July 23, 2011

Getting the IRS to Pay for Your Yoga Training. ~Lucas Rockwood

Photo: Jack Zalium

“You must pay taxes, but there’s no law that says you need to leave a tip!”

I started putting together professional training courses for yoga teachers in 2006, but it wasn’t until a full two years later that yoga teachers first started asking for tax invoices after graduation. And even today, when I encourage people to claim a tax deduction (if they can), only about 3% of graduates do.

So what gives?

Photo: Mat Honan

This means that of the 500+ yoga students have come through my training programs, only around 15 of them are treating their yoga teaching career like a real business, keeping track of their finances and deducting real, honest expenses (such as professional training) from their end-of-year statements.

Remember this: when XZY Corp sends their entry level employees to a 2-day Microsoft Office training session (yes, these really do exist… just don’t ask me how I know!), that cost is written off as an expense. Hopefully, that’s not news to you.

But this might be news:

That yoga teacher training course you’ve wanted to do for years is probably tax deductible (read: much less expensive than you thought). And that yoga conference you went to last year in Boulder probably could have been written off — and maybe you can get back a portion of the $356 you’ve spent so far this year on yoga books and DVDs.

So who cares? And why does it matter?

Well, it’s not because taxes are any fun (they’re not) and not because I think every yoga teacher needs to become an entrepreneur (they shouldn’t). It’s simply a shame that yoga teachers haven’t been taught that they’re in business for themselves; and in many cases, a huge portion of their professional training and travel expenses can be deducted each year.

Photo: Flavio

If you’re like me and you invest in your own education constantly, that means you could save a lot of money that you can then use for whatever you want (health insurance, anyone?).

I’m in the camp that believes we don’t need any more broke yoga teachers, but if you’re in the camp that just doesn’t want to deal with money at all (fair enough), at the very least, why not claim your tax deduction and then give the money back to something you believe in? The IRS is cool with this, so go ahead and let them pay for some of your yoga courses.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I’m not a tax lawyer or a CPA, but no matter where you live in the world, if you bring a local accountant your invoices at the end of the year when you’re doing your taxes, he’ll tell you what you can and cannot write off in a matter of minutes. So go for it!


Lucas Rockwood is a yoga teacher trainer, yoga business coach, and serial entrepreneur. He’s the founder of YOGABODY Naturals, a yoga nutrition and education company; and he’s also the co-founder of the Absolute Yoga Teacher Training programs in Koh Samui, Thailand where he produces Yoga Alliance certification courses throughout the year all the way to the 500hr level. You can find Lucas at YOGABODY Naturals, Absolute Yoga or My Yoga Business

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