26 Tax Write-Offs for Caterers

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Pulling off the perfect event takes creativity and a fine attention to detail. From the perfect recipe to a showstopping presentation, you think of everything — at least, everything the customer sees. But too often, business owners neglect their own finances, especially when it comes to taxes.

But just like leaving the hors d'oeuvres in the oven too long, leaving your business expenses in your taxable income is a recipe for disaster. It’s time to take those sweet savings out, lower your tax bill, and give you back more of your hard-earned income to put toward your next event.

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Cooking equipment & supplies
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 22

You can write off pots, pans, spatulas, mixing bowls, and everything else you use to cook food.

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Food & ingredients
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 38 (COGS)

Any food or ingredients you use to cook meals for clients are write-offs.

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Dishes & utensils
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 22

Dishes, utensils, napkins, and other serving items can be deducted on your taxes.

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Transport containers
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 22

Bowls, pans, containers, and whatever you use to transport food to an event are write-offs.

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Kitchen space
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 20b

If you rent a kitchen to prepare catered meals, you can deduct it from your taxes.

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Certifications & licenses
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 23

Any required certifications or licensing fees can be deducted.

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Marketing materials
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 8

Business cards, brochures, service menus, and flyers promoting your business are deductible.

📣
Online advertising
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 8

Ad campaigns on Facebook, Google, Instagram, and more are all deductible on your taxes.

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Website & hosting fees
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 8

Squarespace, Wix, GoDaddy, and other website service fees are fully tax-deductible.

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Creative assistance
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 11

If you need to hire an editor, designer, photographer, or other creative pro, write off what you pay them.

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If you drive for work ...

As a freelance caterer, you'll likely need to zip around town for client meetings, venue visits, and to pick up fresh ingredients or cooking supplies.If you drive your own car for these things, you can claim car-related costs as a business expense.

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Parking
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 27a

Parking for a meeting downtown, or any other work trip, is tax-deductible!

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Tolls
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 27a

A toll while driving to or from a work destination is tax-deductible!

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Car purchase & depreciation
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 13

If you buy a new car, you can write off part of the cost every year for five years.

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Vehicle tool kit
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 22

Flashlights, tire iron, duct tape, and other tools you may need in your vehicle are deductible.

☂️
Car insurance & registration
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 15

Car insurance monthly fees, registration, even roadside assistance are partially deductible.

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Car maintenance
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 9

Oil changes, repairs, and regular checkups are all tax-deductible if you drive for work.

If you discuss work at a restaurant ...

Perhaps you want to take a client out for dinner to get a sense of the kind of food they enjoy. To the IRS, this is a business meal and can be written off your taxes.

Other potential business meals include going out for food or coffee with venue owners, event planners, or fellow caterers.

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Business meals
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 24b

If you discuss work with a coworker, mentor, client, or prospective client, it's a write-off!

If you leave town for work ...

If you're cooking up big out-of-town plans to take your business to the next level, such as catering an event, meeting with a client, or attending an industry workshop or conference, don't forget to write off your travel expenses.

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Transportation
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 24a

Planes, trains, and car rentals are all work-related travel costs that can be written off.

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Travel lodging
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 24a

When you travel for work, lodging expenses such as hotel rooms or Airbnb are write offs.

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Meals while traveling
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 24a

When you're traveling for work, all meals are tax-deductible. Even takeout!

If you work from home ...

A caterer might work from home on a number of things:

  • Cooking
  • Food prep
  • Testing new recipes
  • Managing finances and paperwork
  • Creating marketing materials
  • Working on client development

If you work from home regularly, you can deduct home office-related expenses.

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Home office furniture
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 18

A desk, chairs, lamps, and other home office necessities are all tax write-offs.

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Property repairs
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 21

You can write off up to $2,500 for individual repairs to your property.

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Power bill
Write it off using:

Form 8829

Gotta keep the lights on in your home office! A portion of your electricity bill counts.

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Property insurance
Write it off using:

Form 8829

Whether it's rental or homeowners insurance, you can write off a portion through your home office deduction.

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Water bill
Write it off using:

Form 8829

It'd be hard to work in an office without running water, huh? You water bill counts.

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Wi-Fi bill
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 25

Your Comcast bill is a tax write-off. You need internet to do your job!