Though my avocation is storyteller, as many of you know, in "real life" I am a Financial Advisor. Recently I had opportunity to talk with some storytellers about the business aspects of what they do. Most of it is easily transferable to all of us as Santas. this is the first of several. I would ask if you comment, try to stick to the topics here. Other topics I will mention and we can discuss later.
First all, determine if this is a business or hobby. If this is all you do, that is easy to determine. If like me you do several types of "entertainment", it can be either. In my case, I do not track Santa income and expense separately, but as line items in my overall "business". Therefore, if I have income from Santa or from doing a gig as a storyteller or even as a motivational speaker, it is still income from my business I categorize as "entertainer" on my tax forms. The easiest way to make a good determination is to talk to your tax man. Unless you are pretty good at tax law and changes, obtain the help of someone who actually deals with entertainers. It is really worth it because they know all the things to look for.
Several things to remember; if you are going to claim it is a business, you can't claim to lose money every year. It can be helpful to your tax situation, but you do not want the IRS to view it as a planned loss each year. If you do plan to claim it - KEEP EVERYTHING!!! More on this later.
Office: Do you have a specific room set aside for your Santa business? I do have an office in my home for my real job. I alsoou use that room for my storytelling business, so there is not an issue for me. If you do claim a portion of your home for your business it must be dedicated. This is NOT a bedroom with a closet for suits and "stuff" and maybe a desk in a corner. It can be a bedroom dedicated to your business... no bed, no dresser, unless it is for storing Santa stuff. Keep it honest.
If you have a 2,000 square foot home - traditional space, and you use a room that is 10'x20', then that 200 square feet would be 1/10th of your home. Then it would follow that 1/10th of the mortgage, property taxes, insurance, electric and other utilities. Remember that cable TV really is not a utility you should count. Telephone is different and I'll mention it later. Again, KEEP records to prove your deductions.
What usually does not fly is counting space all over your home... a little in the basement, a little in the garage, a little in the bedroom. Count one space as your business space.