Which Local Marketing Expenses Are Tax-Deductible?

 

Local marketing is a core marketing strategy, especially if your business is mostly face to face or geographically based.

Which expenses are tax-deductible though? ūüėČ

I’m going to take you through the 7 most popular ways of local marketing and whether they’re tax-deductible:

  • Press
  • Printing
  • Cold calls
  • Door to door
  • Networking
  • Advertising
  • Events

(and when cake is a tax-deductible expense).

 

1. Press

Press is local media like newspapers and magazines that have a specific local or regional audience.

Being featured in your local newspaper is a great way to expand your reach and get known by more people in your local area.

Press expenses may include:

  • Calls to journalists
  • Meeting a journalist
  • Photoshoot
  • Media pack
  • Paying for food and drink for a journalist or photographer if they cover your event

What’s tax-deductible?

  • Calls to journalists – business calls are tax-deductible
  • Meeting a journalist – travel to/from is tax-deductible. Food and drink is not tax-deductible
  • Photoshoot – tax-deductible (learn more¬†and my experience of a Daily Mail photoshoot)
  • Media pack (e.g. photographs, graphics) – tax-deductible
  • Paying for food and drink for a journalist or photographer if they cover your event – possibly tax-deductible

Food and drink is not tax-deductible most of the time as it counts as ‘entertainment’. It’s still a business expense. You still need to account for it in your records.

Exceptions:

If you are holding an event and have a local press journalist or photographer attend, it is tax-deductible if the venue require you to pay for their food and drink (keep records to prove this). It becomes an advertising expense. This was the case with my Demystify Limited Companies retreat when I needed to pay full rate for my videographer as he was there for the whole day (it wasn’t local press but you get the idea).

 

2. Printing

Printing is the backbone of local marketing.

Printing expenses may include:

  • Flyers
  • Leaflets
  • Business cards
  • Postcards
  • Graphic design

What’s tax-deductible?

This one is simple. It’s tax-deductible.

I’m sure there are some exceptions, but in nearly every case it’s tax-deductible.¬†Another fabulous benefit for loving stationery ūüôā

3. Cold Calls & Warm Calls

Cold calls are phone calls made to potential customers, who fit your ideal profile and who haven’t indicated any interest in what you’re selling, with the intent to ask¬†them to sign up with you.

Warm calls are phone calls made to potential customers, who fit your ideal profile¬†and who have indicated interest in what you’re selling, with the intent to ask¬†them to sign up with you.

What’s tax-deductible?

The phone calls are all tax-deductible. Keep records of the calls (your phone bill is just fine).

If you pay a company to do the calls for you, that’s tax-deductible too.

4. Door To Door

Door to door can be a great way to get your business better known in the local area and do local marketing.

You don’t need to be selling, you can share with people the problem your business is solving, without actively selling.

Door to door expenses may include:

  • Your travel to and from
  • Printing flyers and leaflets etc
  • Food and drink
  • Logo’d clothing
  • Paying someone else to do door to door for you

What’s tax-deductible?

  • Your travel to and from – tax-deductible
  • Printing flyers and leaflets etc – tax-deductible
  • Food and drink – not tax-deductible (learn more below)
  • Logo’d clothing – tax-deductible (learn more below)
  • Paying someone else to do door to door for you – tax-deductible

Food and drink, e.g. your lunch while you’re going door to door, isn’t tax-deductible. It’s for your personal benefit, so it isn’t included as ‘wholly and exclusively for business purposes’ which is the requirement for tax relief.

Clothing with your logo on (e.g. T shirt or fleece) is an exception from the ‘clothes are not tax-deductible’ rule. This is because the logo makes it into a marketing expense. Bear in mind that the clothing needs to be appropriate to your business and putting logos on all your clothes isn’t a cheap way to get tax relief.

On the other hand, going door to door as a yoga teacher with a logo’d Lululemon yoga top is totally tax-deductible #justsayin.

5. Networking

Networking is one of the fastest ways to get clients as a new business and is a fabulous local marketing strategy.

It’s also a contender for the Most Got Wrong Expense award.

Networking expenses may include:

  • Event fees
  • Membership fees
  • Business cards
  • Travel to and from
  • Food and drink

What’s tax-deductible?

  • Event fees – tax-deductible
  • Membership fees – tax-deductible
  • Business cards – tax-deductible
  • Travel – tax-deductible
  • Food and drink – not tax-deductible

That last one is where people get unstuck.

Food and drink at a networking event is only¬†tax-deductible if it is included in the fee for attending. If you pay a separate fee to attend (or it’s free) and you pay for food and drink separately, it is not tax-deductible (learn more).

If you’re having a one to one meeting, that food and drink is also not tax-deductible, even if they suggested it #sorry.

Learn more about the main tax return mistakes people make.

6. Advertising

Advertising is a common way of doing local marketing.

Advertising expenses may include:

  • Local newspapers
  • Local magazines
  • Your business logo on the side of your car

What’s tax-deductible?

  • Local newspapers – tax-deductible
  • Local magazines – tax-deductible
  • Your business logo on the side of your car – tax-deductible

This one is simple. It’s tax-deductible.

I’m sure there are some exceptions, but in nearly every case it’s tax-deductible.

7. Events

Attending an event is a great form of local marketing as well as an opportunity to sell.

Event expenses may include:

  • Attendance fees
  • Travel to and from
  • Flyers and leaflets
  • Materials, e.g. tablecloth, clips, frames
  • Branded merchandise, e.g. pens, mugs
  • Food and drink

What’s tax-deductible?

  • Attendance fees – tax-deductible
  • Travel to and from – tax-deductible
  • Flyers and leaflets – tax-deductible
  • Materials, e.g. tablecloth, clips, frames – tax-deductible
  • Branded merchandise, e.g. pens, mugs – tax-deductible
  • Food and drink – not tax-deductible, most of the time

That’s pretty simple. It’s nearly all tax-deductible.

Exceptions:

Your food and drink when you’re attending an event is usually not tax-deductible.

There is an exception if you’re the one holding the event (remember, it needs to be a free event as we’re talking marketing expenses). Then food and drink is a marketing expense.

So if you offer cake at your local marketing event, the cake becomes a marketing expenses, not a food and drink expense.

(The brownies featured here were part of the¬†Demystify Limited Companies retreat. There’s also brownies for everyone at the Tick Off Your Tax Return Retreat in London. YUM).

Another exception is if you sell food and drink as part of your business (e.g. cake, cupcakes, brownies). Then the food are samples and are treated differently.

 

So, most local marketing expenses are tax-deductible. Pretty cool huh? ūüôā

I hope my guide to which local marketing expenses are tax-deductible has helped you feel more confident, informed and empowered understanding what to do with your local marketing expenses.

Resources:

 

Which local marketing expenses do you have? Do you know if they’re tax-deductible?

Share with me on Facebook,¬†Twitter,¬†Instagram, follow me on Periscope¬†or leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

If you need support with local marketing expenses for your tax return,  get in touch.

If you’re interested in the Tick Off Your Tax Return retreat, only 5 minutes from the London Underground in ancient woodland,¬†learn more here.

If you need an at-your-own-pace tax return course that’s easy to understand, have a look at¬†How To Do Your Own Tax Return.

Try my free resources and download the expenses spreadsheet.

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