Tax Deduction Cheat Sheet: 10 Deductibles for Life Coaches in 2024

Tax deduction cheat sheet

When you’re in the middle of a coaching session, you feel amazing. But when it’s time to catch up on the administrative side of your business — like business taxes — that’s when you probably get tripped up.

Yes, life coaches must pay taxes like everyone else — but how does it work, and how can you apply tax deductions? You may be wondering, what can I write off?

Keep reading to get clear on everything you need to know about tax deductions for life coaches — and use the tax deduction cheat sheet at the bottom of this post to make managing your tax bill easier.

Disclaimer: This post serves informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with an accountant or tax lawyer to get custom advice for your situation.

What Is Tax Deduction?

So what exactly is a tax write-off (or tax deduction) in the first place, and why do life coaches need to know about them?

You need to pay taxes on the revenue from your coaching business. You’ll pay different amounts depending on your state but the same percentage for federal income tax, no matter your home state. 

You only pay tax on your taxable income, not all the money you make. Imagine if you just started a coaching business and made $20,000 but spent $18,000 on startup costs. You’d have to pay more taxes than your business even generated if you were to pay taxes on your entire gross income.

Tax deductions are expenses you use to reduce your taxable income. When you run a business, most business expenses can be used as a tax write-off. This means you only pay tax on the profit your business makes. 

Types of Tax Deductions Coaches Need to Know About

There are two types of tax deductions you need to know about as a coach: standard deductions and itemized deductions.

Standard deductions are a specific amount of money you can write off.  If you choose to write off the standard deduction, you get that specific amount and nothing else. 

The standard deduction can vary each year and depends on your circumstances. For example, in 2023, these were the standard deductions for different filing statuses (with taxes due April 2024).

Filing status2023 standard deduction
Married, filing separately$13,850
Married, filing jointly; qualified widow/er$27,700
Head of household$20,800

In 2024, these will be the standard deductions for different filing statuses (with taxes due in 2025).

Filing status2024 standard deduction
Married, filing separately$14,600
Married, filing jointly; qualifying widow/er$29,200
Head of household$21,900

If you opt for itemized deductions, you must account for expenses deductible from your tax bill. These will include any business expenses that you, your bookkeeper, or tax advisor itemized in your system and any other eligible expenses. In this case, they reduce your taxable income by the total of all eligible expenses instead of lowering it by a fixed amount.

Some common expenses self-employed individuals use to reduce their tax deductible include:

  • Office expenses and office supplies
  • Recurring expenses like website hosting or software fees (yes, you can write off your Paperbell subscription!)
  • Legal fees and professional fees
  • Parts of utilities and rent if you work from a home office
  • Local phone service (if you use a separate phone line for business calls from your home office)

For example, let’s say you made $90,000 from your coaching services last year. When you add up all your eligible expenses, you get a total of $15,000. You could lower the tax-deductible amount to $75,000 using these itemized deductions.

If you’re filing separately (and not as a head of household), you’d be better off using itemized deductions in the above scenario. However, if you had only spent $5,000 on your business, you’d be better off taking the $13,850 standard deduction for single filers.

tax write offs for coaches

10 Little-Known Categories of Tax Write-off for Self-Employed Coaches

Apart from the standard itemized deductions, self-employed coaches can claim deductions and use a variety of tax write-offs to reduce the tax-deductible from their income. Look at these ideas to save money and take more of your income home!

1. Coaching Business Startup Costs

Have you just started your coaching business? If so, some of your costs may be qualified business income deductions from your taxable income.

Remember that this deduction only applies to businesses with $55,000 or less in startup costs. But most coaches who operate online fall safely under this threshold.

So how much can you deduct from your gross income in business-related expenses? If you’re in your first year of business, you can deduct up to $5,000 for starting your business and another $5,000 in organizational costs. 

However, you’ll get smaller deductions if you’ve invested over $50,000 in startup costs. For example, if you spent a total of $52,000, you would only be allowed to deduct $3,000 instead of $5,000.

You’ll get no deductions if you spend over $55,000 in startup costs. 

But there’s a difference between “startup costs” and how much you spent in your first year of business. For example, if you had to purchase a new computer and desk, those count as startup costs. But you wouldn’t count your monthly advertising expenses, even if you’re using advertising to “start” your coaching business and land your first client

2. Self-Employment Tax

In addition to your income tax, you’ll also need to pay a self-employment tax if you run a life coaching business. Self-employed individuals will pay a rate of 12.4% of their net earnings for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare. 

But is self-employment tax deductible?

Yes, you can write off half of your self-employment tax to reduce your taxable income. If you don’t take this step, it’ll be like you’re paying taxes twice. 

With that said, you need to ensure your IRS Form 1099-NEC/MISC matches your total self-employment income before you start subtracting deductions. Otherwise, you could get audited.

3. Coaching Business Insurance

As a life coach, you should consider getting insurance. Any business insurance that you get to run your coaching business safely can be deducted from your taxable income.

For example, the insurance premiums you pay for your liability insurance are a qualified business income deduction. If you hire someone and pay employee health insurance, that counts too!

Plus, if you cover the property from which you work, you can deduct those premiums as well.

4. Advertising and Marketing

There are several low-spend and no-spend ways to get coaching clients fast. But it’s also possible to invest some funds in advertising and marketing to speed up your progress.

For example, you can start running Facebook ads, or you can hire someone to run your social media marketing campaigns

In both cases, you can deduct your expenses as advertising costs. Other examples of eligible advertising and marketing expenses include but aren’t limited to:

Don’t be tempted to spend too much on advertising and marketing just because it’s a write-off. Take mitigated risks and validate your offers to avoid overspending on this aspect of your coaching business.

5. Educational Content 

You can write off business services, but you can also write off educational content and training

Yes, that means you can hire a business coach or enroll in a business course online and write it off as a business expense to help reduce your taxes!

However, not all education is fair game. The courses or training programs you take must help you develop new skills and certifications relevant to your business. 

This means that any new coaching certifications would count. But that new pottery class you want to take up in the evenings can’t be written off — unless you intend to start selling your creations.

Online courses and certifications aren’t the only type of education you can deduct. You can also write off business books and other paid educational materials.

If you have a virtual assistant working with you, any educational costs to help train them are deductible too. 

6. Contributions You Make to Your Retirement Funds

Are you using part of your income to save for the future? If so, some of these contributions may be eligible for a tax write-off.

The amount you’re allowed to contribute with a write-off will depend on your retirement plan — which will vary depending on your age and other factors. You can consult the IRS page on this topic to make your own calculations.  

In most cases, you’ll need to pay income taxes when you retrieve these funds during retirement. But since many retired people live on a lower income, you’ll also be in a lower tax bracket, which will help you reduce your total lifetime tax payments.

7. Travel Expenses

Are you traveling to attend a coaching conference or visit a client in person? Did you know you can deduct expenses related to business travel and any expenses you incur during these types of trips? 

For example, you can write off the following expenses and more:

  • Hotels and other lodgings
  • Gas expenses
  • Airfare (or other means of long-distance travel)
  • Business meals 
  • Vehicle expenses

For a trip to count as a business trip, according to the IRS, you need to travel specifically for your business. You also need to travel outside of your home, at least overnight. 

As a general rule, you can deduct 50% of the costs of meals and entertainment as expenses related to your coaching business. So if you take a client out for an in-person meeting, you can pay and deduct the cost as an expense.

8. Professional Services

Do you hire someone to help you run your business smoothly, like a tax advisor, lawyer, or accountant? These costs are easy tax write-offs. Make sure you get proper invoices from those you hire for professional services.

9. Health Insurance and Medical Expenses

You can deduct your health insurance premiums and any medical expenses as non-taxable costs. These expenses include insurance plans, dental care, and any long-term care insurance you pay for yourself or your spouse and dependents.

10. Home Office Deductions

Do you run your coaching business from home? If you work from home, you can deduct part of your rent or mortgage and your utilities as self-employment write-offs. This would include electricity, wifi, and water bills. 

Plus, office supplies belong in this category too. To claim these as expenses, you must file proof of what you paid.

Tax Deduction Cheat Sheet for Life Coaches

home business tax write offs

Let’s face it — we’ve just discussed a ton of confusing terms you may not be familiar with. Below is your small business tax deduction cheat sheet to help you remember the important terms once tax season rolls around! This should make your tax filing process much less stressful and help you identify which tax credits you are eligible for.

Use this self-employed tax deductions checklist to see what tax credits you’re eligible for.

Tax DeductionDefinition
Electric Vehicle Tax CreditIf you purchased an electric vehicle, you may qualify for a tax credit. This credit encourages the use of environmentally friendly vehicles, providing financial incentives for self-employed individuals who invest in electric cars for their business activities.
Child Tax CreditThe Child Tax Credit is available to self-employed individuals who have a qualifying child. To qualify, the child must meet certain criteria, including age, relationship, residency, and financial support.
Adoption CreditSelf-employed individuals who have adopted a child may be eligible for the Adoption Credit. To claim the credit, the adoptive parent must meet specific criteria related to adoption costs, the child’s eligibility, and the year the adoption was finalized.
Capital LossesCapital losses occur when a capital asset, such as property, decreases in value and is sold for less than its original purchase price. Self-employed individuals can deduct these capital losses from their taxable income.
Charitable ContributionsContributions made by self-employed individuals or their coaching businesses to qualified charities are considered deductible expenses. These charitable contributions can include monetary donations, as well as donated goods or services.
Startup Cost DeductionThe startup cost deduction allows self-employed individuals to deduct certain expenses incurred when starting a new business. These expenses may include research, legal fees, and other costs associated with establishing the business.
Self-Employment Tax DeductionThe self-employment tax deduction enables self-employed individuals to deduct the employer-equivalent portion of their self-employment tax. This way, they can avoid paying both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Business Insurance DeductionSelf-employed individuals can deduct the cost of business insurance premiums as a business expense. This includes coverage for property, liability, and other insurance necessary for the operation of the business.
Health Insurance DeductionSelf-employed individuals may be eligible to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums for themselves, their spouses, and their dependents.
Advertising and Marketing CostsCosts associated with advertising and marketing the coaching business are deductible expenses for self-employed individuals. This includes expenses related to online and offline advertising campaigns.
Educational ExpensesEducational expenses directly related to the coaching business may be deductible. This includes the cost of workshops, courses, or certifications that enhance skills and knowledge relevant to the coaching business.
Home Office DeductionThe Home Office Deduction allows self-employed individuals to deduct a portion of their home-related expenses if they use part of their home exclusively for business purposes.This includes expenses such as mortgage interest, property taxes, utilities, and maintenance, based on the percentage of their home used for business.
Business Equipment ExpensesThe cost of purchasing business equipment for your life coaching business, such as computers or cameras, is also deductible.

Self-Employed Tax Filing and Deductions Glossary

Additionally, here’s a glossary to help you navigate terms around self-employed tax filing and deductions.

Above-the-line deductions: These are the deductions the IRS allows you to make on your annual gross income to reduce your taxable income. 

Estimated taxes: As a self-employed coach or business owner, you can file quarterly taxes instead of paying in one lump sum. Estimated taxes are the estimated amount you’ll make throughout each quarter.

FSA/HSA: Non-taxable spending accounts you can use to pay for healthcare expenses.

Federal income tax: A percentage of your taxable income you need to pay towards the federal level, regardless of which state you live in.

State income tax: A percentage of your taxable income you’ll need to pay toward your state. Not all states have a state tax.

Year-to-date taxable income: How much have you generated from the beginning of this year to date?

LLC: Short for Limited Liability Company. You can choose to be taxed as a corporation or as a partnership. 

Corporation: Corporations have a completely separate taxable entity from their owners or shareholders. 

W-2 form: As a self-employed coach, you won’t receive a W-2 form. These forms are only for employees on a payroll. If you’ve done contract work for another business, you’ll receive earnings statements on a 1099-NEC form instead. 

1099-NEC form: This form is for non-employee compensation. You’ll receive this to report your compensation if you did coaching or consulting work for another company. The 1099 tax write-off list is the same as everything mentioned in the self-employed deduction cheat sheet. While the NEC is the most common example of this type of form, there are others, which is why understanding 1099 forms in full is important if you want to fill out the right one for your needs, rather than wasting time and risking the ire of regulators by taking the wrong route.

Save on Taxes for Your Life Coaching Business

Keeping your business organized to make tax season a breeze is easier said than done. Sometimes life gets on top of you, and you can’t find all the invoices you need when tax season comes around.

If you keep the above tax deduction cheat sheet handy, you can keep the home business tax write-offs in mind and remember to save all your expense receipts and invoices.

Paperbell makes it much easier to keep client payments, communication, and appointments all in one place! With Paperbell, you won’t have to scrabble around at tax season looking for payment records.  

Create your free account to see Paperbell in action for your coaching business.

Disclaimer: This post isn’t written by a tax professional; it’s here for information purposes only. If you are unsure about any regulations surrounding taxation, please check with a tax professional.

tax deductions

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2023 and has since been updated for accuracy.

By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
January 4, 2024

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