Across the country, millions of people have passions they pursue on the side, earning money from their hobbies and interests. Even if you haven’t officially formed your hobby as a business, you still must claim the income you make through these efforts.

Here are some tips to help you report your income:

1. Identify whether you have a hobby or a business.

  • Hobby: You earn income but do not do so to make a profit, rather for your pastime recreation.
  • Business: You purposefully work to make a profit.

You can explore the 9 factors the IRS lists to help clarify if you have a hobby or business.

hobby vs profession2. Manage your hobby’s allowable expense deductions.

When claiming hobby-earned income, you can typically deduct your expenses, but only if they are ordinary and necessary.

  • Ordinary expense: Considered common and acceptable for the hobby you engage in.
  • Necessary expense: Considered appropriate for participating in your hobby.

3. Report expenses up to the allowable limit. 

You can report hobby expenses, but the limit is the amount of income you make from it. If your expenses exceed your income, then you have a loss. However, the IRS doesn’t allow you to deduct hobby-income losses.

Other details may apply, and you can find more information on the IRS website.

* This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.