Author Topic: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?  (Read 1196 times)

ketchup

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3357
  • Age: 27
Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« on: December 15, 2017, 09:34:35 AM »
My girlfriend is a self-employed photographer.

She pays $70/mo for 1000mbps down/250mbps up fiber internet service.  She pays about $50/mo for T-mobile unlimited talk/text/data on her smartphone. 

Both are used for both personal and business use.  If either or both were only used for personal use, they would be on cheaper plans. 

I know she can deduct them both based on a percentage of use, but how in the world does one quantify that?  Do you just guess or make something up?  Everything I find online simplifies into something like "well, you worked for eight hours on the internet and did personal stuff on the internet for two hours, therefore deduct 80%" but that doesn't really make any sense. 

"Logically" to me, what should be able to get deducted is the premium she pays that she wouldn't otherwise if it was used only for personal use, but that doesn't really fit the "percentage of time used" model.  Internet access and smartphones aren't machines that you turn on for one purpose and then turn them on later for another purpose.  She might set up a bunch of files to upload and then walk away and eat an ice cream cone.  Do you include the time eating the ice cream cone? Or... do I do it by percentage of data use? What if I'm watching Netflix in the other room while she's uploading 10GB of photos?  I might use more data in that scenario, but hers will be going faster due to the fancy internet speed (and being able to do that quickly is the reason for the fast connection, not necessarily being able to move *more* data).  My "increased use" isn't more costly to us; it's not like an electric bill.  So, do I go by percentage of time at peak speeds? That seems kind of dumb.

Maybe 80% of her minutes on the phone talking are for work, 40% of her texts, and 30% of data use - but these all vary.  How the hell does that translate over into a percentage of her bill since it's all-you-can-eat?

Every time I think about this there's no good way to measure any of it; am I missing something?  Should I just say forget it and not deduct it at all (this has been my "strategy" in the past)?
« Last Edit: December 15, 2017, 09:40:29 AM by ketchup »

Laserjet3051

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 475
  • Age: 50
  • Location: SoCal
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2017, 01:57:15 PM »
PTF

(I havent found any reliable "formula" that addresses this either)

MMbergmann

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2017, 09:24:39 PM »
Ok So, at most you could deduct 100% or 1440. @ 25% this is 360$. Doesn't sound worth it to me.

Alternatively, as an accountant I would go with SALY or same as last year. Don't ask why, because clearly you like to over think things.

jpdx

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 152
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2017, 10:07:19 PM »
I love this post, because I have always wondered the same thing.

If audited, the IRS might ask you to substantiate the business percentage you have deducted. For a cell phone bill, this means going through the bill and indicating which calls (and durations) are for business use, in order to calculate at a percentage. I can't imagine many people actually perform this grueling task, nor does this work in the modern world where so much communication is conducted with data or texting.

Here's what I do: deduct 50% and call it a day. What do the CPAs on this board recommend?

MMbergmann

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2017, 05:48:35 AM »
As a CPA, I recommend the above I posted. SALY (same as last year). and then stick with it.

DavidAnnArbor

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1656
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2017, 07:22:13 AM »
I deduct 100% of internet and cell phone, though I probably shouldn't be.

JohnGalt79

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 26
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2017, 01:36:09 PM »
As a CPA, I recommend the above I posted. SALY (same as last year). and then stick with it.

Great.  What do you recommend in year 1?

MMbergmann

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2017, 06:06:37 PM »
That would depend on the amount(whether it is high dollar value or low), the amount of tax you are saving, risk tolerance, etc. Do as you please, within reason.

Disclaimer, do not take this as tax advice.

BTDretire

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2062
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2018, 07:01:17 AM »
I deduct 100% of internet and cell phone, though I probably shouldn't be.

 I deduct 100% of our two non-smart phones, about $60 a month.

burninglights

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2018, 09:42:12 AM »
I deduct 100% as well. However, I do mental health work and think I can make a case that I need phone/internet 24/7 for crisis purposes, so our situations may not be compatible. I have not been audited though so it's kind of a moot point I guess.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2993
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2018, 11:22:52 AM »
1. You're WAY overthinking this. Chill
2. I'd probably either do 50% or 100%. Make it easy.

Kathryn K.

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 130
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2018, 06:12:05 PM »
Per my CPA, I deduct 100% of both. Gray areas like this are where I find it's worthwhile to get professional help on taxes.

jpdx

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 152
Re: Deducting cost of internet connection and cell phone?
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2018, 01:39:28 AM »
Per my CPA, I deduct 100% of both.

Did your CPA provide an explanation that you can share with us?
« Last Edit: January 08, 2018, 01:41:11 AM by jpdx »