Salon Tax Write Offs: Deduction Tips for Hair Stylists and Owners

Salon Tax Write Offs: Deduction Tips for Hair Stylists and Owners

Tax season can be a complex time for the salon industry. Navigating through various possible tax deductions requires a good understanding of what is allowable by the IRS. Fortunately, there are numerous expenses that salon professionals can write off to lower their taxable income. These range from tangible purchases like hair tools and supplies to expenses such as appointment booking software and educational costs. Knowing which costs you can write off is important for maximizing your returns and keeping more money in your pocket.

Hairdresser Tax Tips

For professionals, there are common salon tax write-offs that many overlook, such as booth or salon suite rental costs, marketing, and some utilities that contribute directly to running a successful salon business. Each deductible has specific IRS rules and guidelines that dictate how and when they can be claimed. Keeping accurate records throughout the year to substantiate claims come tax time is the best route to take!

Hi there, my name is Susan Wos and I see a lot of people struggle with tax season, so I gathered up this information to help guide you through getting the most from your tax return! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention TWO of the most helpful and appropriate resources I have found- Quickbooks and Salon Bookkeepers.

Utilizing accounting software and a solid bookkeeper will most certainly help make tax season a breeze!

learn about what the salon industry can write off on their taxes

Table of Contents

things you can write off as a hair stylist when you do your taxes

Understanding Salon Deductible Business Expenses

When managing a salon’s finances, it’s critical for you to comprehend which costs are tax deductible. This ensures you can take full advantage of legal tax savings.

Eligibility for Deductions

To be eligible for tax deductions, salon expenses must be both ordinary and necessary. This means they are common in the salon industry and are appropriate for running the business. For example, license fees for cosmetologists can be deducted since they are a requirement.

Types of Deductible Expenses

You can deduct a variety of expenses that are integral to their business operation. Here is a list of some common deductible expenses:

  • Supplies and Tools: Items such as shears, color, and hair styling products.

  • Education and Training: Costs for education courses to stay current in the industry.

  • Rent or Mortgage: For the physical space of the salon.

  • Utilities: Electricity, water, and other utilities necessary to run your business.

  • Furniture and Equipment: Chairs and stations.

Additionally, fees paid for salon-specific software, like appointment booking systems, can often be deducted. It’s essential to maintain accurate records of all business-related expenditures to substantiate these deductions.

Common Expenses

When working as a salon professional, understanding which expenses are deductible on one’s taxes is crucial. These can include a range of items and services that are essential for conducting business.

Salon Equipment, Tools and Supplies

Self-employed hair professionals can deduct the cost of equipment and supplies that are necessary to do hair. Items such as styling chairs and shampoo bowls can be significant investments, and so the ability to deduct these costs can ease financial pressure. Smaller supplies like scissors, combs, and hair care products are also typical deductions a stylist can claim.

Rent or Mortgage Interest & Home Office

For owners, the rent for your space is often one of the largest monthly expenditures. Thankfully, rent is a business tax expense. If you own the property, the mortgage interest paid can also deduct the expense, helping to reduce the taxable income tied to their salon operations.

Utilities and Maintenance

Running a beauty business involves various utility costs, from electricity to water — all of which are vital for daily business and are considered deductible. Additionally, money spent on repairs that are needed to keep the business operational are outright deductible expenses. It’s important to maintain accurate records of these costs for tax reporting.

Employee-Related Expenses

In the hair salon industry, managing employee-related expenses is crucial for financial health. These costs include things like business cards,  commissions, benefits, and training, which are tax-deductible when properly recorded.

Salaries and Wages Claim on Taxes

Small business owners can use salaries and wages paid to employees, to be deducted as a business expense. This includes hourly pay, salary, commissions, and bonuses for services provided by hairstylists, front desk, and other support staff.

  • Hourly Pay/Salary: Regular compensation for hours worked.

  • Commissions: Earnings based on services performed or products sold.

  • Bonuses: Additional incentives for employee performance.

Employee Benefits

Employee benefits that contribute to the well-being of staff can also be written off. Benefits such as health insurance, dental coverage, and retirement plan contributions are not only advantageous for employee retention but are also recognized as deductible expenses.

  • Health/Dental Insurance: Premiums paid by you for employee coverage.

  • Retirement Plans: Contributions made to 401K accounts.

Operational Costs

When running a salon, certain expenses are a part of everyday operations. These operational costs include not only upkeep, but also the necessary spend that allow the business to function and remain compliant with industry standards.

Insurance Premiums

Every salon should have insurance to protect against unforeseen events. Types of business and hair stylist insurance might include general liability, professional liability, and property insurance. For instance, they can reduce financial risk by covering potential claims from accidents or damages that occur on the premises.

Marketing and Advertising

Attracting new hair clients and retaining existing ones are crucial for a salon to thrive. Expenditures on marketing efforts like social media campaigns, search engine ads, and promotional discounts are vital for growth. These common tax deductions can vary widely but are necessary for increasing visibility and attracting business.

Professional Services

Salons may also require professional tax advice from accountants, lawyers, or consultants. Accountants file your taxes assist and identify potential tax write-offs for independent hair stylists.

Deductible professional expenses that are necessary for running one’s business, such as legal fees or salon accounting services can be easily categorized by a Salon Bookkeeper. Legal fees may arise in contract development or dispute resolution. These services not only ensure compliance with regulations but can also guide owners through complex business decisions.

tips for salon owners to implement effective spending strategies

Tax Deduction Strategies for Hairstylists

Maximizing tax deductions is what every salon and independent hair stylists wants! Focus on maintaining great records, time purchases wisely, and seek the expertise of tax professionals.

Keeping Accurate Records

Meticulous record-keeping lends itself to getting the most out of your return. Salon professionals should maintain an organized system to track all expenses, including receipts for haircare products and equipment such as a new dryer. These records serve as proof for the IRS and can ensure they claim the maximum write-offs available.

Timing of Purchases

Salon owners and stylists can strategically time their purchases to optimize their tax benefits. Purchasing major equipment or supplies late in the year can allow them to deduct expenses in the current tax period, potentially lowering taxable income. If you anticipate a higher income next year, you may postpone major purchases to offset additional revenue.

Consulting a Tax Professional

A tax professional can provide invaluable advice tailored to salon-related finances. Their expertise can help salons navigate complex tax laws and uncover commonly missed tax deductions, ensuring professionals in this line of work takes full advantage of the tax code. It is recommended for professionals in the beauty industry to consult with a tax expert annually.

Understanding Depreciation

When business owners purchase equipment or property, they can’t deduct the full cost in the year of purchase. Instead, you depreciate the assets, which means deducting a portion of the cost over several years.

Section 179 Deduction

The Section 179 Deduction allows salon owners to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software within the tax year. For 2023, the deduction limit is $1,080,000, and it’s applicable to both new and used equipment. To take this deduction, the asset must be used for business purposes more than 50% of the time.

  • Eligible Properties: Styling chairs, shampoo stations, computers.

  • Limit: The total amount of equipment purchased can’t exceed $2,700,000.

  • Deduction: Up to $1,080,000 for 2023.

Bonus Depreciation

In addition to Section 179, Bonus Depreciation is also deductible. This allows owners to depreciate a percentage of the cost of new business property the first year it’s placed in service. For the tax year 2023, the bonus depreciation rate is 100%.

  • Eligible Properties: Must be new to the taxpayer.

  • Claiming: Can be applied after the Section 179 Deduction limit is reached.

  • Rate: 100% for the tax year 2023.

depreciation on salon equipment should be accounted for
hidden salon tax breaks

Deductible Software and Subscriptions

Independent salon professionals can often deduct the cost of software and subscriptions that are used for business purposes. This includes appointment booking platforms to manage their schedule. For example, hairstylists can deduct the cost of appointment booking software if they use it solely for managing client appointments.

Eligible Software:

  • Appointment scheduling

  • Accounting and invoicing

  • Inventory management

  • Customer relationship management (CRM)

Subscription-based services such as online magazines or professional memberships that provide industry news and updates may be deductible.

Potential Deductible Subscriptions:

  • Salon Recruitment Subscriptions

  • Trade journals or magazines

  • Professional organization memberships

  • Online courses for continuing education

When deducting these expenses, salon professionals should use Schedule C, Box 18 for their tax filing. It’s crucial that they keep detailed records to prove that these expenses are directly related to the operation of their business. They should also ensure that any software or subscriptions you claim are not used for personal purposes – only the portion used for business is on the list of tax deductibles.

Documentation to Keep:

  • Receipts for software purchases or subscriptions

  • Statements showing the business use of the software

  • Any relevant contracts or agreements

Beauty professionals should take the time to understand which software and subscription costs can legitimately reduce their taxable income, keeping in mind the need for careful record-keeping.

Travel and Entertainment Salon Expenses

When owners or their employees travel for business purposes, they may incur certain costs that can be deducted from their taxable income. These expenses are generally divided into a few categories.

  • Local Transportation: This covers business-related travel in your city, such as visiting suppliers or going to different locations. It typically includes taxi fares, bus tickets, and fuel for personal vehicles used for work-related trips.

  • Out of Town Travel: Costs for trips that take you away from home overnight for business purposes can be deducted. They should keep records for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, and meals.

Be mindful of what is not deductible. Personal expenses or entertainment that cannot be clearly tied to the business’s operations typically do not qualify. Here are some examples of non-deductible expenses:

  • Personal Entertainment: Activities not related to client meetings or business development.

  • Family Travel Expenses: If they bring family members on a business trip, only their own expenses can be written off.

Record-keeping is essential; keeping detailed receipts and notes explaining the business purpose of each expense. For example, a business dinner with a client can be eligible for a deduction, but you need to document who attended and the nature of the business discussed.

For learning more about tax write-offs for such expenses and staying IRS-compliant, owners can refer to guidance like the IRS’s publication on Travel & Entertainment Expenses and resources such as’s guide on the topic.

photo showing a hair stylist writing off a beach vacation in her taxes
freqently asked questions about tax deductions for hair salon businesses

Common Tax Credits and Incentives

Beauty industry owners and independent hair stylists may be eligible for various tax credits and incentives to reduce their tax burden. Understanding these can lead to significant savings at tax time.

  • Employee Retention Credit (ERC): Salons that kept employees on payroll during specified periods may qualify for the ERC. This credit is particularly advantageous, with some salons reportedly receiving substantial amounts. 

  • Equipment Deductions: Owners can generally deduct the cost of salon equipment as a business expense. This includes chairs, hairdryers, and styling tools. Depreciating the equipment over its useful life or using a Section 179 deduction can greatly reduce taxable income.

  • Business Expense Deductions: Owners can usually write off ordinary and necessary business expenses such as rent, utilities, and supplies. Each expense should be well documented to ensure eligibility for a write-off.

  • Education and Training: If a salon invests in continuing education or training for staff, these costs might be deductible. Consider and record the incentives that are meant to encourage ongoing professional development.

It’s important for beauty professionals to consult a tax professional or utilize tax preparation resources to fully understand and leverage available tax credits and incentives. Careful record-keeping and familiarity with current tax law are crucial for maximizing these benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Navigating tax deductions can be a complex process for salon professionals. These answers provide clarity on tax form questions for those in the beauty industry.

What expenses can I deduct as a self-employed salon owner?

A self-employed salon owner can deduct various expenses such as rent for your space, utilities, and the cost of supplies. 

Are purchases of professional hair care products tax-deductible for stylists?

Yes, stylists can typically deduct the cost of professional hair care products used for clients as a business expense. These products are necessary expenses for providing styling services.

Can salon equipment be considered a tax write-off for a hairdresser?

Absolutely, salon equipment such as chairs, hairdryers, and styling tools are considered capital expenses and can be written off over time through depreciation.

How can hair stylists deduct travel expenses related to their business?

Hair stylists can deduct travel expenses when the travel is specifically for business purposes, such as attending industry trade shows or providing services at a remote location. These expenses must be documented and directly related to their work.

What are the rules for deducting education and training expenses in the beauty industry?

Educational and training expenses that maintain or improve skills required for a stylist’s current business can be deductible. However, education for a new trade or to meet the minimum requirements of a business is not typically deductible.

Are there any special tax deductions available to salons in California?

Salons in California may be eligible for state-specific deductions, including credits for energy efficiency or employment. It is important for owners to check with a local tax advisor to understand all available state deductions.

Thank you for reading our blog on hair stylist tax information! Make sure to check out our beauty industry jobs and salons for sale whenever the need arises in your career.

Yours in service,

Susan Wos

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