Professional Athletes

Today TaxMama hears from Kandi in Iowa, who asks, “Would a professional bodybuilder be allowed to deduct expenses associated with training/contest preparation? I was told they can deduct traveling expense and contest entry fees directly related to competition. What about supplements, training, posing suits, tanning and other miscellaneous expenses incurred to prepare for competition?”

Dear Kandi,

If your friend is audited, he should be prepared to defend each expense related to the second set of deductions. Hold firm, and you will win.

I have worked with non-filer clients (which means guaranteed audits) who are athletes, athletic trainers and body builders.

In their cases, the gym fees are deductible. Naturally, the training costs are ordinary and necessary.

When it comes to the suits and garments of any kind – if they wear those things outside the gym, they will lose the deductions. On the other hand, those things wear out quickly and need to be replaced often so they generate substantial deductions.

When wearing garments with their own logo or their graphics, that’s an advertising expense. When wearing garments with their sponsor’s logos, again, that’s an advertising expense – if they pay for the garments. When you have several sponsors, you pay to produce the garment. When you have one sponsor, they provide the clothes for you.

Tanning and other grooming/appearance costs – deduct them and support your deduction with photos in the files, from competitions, magazines, etc. Deduct these for tanning and grooming only before public appearances or on-camera events.

Your friend will prevail, as long as this is their business – with a profit motive. In other words, the goal is earn enough money to live on – not just an occasional medal or small monetary prize.

Ah, the supplements? How are they different from normal food or vitamins your athlete must eat. He must, after all eat, yes? Your friend will probably lose on those deductions.

Have him look at each expense he has and see how to establish documentation in the file for its business nature. if he does it right, he will survive all audits.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about athletes’ deductions and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At TaxMama.com

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