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Sales tax and bookkeeping tips for your photography and video business

Photographers & New York Sales Tax

Years ago, the photography business was mainly based on prints for the customer. Now with the advancement of technology, photographers provide a number of services to their customers that go beyond that. From photo editing to digital downloads to photo shoots, it can be challenging for photographers to determine what formats require sales tax and how to keep proper records.

What photo services require sales tax?

Photographers must charge sales tax on tangible items.

Tangible items are physical personal property that has material existence, as defined by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

This includes:

Photo Prints

Photo Albums

Photos on a CD, flash drive, tape, or photo card

Anything that you can physically hold in your hand!

What items do not require sales tax?

The following intangible items - ones that cannot be physically held in your hand - do not require sales tax:

Photo Shoots

Photo Editing

Photos delivered electronically (Ex: sending your client JPEGs of their wedding, digital downloads of a baby shower)

Anything digital!

If you give your client the photo's on a flash drive or CD, it is subject to the applicable sales tax rate to the jurisdiction where the work was performed.

For example: Most of Westchester county is 7 3/8%. This is tax that you will need to add on to your invoice to your client.

As a photographer, what are the best ways to keep proper record of the services I provide my clients?

It is imperative that photographers keep a detailed record and tally of what they provide to their clients. Often, photographers are also serving particular clients for an extended period of time (think life-changing events such as a wedding where there can be an engagement shoot, bridal shower shoot, and the actual wedding itself). That last thing you want to do is to start keeping track once the services you've provided are through.

Photography Business Tips & Tricks To Track:

Amount of sales tax collected

Registering your business for a Certificate of Authority (COA) which enables you to charge and collect sales tax.

The price you charged for each sale with the appropriate paperwork (receipt or invoice)

Returns or credits issues to a client

The location of the sales and services (this will impact the sales tax rate that you charge)

Tax-exempt sales you made with the certificate of authority

Every cash, check, credit, and debit transaction made

File your monthly, quarterly or annual sales tax forms.

Keeping a record of many aspects of your photography business with not only help you stay organized, but will ultimately help to maximize your profits.

With years of knowledge and experience, CBAuthentix specializes in bookkeeping services for all types of businesses in Westchester County and the surrounding areas. Schedule your no obligation free consultation today!

Chris Boyer, Chief Bookkeeper
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