Can I deduct yoga teacher training from my taxes?

December 02, 2019 by Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA
Yoga Class

The day has come. You’re standing in your yoga class, going through your sun salutations and practicing your asanas. During Savasana, you think to yourself, “I’ve been doing yoga for ten years now, I should become a teacher! I know all the moves, I’m good at it, I just need to learn how to teach it now!” After class, you talk to your instructor about how to become a yoga teacher, and they agree it’s time for you to share your knowledge and skill in this ancient art of physical poses. You go online and find a nearby instructor training course for budding yogis, and happily pay the registration fee to start your training.

And maybe you didn’t think about it then, but now it’s tax time, and you are thinking about it now: Can you deduct the yoga teacher training? Just like there are hundreds of poses in yoga, the tax law is not so simple - and there are subtle variations that determine whether the answer is yes or no.

Generally, any education course you take which qualifies you for a new profession is not deductible. It doesn’t matter if it’s a yoga course or an MBA program; if it would qualify you for new work, then you cannot deduct it. So, if you’re working as a stockbroker or office worker and you decide you want a more physical and relaxing job like yoga instructor, you cannot deduct the cost of your program.

But what if you’re already a personal trainer or casually teaching yoga without going through a formal training class? Would the cost of a yoga instructor course be deductible then? If the course would maintain or improve the skills that are required in your current job, then you can probably deduct the yoga course. This is particularly true if your employer requests that you become a yoga instructor.

Of course, in order to deduct the cost at all, you must be self-employed in a related field, such as a personal trainer. This is because employees cannot currently deduct their work-related expenses, as miscellaneous itemized deductions were suspended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 for tax years 2018 through 2025. If you’re not self-employed already, you cannot deduct the cost of yoga instruction to start a business as it would be considered a start-up expense. Start-up expenses are deductible up to $5,000, but they cannot be deducted until you actually start your business. And with an occupation like yoga instruction, keep in mind that the IRS takes a closer look at this type of business and may apply the hobby loss provisions to your return if you consistently lose money on the business every year. But that’s a topic for another blog.

As always, it’s a good idea to do some research when it comes to your taxes, as there are no simple answers, and even a subtle change in facts can cause a different tax result. If you do get audited after deducting your yoga instruction, practice your ujjayi breathing, meditate, and reach for the phone to call TaxAudit to help you out.

Namaste.

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Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA
Learning Content Managing Editor

 

Carolyn has been in the tax field since 1984, when she went to work at the IRS as a Revenue Agent. Carolyn taught many classes at the IRS on both tax law changes and new hire training. In 1990, she left the IRS for a position at CCH, where she was a developer on both the service bureau software and on the Prosystevm fx tax preparation software for nearly 17 years. After leaving CCH she worked at several Los Angeles-based CPA firms before starting at TaxAudit as an Audit Representative in 2009. Carolyn became the manager of the Education and Research Department in 2011, developing course materials for the company and overseeing the research requests. Currently, she is the Learning Content Managing Editor. 


 

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