stay on top of your game, can be deducted. Any educational materials you supply to your clients – like those pertaining to fitness, diet, or health – could also be claimed as deductions.

Travel Expenses

If you travel to meet clients, you can deduct the business use of your vehicle. You may be able to deduct actual car expenses, but most personal fitness trainers use the standard mileage rate. If you do so, make sure you keep accurate records of all miles driven throughout the year. In addition, you can deduct all tolls, rideshare services, taxis, public transportation, or other expenses you incur in visiting clients or going to work-related conferences or workshops.

Liability Insurance and Medical Plans

Liability insurance is essential for many personal trainers to protect them from devastating law suits. The cost of such insurance is deductible from your taxes. Likewise, if you have established a self-insured medical reimbursement plan, you may be able to deduct up to 100% of the out-of-pocket medical expenses you incur.

20% Deduction on Qualified Business Income

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 instituted a 20% deduction for small business owners who report their income on their personal tax forms (called “pass-through income”). The deduction is subject to some limitations and is set to expire in 2025, but for now it allows you to reduce your adjusted gross income, saving you substantial tax dollars.

An experienced tax accountant can help to make sure you take full advantage of all deductions you’re eligible to claim. Hiring an accountant to prepare your taxes can also free up your time to do what you really want to be doing – training clients.

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