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At some point in your working career you became a professional in what you do to earn your livelihood, but I bet you can’t remember the precise date or hour that day arrived.  The reason being is, for most people, the exact point of transformation from amateur to professional is nonexistent.  Becoming a professional is a “process” not a one-time leap into the unknown or a specific moment of arrival.  And, to make matters worse, a professional has many more advanced levels yet to achieve as time moves on.  So, when do you become a professional sportsman?

Ah, many will say, “Oh, not me.  I’m not ready for that yet and I never will be.”  Some will say, “I can’t score good enough to even dream of being a professional sportsman.”  Both reasoning is wrong.  You become a pro the moment you “decide” you will be!  Now this has nothing to do with positive thinking or enhancing self-esteem and self-worth.  This is purely a business proposition which you are making with yourself.  There comes a time in your life where you have to stop playing games and step over the line.

When was the last time you saw a very young sportsperson performing his game with a high performance that amazed you?  It could be a young golfer, bowler, target shooter or whatever.  The performance impressed you and captured your attention.  Yet, the young kid is too immature to be professional, but in his mind he has become professional while the spectators are watching with amazement.  Now, this young person may not be competing with the pros, but he/she is already taking full tax deductions for every penny spent on the sport.  Is that legal?  Yes, it is.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not require or place a limitation on age when taking tax deductions.  Child television and movie actors is a prime example.

So, the point I am getting at is there is nothing stopping you from enjoying your sport as you do right now and compete for prizes and money as you already do and start taking tax deductions for all your range fees, motels, vehicle repairs and maintenance including gasoline, oil changes, tires, clothing, lessons, equipment modifications, ammo, magazines, etc.  Even your new home computer, printer, office supplies, practice fees, new sporting equipment and vehicle loans, license, taxes, insurance.  It’s all tax deductible!

Everyone qualifies and age does not matter.  Working people and retired all qualify.  What amazes me is many sportsmen have never taken those tax deductions thinking that they can’t or that it may be complex to do.  Most people believe you must be a professional to take tax deductions, but that is not true.  You can be a novice, in training, an amateur.  The IRS never says you must be “professional status”.


Many sportspersons are working for a living at full-time jobs and they do not realize that they can begin taking tax deductions on every dime they spend on their sport and then adjust their W-2 tax withholding form with their employer and immediately see an increase in take home pay.  That is how your sport can give you an instant pay raise!  And there is more,  you can also receive huge tax refunds each year!  Times are tough, so why not give yourself a raise?  How much of a pay raise depends on how much money you spend on your sport each year.  As a starting point increase your monthly paycheck by $25 for each $1,000 you spend on your sport.  So, if you spend $3,000 this year, go ahead and adjust the W2 to give you an increase of $75 a month increase in take home pay.  If you think you will owe money to the IRS at year’s end you can then (before January as that starts a new tax year) buy sporting equipment to knock your tax liability back down to zero or obtain a IRS tax refund.  Everybody is different, so you will need to talk with your employer to see which formula works best for you.  In the mean time, try to calculate how much money you spent on your sport last year, so you can establish an approximate idea of your spending budget.  Don’t forget, with tax deductions you can now spend a lot more money than you usually do, a lot more money!  You can take loans if you don’t have the savings in cash and it makes good sense too, because it is all going to be tax deducted, every single penny in principle and interest.


Costs are rising due to the relentless ravages of inflation driving up the costs of everything, but your wages are not keeping up.  By taking tax deductions you drive those costs back down and make your sport affordable once again and for ever.  As costs rise, so do your deductions and so will your tax refunds.  As you can see, you can’t lose!  Everyone in the sport benefits.  The club where you play your sport benefits, you benefit and when you teach other sportsmen about taking tax deductions you are benefiting them and the entire sport.  It’s just a matter of getting smart about the game you play and then play by the rules.  If the government says you can take tax deductions on the bills you are paying then you should absolutely take full advantage of this opportunity.  You have so much to gain!  Let’s say you spend $5,000 on a sporting item it may only cost you $3,000 or less as your tax deduction and refund kicks in.  For some it can be free.  How?  Well, if your spending drives you down into lower tax brackets your tax liability decreases, your tax refund increases and it can easily trigger thousands of dollars in tax refund checks to you.  This is a very powerful money-making machine.  You really should be taking tax deductions and if that means you must start your own sole proprietorship business, then do it.  Time is wasting and you can start right now, today.  


The key to all these benefits is that you must pass one small test.  This test is easy to pass, a no brainer.  If you can answer yes to this question then the green light is on.  “Can you reasonably expect to earn money in the sport and hopefully turn a profit within three years?”  Well, many sports qualify.  Here’s a few; trap shooting, sporting clays, rifle, pistol, golf, bowling.  Any sport that you can play to win money qualifies.  Even prizes qualify if you can later sell the prize and convert it to cash.  What if your sport does not qualify?  Consider playing a new sport that does so you can begin to take tax deductions and enjoy both sports.  Give clay target shooting sports a try.  It is fun and it can be very profitable for it is one of the very few sports where the novice can actually compete against the pros.  We have articles to get you started on our Web site: JamesRussellPublishing.com

If the answer is yes to the simple test mentioned above then you now need to declare yourself a professional sportsman.  Just say, “Today, I have crossed over the line and I have become a professional in training.”  Ah, you have done it.  You are now a professional sportsman and that means from this day forward, every penny you spend on your sport is now tax deducted from your total earnings and you are entitled to every tax deduction a business may obtain.  You have just started your own business.

Now get this.  Unlike a traditional business, you don’t have to apply for any business license, no business fees, no business taxes, no fictitious business name notices in the newspaper, no lawyer, no accountant (you can be your own accountant with computer software), no state franchise tax board account because you are not selling anything to other people, no business insurance, no property inspections or special taxes, no inventory, warehousing, partnerships, etc. 

How easy is this?  You start your own business as easy as reading this article.  That’s how fast and painless it is to start your own sportsmen’s sole-proprietor business.  The moment you said, “Yes” it is done!  The federal IRS and the state government does not require you to fill out any applications or forms or obtain a tax status license or permits.  Essentially, nothing changes from yesterday to today.  One day you are not a businessperson, the next day you are.  Its actually a personal decision. And, if you try it and you don’t like it?  You are under no obligation to explain why you quit your business at any time or for any reason whatsoever.  So, when you do begin, all you need to do is keep good records (which my Professional Sportsman’s Expense Log Book will do for you)     


Do everything you normally do.  The only things that will change is that you need to keep a record of every penny you spend on your sport and you will need to create an accounting system.  I have written a book to get you started with tips and advice and will keep your expenses organized.  It will serve you well and save you money and pay you back hundreds of times over.  Consider it a good investment and guess what?  It is tax deductible!  The book is, Professional Sportsman’s Expense Log Book, ISBN #978-0-916367-61-9.  You can order the book from Shotgun Sports Magazine, our Web site or any bookstore can special order it for you.   

Don’t worry about accounting.  You can pay an accountant if you wish to do your taxes which is only a few added IRS forms added to your current taxes or you can purchase Quickbooks accounting software.  I say buy the software, take your tax deduction on that too, and just follow the easy instructions on using the software.  Need a new computer and printer?  Go buy an expensive one as that is your business equipment and it is tax deductible.


Generally, as you are right now without a business when you buy a computer say for $2,000 you spend the money and you get nothing back.  Not a single penny comes back to you.  But, not anymore!  That entire $2,000 can now be taken off your gross yearly earnings, so the IRS now has to issue you a refund because they overtaxed you.  This is a simplification so you can understand how it works.  When you add up all your sports expenses from equipment, fees, lessons, gasoline, hotels, meals, etc., etc., it can be many thousands of dollars at year’s end.  You deduct those expenses from your tax liability and presto!  You get a huge tax refund check.  Nothing has changed. It’s just that now you get the tax breaks other people don’t obtain.


Now here comes the good part.  You have always wanted a new competition shotgun (or other sporting item) but it costs too much money.  Let’s say it costs $8,000.  Well, you can take a personal loan (it need not be a business loan) and write off that $8,000 and all the interest payments too!  So, with interest the gun cost you $10,000 that comes off your taxes at year’s end, or you may spread out the cost over three years or more and deduct a portion of the cost each year.  That is called depreciation.  Do you see the benefit here?  There are many sportspersons who have spent huge sums of money on clothing, equipment, lessons, etc., and have never taken advantage of the refunds they could have received.  Why?  Because they did not know they could do it.  Now you know that you can!  What has always been unaffordable is now affordable.  You can have what you want and what you need.


And don’t forget, you can deduct a new truck, car or RV from your taxes too and all the expenses associated with it.  If you need a RV (trailer or motor home) so you can stay overnight at competitive events then that RV is now a business expense.  If you bought a travel trailer then you need a truck to pull it and that truck (new or used) is now a business expense.  Depending on how you use the vehicles they may be 100% business use or partial business use.  If you use the vehicles for personal and business use then you can only deduct the portion that is used for business. Say, 50% business use and 50% personal use, so you split the cost in half and tax deduct 50% off all the fixed costs and daily operating expenses and it goes on for years as you amortize the costs on your taxes.  That’s a fabulous deal.  How many sportsman did you know were not getting any deductions and no refunds on their major purchases?  Plenty.  It’s because they did not know they could do these things.  And, if you set up an office in your home a percentage of your home expenses can also be deducted from taxes.  That’s right.  Electric, heating bill, water, sewer, taxes are all partially deductible.  In reality, those who do not take tax deductions are certainly losing a lot of cash year-after-year.  Why not put a stop to all this waste of money?  Perhaps your family will see the benefits of your sport being a lot greater than they currently see it to be when you start saving and earning money instead of just seeing your sport as a financial liability, an expensive hobby.  You should turn it into a business and now you can.  Give it a try.


Yes and no.  You need three years of spending and usually lots of spending in any business to get started and hopefully earn a profit in three years.  What if you opened a sandwich shop and in three years you still could not earn a profit.  With the IRS shut them down?  Unlikely.  Why?  Because they operate like a legitimate business with a reasonable chance of success.  The same is true with your sports business.  Keep good solid records, run your business professionally and keep trying to earn a profit.  When you do earn a profit, pay the tax you owe and away you go, you are in the money!  If you fail in three years you can take a one year break and start again, or just keep on trying.  The worse that can happen on the fourth or fifth year and you can’t earn a profit?  The IRS could say you are operating a “hobby” not a business and deny your deductions. But you can fight that and win especially if you have ranked in competitions and earned money doing so.  It is the “potential” to earn money that is important.  If you were competing and could not earn money that would be a hobby for sure, but if you can earn money and you do, but not always, it is a business.  It may be a tough and competitive business, but it is a business all the same.


When you run your business there is no reason to be dishonest.  Every expense you pay you can write off, so do so.  When you win money, record it properly as earned income.  Don’t hide it.  Tax evasion is nothing to play around with and there is no reason to hide any earnings from the IRS.  The odds are you are going to lose money for three years anyway, and you can do so by design if you so wish.  That’s right.  You can intentionally spend like crazy for three years buying all the wonderful items you need to run your business and it if fails in three years you still get to keep all those things.  You just can’t take any more tax deduction on the them if you decide to quit your business at the end of three years.  That is up to you.  There is no law saying you can’t do this.  I am not saying to fraudulently run up bills just so you can get things and then go out of business, I am saying you can spend your money on business essentials to your maximum ability and if you fail, well, your business just fails.  Fraud is when you do something with the “intent” to defraud.  So, don’t start your sports business just to get tax deductions with “no intentions” of earning money.  You must compete in competitions and you must play some of the money options to earn income.  You can’t just start a business with no intent to earn money.  That is why the three year limitation is in place.  Just be honest in your dealings and you will be okay.  Don’t inflate bills to take bigger tax deductions.  Keep receipts.  Be prudent.  The IRS is not out to get you.  If you are honest you will pass their tests and any audits. If you are honest and operate your business with the intent to make a profit you have nothing to fear in a tax audit.  Now, most sportspersons are not going to be audited anyway so don’t even worry about it.  Don’t let fear ruin a good opportunity.


Easy.  You learn by doing.  When you read my book, Professional Sportsman’s Expense Log Book you will begin recording your gasoline, sports fees and other expenses right away.  It’s all laid out for you so you just fill in the blanks.  This is the book to get you started and well on your way.  The advice in the book will then give you direction to learn more of what you will need to learn.  What is amazing is that you won’t need to learn much more than what you already know now!  For many sportsman, all they will need is the book and nothing else.  For others, that want to advance to do their own accounting and taxes, then you need to learn to use a computer, printer and software.  Rome was not built in a day.  Just begin the process right now.  Get the book and learn as you go.  I promise, it will not be hard to learn.   


Just because you can now spend money and take loans to buy business equipment for your sport does not mean you can be irresponsible.  Consider that the economy can shift to the negative, you could lose your job and be stuck with huge expenditures.  Don’t be greedy.  Just start the process taking your tax deductions and consider buying the things you can “afford” to buy.  It’s just now that you own your business you can now afford to buy more expensive things.  Resist the urge to go too deep into debt or overextend yourself.  For many sportsman it can mean not changing any spending habits at all and just taking advantage of the tax deductions and maybe buying yourself a nice business gift here and there.  For others, they may want to go full-bore for three years and go for the gusto to reap the financial rewards of the business enterprise taking the risks to excel beyond their expectations.  Remain true to yourself.  Just because you now own a business does not mean you have to spend money like crazy.


1st Year:  Spend about 30% more than what you spent last year.  Then around October, take a look at your spending and examine a IRS chart (shown in IRS free booklets) showing your tax liability and spend more money if your spending can benefit you more by putting you in a lower tax bracket and trigger a bigger tax refund check for you.  You could discover all of your purchases are free of charge.

2nd Year:   Spend about 40-50% more than you did in your first year mentioned in the above paragraph.  Invest as much as you comfortably can.  Examine your spending and tax bracket on the IRS chart and make adjustments from there to get the desired results.  You decide what spending level is right for you.

3rd Year:  This is the year you must show a profit. It is time to go all out in your spending to your maximum ability and comfort level will permit.  This is the time to get the most valuable sporting equipment money can buy and invest in a library of books, tapes, DVD’s, personal instruction and compete in as many events as you can to earn the largest amount of money.  Even if you don’t win, this is the year to give it your best shot.  Remember, every penny spent in your business is fully tax deductible.

4th Year:  If you are still showing a loss of income and lack of profit the IRS could question your tax return and disallow all your sports business spending.  It is possible, but unlikely as long as you kept proper records and operate your business as a business and not as a hobby.  You will learn more about this later and you have three years to learn about and prepare for it, so you should not even be bothered with it at this point in time.  You can even quit your business and start it up again a year from now and you will have another three years to earn a profit.  Remember, just because you did not make a profit does not mean your business is a hobby.  You can challenge any IRS decision.  I will share a secret.  If you can show a profit, even a $1 profit for this third (or fourth year), then you pass the test and the IRS can’t deny your tax returns as a hobby.

5th Year:  Keep on playing your sports game and keep on keeping accurate records. 


I will give you another reason why you need my book, Professional Sportsman’s Expense Log Book the pages in the book are perfect bound.  It means the pages are glued into the book permanently and can’t be altered, shifted around and manipulated.  Courts, including IRS tax courts, must recognize the book as “evidence” and it is “binding” upon the court in your favor.  That is why you can’t use loose-leaf or spiral binding as the pages can be removed and altered and that makes these books “inadmissible evidence” in court and is thrown out of court leaving you to hang.  You now have zero evidence to defend your position and protect your case.  This also true for computer generated log books, they are not admissible in court.  As you can see, the perfect bound book pays for itself many times over and will be your best friend to defend you if the IRS ever decides to audit you or disallow your deductions.  You will wish you had that book if you ever do get into a scrape with the IRS.  Remember, your computer files will not defend you in court as well as a perfect bound expense book will.  Keeping a log book with receipts also demonstrates another fact, you are not operating a hobby but keeping accurate and precise business recordation’s and that is strong evidence in your favor.  Hobby people lose their cases because they never operated professionally as a business and failed to keep adequate records.

The book is so easy to fill out to record your expenses and it only takes less than a minute to do so.  You log your expenses the moment you pay for them.  It’s so convenient.    



Talk to any knowledgeable business person and they can tell you how tax deduction work for a business.  Go to the IRS office in your city and obtain the free booklets they have about starting a business.  Speak to a IRS officer who is familiar with a sportsperson sole proprietorship and ask for advice.  Don’t speak with the receptionist clerk behind the desk as they know nothing and will only mislead you.  They will likely tell you that you can’t even do it and that we know is not true, you can.  Speak to a professional sportsperson if you can as they do take tax deductions as a business.  There is no reason to doubt anymore.  The purpose of this article is to tell you the good news that you can take tax deductions on your sport and to do so all you need is to begin.  How about right now?  Get the book, read it so you can gear up, study, learn, read the IRS booklets in the months leading up to January next year to begin your business.  But you don’t have to wait until January.  If you start now, regardless of month, you can make that month of the year the beginning of your “fiscal year” and then base your tax deductions on that yearly basis.  Nothing is stopping you from starting your business right now!  And for goodness sake, don’t let anybody talk you out of this fabulous opportunity.  Get started right away.  


Take a look through your favorite sports magazines, catalogs and browse around the pro shops and imagine the finest equipment money can buy can now be yours.  Think about the high quality lessons and instructions you can now obtain from books, DVD’s and the personal tutoring from professional sportsmen that can accelerate your learning and launch you into a higher standing in your game.  Now you can afford to take their advice on getting the proper equipment that fits you, so you can compete with confidence and earn the money available to you.  If you are already competing in sports and winning money (sometimes at least) then your dream is closer than you may realize.  It is just within reach.  An amazing thing happens when you become a professional, you usually end up being a professional.  It all begins the day you decided to boldly step forward over that imaginary line.  When you do step over that line it does not mean you are professional at that point, but it does mean you are now well on your way.  In the meantime, while you are still in training, get busy taking your tax deductions, buy your professional equipment and get into the game.


Many of the money sports are struggling to make ends meet with rising expenses and this trend is not going to reverse itself unless we sportsmen turn it around.  When the individual sportsperson becomes professional in training and begins taking tax deductions the money will begin to flow from the sportsman, who can now afford to buy the equipment and supplies he needs, and this benefits the suppliers kick-starting the sporting economy in a major way that will benefit all sportspersons playing the sport.  Then we will see competitions become larger and the purse money to be won increase as there is more money available to all.  So, tell your sports friends all about this new opportunity to better themselves and I hope you also share with them the news of my Professional Sportsman’s Expense Log Book that will absolutely get them started right away.  Together we can better each and everyone as we share this good news.  If you love the sport then tell your friends how they too can take tax deductions.  The opportunity is there, we just have to use it and the problem is, too few do so.  Share this article with other sportsmen in your town.


It really is as easy as it sounds to start taking tax deductions as a sportsman.  As a professional book publisher I have been taking tax deductions for years as a business.  As a trap shooter I have taken business tax deductions in the sport and I have bought expensive things only to have most of my money returned back to me.  You can too and that is why I wrote this article and my book to help you and to help others to do the same.  Every day you delay is money you are throwing away.  If you spent $5,000 on your sport last year will you take $5,000 off your taxes and get a portion of that money back?  You can and you should for it is easy to do.  You can’t win if you don’t play.  You have heard it said, “To the winner goes the gold.”  This is not gamble, it’s a sure thing.   

You can decide to say no and just keep on paying the bills or you can say yes and give it a try and see for yourself the money you can be earning and the nice things you can have.  “The time to become professional is right now.  Tomorrow never arrives.” – James Russell

Pro Expense Log Book Click here to buy the book.