Accounting for artists: 5 Low-Cost or Free Accounting Tools for Artists

Accounting for artists

In addition to getting personal recommendations (which we are big fans of), you’ll also do some work to build a shared network of support. Asking questions and sharing best practices can help artists build community and get over some of the challenges of talking about money. The other thing is, what products can you create that would then be more profitable? So get your wheels turning and start coming up with ideas. What kind of products can you create that will be profitable? But, the silver lining is that through all these experiences, I was forced to learn more about accounting and bookkeeping.

Many freelancers and artists earn money from sources other than their freelance work. Account Junction may produce tax estimates throughout the year to ensure that you are never caught off guard when it comes to tax time. We can also walk you through ideas for lowering your tax liability before it’s too late.

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Then, we ended up starting out with QuickBooks, and we had a bookkeeper that helped us get set up and taught us how to do it. AccountingTools is an IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider. Our IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider number is 72821. With changing time, human requirements are also changing rapidly and with that the professional services are picking upwards.

Compare the five accounting programs in this article to find the right one for your artistic endeavors. Today, it offers many free business tools, including Zoho Books, its online accounting software. Zoho Books is free for one user and one accountant for businesses with less than $50,000 in annual revenue. It has five paid plans, starting at $20 monthly. You can manage projects, payments, and inventory from your dashboard. Brass Taxes does, as the name implies, focus on helping artists file their taxes, but they also offer additional services.

And this is where I think sometimes artists don’t really keep track of everything. Because you have a lot of supplies that you’ve been using, your paper, paints, and brushes. Some of those things you have to buy on a continuous basis. And finally, when a gallery represents an artist, it’s usually an exclusive arrangement within a certain territory, such as an entire state. If the artist’s works are then sold within this territory where the gallery wasn’t involved, then the gallery gets a cut of the sale. A fee of 20% of the sale price is pretty common.

  • Ask around to see who your community recommends.
  • Having that understanding of your numbers brings you freedom.
  • Keeping correct records assists accounting for artists, bookkeeping for artists, bookkeeping for painters, accountant for musician freelancers and artists to be tax prepared.
  • Since 2006 ZarMoney has offered cloud-based accounting tools for small to large businesses.
  • You can manage projects, payments, and inventory from your dashboard.

For example, a painting might get water damage, so the gallery charges the owner to handle the repair work, which usually means sending it back to the original painter. And there can be substantial marketing expenses. Some of this is the cost of food and drinks at gallery events, but in addition, the gallery may pay for the shipping costs when artists are shipping new works to them. Many artists and creatives operate as sole proprietors for tax reasons, self-employment taxes are a major consideration. Account Junction can calculate and even schedule your projected payments for you to ensure you stay on track throughout the year.


In addition to filing taxes, they help clients with setting up LLCs and S-Corps, filling out W-4 forms, retirement savings, and more. Brass Taxes works with individuals who work as freelancers, sole proprietors, or single LLC owners. They also work with businesses, from LLCs to S-Corps, to C-Corps.

I want to be very honest, that we’ve had some ups and downs for sure, related to money. And I think part of that caused even more of that dread is I used to hate the numbers and the accounting. I think part of it is because it just seemed so stressful for me.

Accounting for artists

Once we have everything inputted into their system, we can see all our numbers and it’s something that has really helped us move forward in our business. Many galleries also maintain off-site storage for excess inventory, which is climate controlled and heavily secured. Designed for business owners, CO— is a site that connects like minds and delivers actionable insights for next-level growth. Practical and real-world advice on how to run your business — from managing employees to keeping the books. If you need to backpedal a bit, shift your directions, remove a product from Etsy, maybe add something specific, pour more energy into something that is obviously profitable, do it. There could be a number of things that you can change because you know the numbers.

The Freelancers Union is concentrated on building worker power and solidarity among freelancers broadly, but they also offer some tools to help artists manage money. They provide ways for freelancers to handle student loan payments, retirement savings, and even bank accounts. The Freelancers Union works to solve some of these problems with collective power.

Given the cost of artwork, a gallery may end up having to charge sales taxes in the hundreds or thousands of dollars on a single sale. Which means that it needs to have a sales tax license, track sales taxes, and remit them to whichever government is collecting it. Depending on the artist, they can sell every single piece that’s displayed in these shows, and sometimes it’s even sold in advance. That’s because most artists have a following of collectors, who want access to their artwork before anyone else can buy it. Most of them make very little money, usually less than $200,000 of revenue per year. Half of that goes to the artists, so they don’t have much money left over to pay for the rent and utilities and employee pay.

Wave: totally free invoicing and accounting tools

Another expense – and a large one – is insurance. A gallery contains a lot of expensive stuff, so of course the inventory insurance on the artwork is also very high. The insurance covers the in-transit period and while works are stored in the gallery, and transfers to and from art fairs, and while the works are being displayed at the fairs. Another revenue source is home delivery and hanging services. They bring artwork to your home and hang it for you, and might even arrange to have lighting installed for it. And as another source, galleries sometimes rent out their space for private receptions, so there can be some rental revenue.

In addition, they provide free educational material. I know record keeping and taxes can be a bit overwhelming and not the rewarding part of our passion. Hopefully with this knowledge you are not as “overwhelmed”. If you decide to shop for a tax preparer make sure that the person has experience in the taxation of artists. Avoid the rush – get started before tax time!

If you are anything like me, it is hard enough for me to record dates and appointments in my date book! I don’t want to clutter it further with business information. You can computerize your record keeping without the purchase of an expensive accounting program. Using a simple spreadsheet will allow you to keep your business information in a format that will be easy for you or your accountant at tax time. For example, using Microsoft EXCEL you can use one workbook with a tab for income and a tab for expenses. (See “Instructions for Artist Record Keeping”).

Do you want to have someone show you what you should be doing so that you can do it yourself? Do you want to pay someone to take it all off your plate? Do you just need help with your taxes or do you want support with monthly payroll questions.

Tax Planning and Preparation Services for Artists:

In the process, we realized we needed to hire someone to help us. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought to hire an accountant. A good tax accountant is going to help you find things that maybe you didn’t see in terms of a deduction, the tax breaks.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation. Everything that you need to know to start your own business. From business ideas to researching the competition. I know this is not a sexy topic that a lot of you really enjoy.

To make the accounting a bit more difficult, curators might be paid a percentage commission on whatever is sold during the exhibition. Fractured Atlas works with artists as a fiscal sponsor, meaning that for many of our members we’re an important part of the financial picture. We help members raise tax-deductible donations and disburse those funds to them to help them pay for expenses related to their work. We’re able to solve some financial problems for artists, but we know that there are others that are beyond our scope. We often get asked if we can help artists manage their finances more directly.

Individual state councils offer a variety of services and structures of support for nonprofits regarding finances. For example, the NY Council of Nonprofits offers financial services to its members including help with budgeting, accounting systems analysis, audit prep, and more. The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits works with the NC Association of CPAs to offer pro bono services to its members. In 1983, QuickBooks Desktop debuted, and the cloud-based version (QuickBooks Online) was launched in 2001. Since then, QuickBooks has added several products, including QuickBooks Self-Employed for freelancers and independent contractors.