Hobby or Business?

February 7th, 2017 → 11:08 am @

How do you know if you have a hobby or a business? There is not set dollar threshold that changes a hobby writer into a professional.

It depends primarily on your motivation for writing.

The IRS has a few factors to consider:

  • The time and effort you spend in the activity can determine hobby status. Spending significant amounts of time writing might imply that your writing is more than a hobby and it is a business.
  • The manner you conduct the activity such as doing advertising or bookkeeping may mean your hobby has become a business.
  • Your expertise and prior success in a similar activity may cause your hobby to be classified as a business. An author with a publishing contract has a business, not a hobby.
  • Your profit motive and prior history of profits may indicate a for-profit business, not a hobby.
  • Other sources of income may demonstrate your writing is not your main source of income, but only a hobby.1



Still can’t figure it out? My book Business Tips and Taxes for Writers devotes a chapter to hobby writing, its advantages and disadvantages.

Carol Topp, CPA

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