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I have a small apparel decorating business; custom t-shirts…

Customer Question
I have a small...

I have a small apparel decorating business; custom t-shirts and such. I was curious if expenses I incur exclusively to get staged pictures of my products is a tax deduction. I am going to be strongly featuring my close family and friends in stagesd environments wearing my products and push the images as a lifestyle through social marketing. Example: I make custom family vacation t-shirts that target Disneyland attendees. If I plan a quick one day trip to Disneyland solely so I can get staged pictures of my family at Disneyland wearing our t-shirts; can I deduct all of the trip’s expenses? We also make outdoor themed tees and apparel. If I purchase outdoor gear from REI solely to stage pictures at Yosemite of individuals wearing my apparel, can I deduct the cost of a day trip as well as the outdoor gear I purchased to stage the pics that market a specific lifestyle and my target customer?

Accountant's Assistant: The Accountant will know how to help. Is there anything else the Accountant should be aware of?

That sums it up. I am curious if I can deduct the cost of what could generally be called “day trips” and products I buy to feature in staging pictures to market and sell my products. Specific items, not items I would normally buy for personal use. A specific label of board shorts to take pics of a youth wearing one of our tank tops. Backpack and hiking gear to take pics wesringnoir hats and atheletic tees hiking in Muir Woods. A newsboy hat and vans slip ons to take a pic wearing of a man wearing our hipster line premium tee riding a trolley at SF.

Submitted: 3 months ago.Category: Finance
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3/13/2018
Financial Professional: TaxRobin, Senior Advisor replied 3 months ago
TaxRobin
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Experience: 15 years of experience in financial advising with emphasis on tax issues.
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Financial Professional: TaxRobin, Senior Advisor replied 3 months ago

No, you cannot deduct the full costs for you and your family.

You can deduct all of your travel expenses if your trip was entirely business related. If your trip was primarily for business and, while at your business destination, you extended your stay for a vacation, made a personal side trip, or had other personal activities, you can deduct only your business-related travel expenses. These expenses include the travel costs of getting to and from your business destination and any business-related expenses at your business destination.

If your trip was primarily for personal reasons, such as a vacation, the entire cost of the trip is a nondeductible personal expense. However, you can deduct any expenses you have while at your destination that are directly related to your business.

This is a VERY gray area and you should really be cautious.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you for the reply. I understand this is a grey area, that’s why I have not used these types of deductions in the past. Your reply was no; however, it implies yes and it seems a little off topic. I understand basic business travel expenses can be deducted. I fly to Phoenix solely for a business conference or San Diego for training on new equipment - it’s all a deduction. I also understand that I cannot deduct personal vacations as business expenses. To clarify, my question is can I deduct expenses I incur solely to create content / media to advertise my products. There are companies that offer this specific service, create pictures and short videos featuring my products. I am unhappy with their overpriced and underwhelming services. I wish to cut the advertising agencies out of the picture and do it in house.I have four apparel labels / brands that target different lifestyles. I make a line of custom family vacation t-shirts and apparel. I live in Sacramento. After I make a new batch of apparel, I need images and videos of my new line of apparel as marketing material. To stage this, I drive to Anaheim, stay in a hotel for the night, go to Disneyland the next day, spend the day solely taking staged pictures and videos of my new product line around Disneyland, drive home. The entire hectic trip was all for my business, not pleasure, no extended stay. Similar scenario; I buy some hiking gear as props for pictures and videos, travel to a local hiking spot, take pictures and videos of someone wearing the gear and our outdoor living apparel line to use solely for a marketing campaign. Everything purchased was within reason for the staged photos / videos - a sensible backpack and basic hiking poles, not a GoPro camera or expensive GPS watch that you can’t even see in the picture.All of the purchased products and expenses incurred would be 100% to create content that I can use for social posts and paid ads. The trips and expenses would never occurred if I was not intending to create the media content for my business’s markerting. It isn’t a vacation turned into sorta business, it’s only intent is to create advertising material. No 5 day trip to Disneyland :-) - just a very exhausting weekend to get the material I need to promote and sell my products through Instagram, my site, blog posts linking back to buy pages, Facebook Ads, etc. From what I have read at the IRS site, these would be deductions but it is hard to get a clear answer on the subject. I imagine these deductions would be red flags. Are the absolutely not deductions? Or yes, they are, but could cause a headache?
Thanks,
Ryan
Financial Professional: TaxRobin, Senior Advisor replied 3 months ago

To clarify, my question is can I deduct expenses I incur solely to create content / media to advertise my products.

Yes under marketing or advertising

but could cause a headache

Yes

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