Fauxtography is a Crime

If you aren’t paying taxes and you’re selling your photos, it IS a big deal. Unless you like prison or something.

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  1. I had lots of people ask my why I bothered to pay taxes on my photography when “nobody would ever know”. Well, I’d know. I have moral issues with people keeping what isn’t theirs. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy paying taxes, but it is what is mandated, therefore I do it. Besides, the punishment is not worth it. I want to be able to show my work publicly and hope to grow into a full time studio at some point. I can’t do that if I’m always looking over my shoulder.

    • Hear, hear. πŸ™‚

    • Wsroadrunner

      Agreed. If someone is charging for their work then that person needs to step up to the plate and obtain proper sales tax licenses (and any others that may apply for where they are working) and collect and pay in the taxes.

    • If your business is still growning, there’s a good chance that your expenses and revenues pace each other closely enough to significantly reduce your taxable income.

      If you’re not claiming everything from mileage, to location fees, tand depreciation on your equipment, you may be overpaying according to what the government actually wants. Be meticulous in your receipt collecting, and make sure you at least check with an accountant to make sure you’re crippling your business by only playing by half of the rules.

  2. Wow. I’ve always liked your site because it’s mean & irreverent fun. But now you’ve officially become a wet blanket. Lighten up.

  3. That is great! Shall I post this video on the “fauxtographer’s” Facebook pages and websites? lol

  4. two thumbs up.. even though I don’t live in America, I can’t understand why people don’t pay taxes if they should… after all, you drive on the roads, want safety measures like traffic lights and pedestrian crossings on them, work in buildings authorised by safety inspectors, you send your kids to school and they play sports on public grounds, you expect the police and other emergency services to be there when you need them, same with nurses and hospitals and yet you won’t put in a small share towards it?? you aren’t robbing “the man”, you are stealing from your fellow countrymen, in particular, those dependent on govt provided services and you are absolutely showing how incredibly unprofessional you really are.

  5. Ok, this is stupid, thats like taxing the musician playing for tips on the street corner, its retarded.

    • underhhhreed

      only if they are doing it for free and asking for tips…..

    • Anonymous

      uh oh…

    • If you have a legitimate business, then you are required to pay taxes like any other business. How would you feel if big corporations didn’t pay taxes? Wait a minute … that sounds familiar …
      But seriously, some here are always complaining about fauxtographers who don;t have a business license and don’t operate the way a real business should. So not it’s time to ACT like a real business and pay taxes that may be due. And for all the fauxtogs out there who aren’t? Maybe they should reconsider what they’re doing.

    • The man on the street corning is providing a service. The sales tax is for goods like prints and frames. One does not collect sales tax for the session.

      • Not true, in the state of Oklahoma at least you Photography is one of the only professions in which you have to pay taxes on a “service” like a sitting fee. I would double check with your state…

      • In NC, you don’t pay sales tax on the service, but you do on the images, even if just a download. It is considered ‘digital property’ or something like that. They just started it in 2010. I’m late sometimes, but I do collect and pay the tax.

      • Candy Howard

        Actually, you do have to pay sales tax on services in NC.

  6. Derek,

    Who do you think pays for that street corner?

  7. Be sure to watch this other videos!! Good stuff!!

  8. I find the name of the law hilarious “Theft of state funds”. Sounds like you’ve robbed Fort Knox or something. πŸ˜€

  9. Exxon Mobil, BofA, Chase, and Verizon (plus others) need to see this video!!!! http://www.pbn.com/Thirty-top-companies-profited-without-paying-tax-study-finds-,62433

  10. Um, in Virginia, you only have to pay sales tax on sales. Business revenue is handled by a completely different process. Photography, especially in the digital age, becomes a much more complicated issue – after all, you don’t pay sales tax on a designer’s work on your letterhead, but you do pay sales taxes on the pre-printed letterhead you have produced from that.

    The border between work for hire and sales of product become very gray indeed – if we are to charge sales tax for digital files delivered to a client, then every designer and graphic artist must charge sales tax as well for every bit of piecework they do.

    Likewise, every person who does SEO and social media would have to charge sales tax for the work they do, since it is the delivery of digital content.

    So, you would do well to talk to a local tax attorney before accepting this FUD as literal fact. Professional services and work for hire is not covered under sales tax in most jurisdictions.

    I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, but I do deal with sales tax as a programmer.

  11. Do not believe everything you see on youtube. This guy had a lot of impressive letters trailing his name… but it’s not a surprise to me that J.D. wasn’t among them.

    Why? Because his understanding of Florida Theft of State Funds is the legal equivalent of a pair of spot colored blue jeans with a soft focus filter and white vignetting.

    The controlling Florida Statute expressly defines depriving the state of funds as one that requires the intentional act of depriving the government of state funds as a felony.

    “(2) Any person who, *with intent* to unlawfully deprive or defraud the state of its moneys or the use or benefit thereof, fails to remit taxes collected under this chapter is guilty of theft of state funds..:”
    Section 212.15(2), Florida Statutes 2007 (emphasis added).

    I’ll spare you the details, but its the same with failure to remit sales tax… in order to be guilty of a felony for failing to remit sales tax, you have to have collected sales tax from the client in the first place, and then intentionally kept it.

    I guess the irony of it all is that this video belongs on “youarenotalawyer.com” He clearly fits into the bunch of offended “professionals” that cry every time someone picks up a camera with no formal training, he sure has a lot of balls jumping into a profession that requires a graduate degree, passing a rather thorough bar exam, and mandatory continuing education.

    • Fear Uncertainty Doubt

      Lol, nice catch. I guess “anyone can read the law themselves” is different than “anyone can buy a good camera”.

      As I was watching, I had to call shenanigans on his warning people of prison sentences. As if the state of Florida is going to cram some photographer into their overcrowded prisons because of unpaid taxes. States want their money. They will come after you for it and go away when you pay it. No one goes to jail for a few thousand dollars. If they did half the building contractors out there would be in prison.

  12. Some of you are forgetting FEDERAL TAXES….you still need to pay those regardless of the sales tax issues in your state. And, if you sell albums, prints, hand them a CD, yup-that is tangible. Funny or not, if you are not paying taxes, insuring your equipment etc-you do a disservice to the profession because you are NOT a pro.

  13. I don’t think you have to buy equipment insurance to be a professional. Liability insurance? yes! I make a good enough living that I choose to insure my own equipment instead of paying a greedy insurance company.

  14. fake photographers suck.

  15. just a thought

    These conversations are similar to the ones I hear gradeschool age kids having…except with more big words. You know which ones I’m talking about right? “But Ms. Teacher, Johnny did it. Why can’t I?” Or, “Its not fair!” (While stomping your foot and running off to tattle.) Seriously, let the government worry about taxes, and you worry about…you.

  16. Wes,
    Do you know what liability insurance means?
    It has nothing to do with insuring your equipment.
    It insures you against a client, passerby, your mom, or Uncle Bob filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against you if your camera explodes and scars Future Model’s flawless complexion with shrapnel injuries. Reconstruction is costly.
    Or if Aunt Mary brings little Betty Sue to your premises for her modeling photos, and darned little Betty twirls her baton into your most expensive and most fragile piece of equipment, the insurance, would provide you with the funds to replace the equipment.
    I trust you “make a good enough living” to hire the best legal team.
    I recommend http://www.nolo.com.
    You scrawled,
    “I don’t think you have to buy equipment insurance to be a professional. Liability insurance? yes! I make a good enough living that I choose to insure my own equipment instead of paying a greedy insurance company.”

  17. I love this guy!

  18. In our country, if you claim income from photography or the like as a hobby, you don’t need to pay taxes up to a certain threshold. Above that you are a sole trader and required to pay taxes. So if one is charging people for a service, even if the work sucks, if your meant to pay taxes then pay them. Simple. If it’s a hobby, then don’t tell people you’re professional. Can’t have it both ways. If your not paying up, when you get an audit or someone dobs you in, then you only have yourself to blame and ignorance is never an excuse where the taxman is concerned.

  19. get off your high horse

    So tired of the uppity photographers who look down on people who are trying to break into photography, by calling them “fauxtographers” .. just because someone isn’t at the level of being able to afford a studio, hire assistants, and book $12k weddings, doesn’t make them ‘less of a photographer’ than you are. It just means they’re earlier in the curve than you may be. I’m guessing you didn’t come out of the womb with a camera in your hand, charging $1000 sitting fees and knowing everything there is to know about running a business and shooting a camera. We all have to go through the learning process. I’m sure that there are some people here who didn’t immediately start charging sales tax and reporting income on their first dollar they made from someone. We ALL start somewhere, and for those of you who are so full of yourselves and being so condescending to everyone else – YOU are the ones who give photographers a bad name.

    • I didn’t come out of my mothers womb holding a camera, but I studied it, worked hard even for “free” for several years, and when I started as a second shooter and assistant, at first all I got in the form of being paid was experience and the chance to build my portfolio. Then, eventually I was paid as an assistance which I had to pay taxes.
      Not everyone breaks into photography this way and there are very talented photographers out there who have taught themselves. What many professional photographers including myself are against are the people who are calling themselves professional with little or no experience charging clients for photography that is not of professional quality for example out of focus, poorly lit, or SOOC that has no composition etc.

      I have not got a problem with people wanting to get into photography as it is a rewarding and wonderful career to get into, BUT, when you are starting out you have to take baby steps, and learn, build a good portfolio, be able to handle and take criticism and grow as a photographer. I have been in the industry for 10 years, and have paid taxes from the get go. It’s not about being full ourselves, but for some of us we take what we do seriously and for some have worked hard for the title as a professional photographer.

  20. It’s not “theft of state funds”. It’s tax evasion. The state has to have the funds before you can steal them. I like the idea of going after fauxtographers, but this guy doesn’t know jack about business or taxes.

    • It’s pretty simple really. The DOR doesn’t care if you charged the client sales tax or not – if you’re selling a tangible product and not sending the state an amount equivalant to the sales tax rate in your county/city, then you’re stealing funds from the state.

  21. Anonymous

    The banner at the top is funny.. It’s not really talent, it’s just understanding the rules.

  22. my single question is my state mentions that
    “Photographers operating photographic studios for the purpose of taking photographs and portraits are primarily engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property to their customers and such sales are taxable. ”

    Does a studio mean any type of paid photography, or just if you bring them into your building, with your set up? Sorry, I blatantly just don’t know, and it mentions NOTHING about just selling pictures. there is no “or” in that statement, only and, which means it includes —–.
    If I’m just wrong, let me know, i was just trying to get into photography as a semi-pro (not pro, only in high-school at the moment), so this is where grey-area comes into play. If I go to them, and take pictures of them, is it taxable in the state of South Carolina.

  23. Anonymous

    OK People. I think the problem here is understanding double taxation and the hobby laws in your state. I am a photographer, I sell my photographs, and I do not collect taxes for my transactions nor do pay a quarterly amount of taxes to the state. Why? Because I pay taxes on everything on the front end. Everything that I sell, I already paid taxes for when I purchased it so I can sell it again and not need to charge taxes. Professional photographers need to collect taxes because they don’t pay taxes when making purchases for their companies. That’s the difference between a business and a hobby. You can make all the money you want with a hobby as long as you swallow all the taxes that go along with it on the front end. As long as it doesn’t exceed your states mandated amount for hobby income your fine. Otherwise you’d have to collect taxes for having a garage sale or bake sale or any other kind of sale.

    Where did I get my information? Lawyers and Tax professionals. Seriously guys go see some.

  24. I wonder if there are blogs like “You Are Not a Lawyer” or “You Are Not a Tax Accountant” where people are tearing this guy apart in their comments.

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