Accounting for photographers: Accounting Basics for Photographers

Accounting for photographers

One way to handle it is to just pay yourself back from the business. Basically, you would reimburse yourself from the business, and then record that expense on the business at that point. The IRS says if you don’t have 100% of your prior year’s taxes paid in during the current year, you will be penalized. For example, if your tax bill in 2018 was $1,000, you need to have $1,000 paid by the end of 2019, or you will have to pay a penalty. “I get stressed and procrastinate when it’s time to do my books. I’m done with DIY accounting.” Kirk Simpson, co-founder and CEO of Wave, consistently pushes the boundaries of digital media.

Accounting for photographers

QuickBooks Online offers many options in different tier levels. The number of features increases with each tier, along with the price. Basically, the more organized you are, the more money you will save, because it won’t take your accountant or bookkeeper as long to sort through everything. An accountant can also figure out your potential tax liability throughout the year. You can certainly try to do this on your own, but it may end up costing you more in the long run, especially if you are disorganized.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Karen Schultz of CKS Accounting Services, LLP. Being that I’m a photographer (and not particularly money-savvy), I had a bazillion questions to ask her. Keep in mind that a “home office” write off is one thing that the IRS really focuses on when they do an audit. They want to make sure you’re taking the right percentages and are doing it correctly. This is where having an accountant or tax preparer can be invaluable, because they will know what you can and cannot deduct, and can double check your math.

Should I Keep Track Myself or Hand the Accountant a Box of Receipts at the End of the Year?

If you don’t want to do that or don’t have the money to do that, then you should let your accountant or bookkeeper know. They will then record the expense on the business side, and show it as “owed to you”, or “due to owner”. If your business is structured as a corporation, then it would be “due to shareholder”. Now you know why you need accounting, how an accounting software provider can paint the picture of your finances, and some of the common terms you’ll come across.

Accounting for photographers

Since invoicing is the essential way to receive your credit card payments and create some revenue. If you are using a mobile device as a real estate photographer, then FreshBooks may prove to be beneficial. The best free accounting software for a real estate photographer is Wave Accounting.

What does a photographer need out of their accounting software?

All profits and losses for your business will be included on that schedule and filed with your personal tax return. If the thought of taxes and business finances sends you into a cold sweat, then now’s the perfect time to finally take control of your finances and do yourself a favor by hiring an accountant. That way, if you’re a Sole Proprietorship, your accountant can just take those numbers and enter them on the tax return. You also have to let them know what your income is for the year. You can get this information from your bank statements (you should be depositing all your income into your account). When you’re not behind a camera, chances are you’re in front of a laptop touching up the photos from the shoot.

With all the administrative work you do to keep your photography business running, it’s easy to understand how bookkeeping can fall by the wayside. “I’ll get to it later,” you say, until you’ve accumulated 12 months of “laters” and tax time has arrived with its greedy little paw outstretched for a chunk of your hard-earned income. After discussing the ins and outs of hiring an accountant for my photography business with Karen at CKS Accounting, I had some additional questions about taxes, write-offs, expenses, and receipts. To minimize your risk of an audit, keep your tax returns as simple as possible. Accounting software is always helpful in these situations as well as keeping very organized and concise records regarding your photography business and expenses.

As you work through your accounting, keep these questions in the back of your mind. It’ll help you see when you’ve achieved a goal and act as a reminder to set new goals. Kim Shackleton is a former accountant, bridging the GAAP between numbers and words.

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If you’re recording transactions regularly, you can always understand how much cash you have coming in and what you’re paying out. Evaluating the factors above is just a small part of our comprehensive accounting software methodology. This data-driven approach helps us better understand the services, so we can recommend only those that are a good fit for your needs.

  • There are other applications available as well, such as, that are specifically made to create, send and track invoices.
  • FreshBooks provides a range of monthly pricing options, depending upon the plan selected.
  • By keeping track of expenses in addition to income, you can calculate the actual business earnings as well as identify tax deductible opportunities.
  • Price increases as the number of billable clients and users are added.
  • It is your responsibility to do your own withholdings and claim annually, although it’s suggested to pay estimated taxes quarterly to avoid the stress of a large bill at tax time.

Novices in the photography industry might be thinking, “Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but how am I supposed to stay on top of all this if I don’t really understand it? Bench offers a basic bookkeeping package or a bookkeeping and tax package. If you do just the bookkeeping package, you’d have to find a different tax preparation provider but your financials would be tax ready, so the process should be fairly seamless. Most photographers will need the Plus version, or possibly the Premium version if you want some of those additional features. In my opinion, the Lite (lowest tier) version will not provide everything you need, and on the flip side, the Select plan (the highest tier) is more than most photographers would need. All that said, the Quickbooks website makes it easy to compare features and pricing for their different options, so you can determine what fits your needs best.

This method is useful at the start of your business when your accountable expenses are yet manageable. In this method, you record when any incoming or outgoing cash flows. The information you give your accountant will be entered into accounting software and categorized accordingly.

When sending out your photography invoices, you want to be sure to include the terms of service and payment which explain how nonpayment, late payments, etc. work. You should also include a due date for the invoice, the type of payment you accept, your company logo, services rendered, and any other project-related costs that may be included. Weddingphotographers, for example, may be able to include any agreed-upon travel expenses in the invoice. Retain all of your receipts proving these expenses in case there is any dispute regarding the invoice as well as for tax purposes. You can keep track of which types of photography services are making you the most money and which ones you might be better off without.

Track All Expenses

This is another software developed by photographers for photographers. It manages leads, shoots, invoices, quotes, contracts, and workflows, all with an intuitive, clean, and easy interface. Revenue or income is the total money we make from a normal business. You usually acquire this money after your clients see invoices and clear payments.

Accounting Software Providers

At the end of the year, they can give you a print out of all income and expenses for the year and should be able to help you plan a budget for the next year. The biggest difference here is in the timing of when the sales and purchases are recorded for your accounts. Cash accounting sees revenue and expenses when money changes hands while accrual accounting only recognizes the revenue when it is earned and when the expenses are billed and not paid.

Sage’s website is not the most clear when it comes to what features are available in each of their different tiers. That said, there are only two options and I do believe most photographers would want the higher tier. However, pricing for the higher tier is comparable to the other software providers on this list.

Or hire an accountant, either under your business or at a third-party firm. If you have staff within your photography business, sharing reports is a nice way to keep them up to date on how the business is doing. It’s good for them to know their employer is successful enough to keep them employed.

If you’re making big equipment purchases, squeeze them into the same tax year to take advantage of the full year deduction. Think of accounting as a sorting tool for your business transactions that makes sense of your financial data. Accounting can be an organizational tool, categorizer extraordinaire, or simply a way of seeing how awesome your business is doing (assets) or how it might need some help (liabilities). William Iven If you’re like me, you love being an entrepreneur, except when it comes to the paperwork — getting paid on time, managing receipts, calculating taxes. You want to spend as much time as possible focusing on your passion, but instead too often you’re tripped up by the accounting details.