Birth Photographers, Sales Tax & DBAs | Denton Birth Photography

This will not be interesting to doulas or parents, sorry! Skip this post. šŸ™‚ But if you are a birth photographer in Texas or a doula who offers photography as an independent service then it's important to know that you legally have to charge sales tax for your service. Not just if you provide a physical product - digital products count, so any digital file or slideshow means you legally must charge sales tax on your service fee (and product fee, if you deliver a physical product like prints or albums.)

We all pay income tax, of course, and doulas are not subject to a sales tax. In Texas, however, photographers ARE subject to sales tax on our services. (Link here.)

Examples of labor that result in the sale
of a taxable item include photography and videography.

Fortunately it's simple to file for a Tax ID number here: Online Application. You don't have to have a DBA - Doing Business As* to do that, just your name and business name and Social Security Number.

You are filing as a sole owner, unless you've already established yourself as an LLC (talked to your accountant about that.) In that case you will have a business name, of course, and I'm not sure how that works as I'm not an LLC.

For the first year you'll be filing quarterly, whether you made any money or not! Remember this, as there is a $50 fee for late filing. When it's time to pay you can file the sales tax online here. Don't worry, they'll send you a reminder form in the mail with plenty of time to file (about a month in advance.) Once they've seen the amount you are filing then you can switch to a year (my plan!)

*If you do want to file a DBA you'll need to do so in each county you are planning to do business and want to protect your name. This simply means if anyone else comes in and wants to file a DBA they can't use your name - it does not protect you outside your county. From what I am reading your DBA protects your name only in the county you file it, to protect your name at the state level you'll need to become an LLC. A DBA is $15 in my county, not sure what an LLC fee runs - but I'll let you know! Here's the Secretary of State site for Texas to learn more about LLCs - SOS.

However, even with a DBA filed that doesn't stop someone else from using a variation of your name or your same name if they've not filed a DBA - it's not required to do business so they can advertise using a similar name. That's a legal issue you'll want to discuss further with your attorney.

Photo so I can Pin this! Gorgeous baby.

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2 Responses to Birth Photographers, Sales Tax & DBAs | Denton Birth Photography

  1. Yael says:

    Hi Heidi!

    This has nothing to do w/ birth photography or doula work… I just read your blog about incorporating photography into doula work, and noticed you mentioned that you’re “not an LLC”. I’m starting my business soon, and wondering if I should do DBA or LLC. Weird question, right? But seriously, I’m getting mixed messages from people. Should I worry about liability/suing, etc. and just get an LLC? I’ve only been a doula/prenatal fitness instructor for few months, just got certified… What would you suggest?

    • heidi says:

      I’m not a CPA or attorney so I would advise talking with one and/or both of them for any business/tax & legal needs, but I can give you my very unprofessional advice.

      A DBA protects only your business name and only in the county you file it, it’s not a statewide protection. It also gives you no type of liability protection if someone were to sue you. An LLC does protect your name at a state level, and not just the literal name (as a DBA does) but it also protects variations of your name (for example with me, not just Better Birth Doula but also Better Birth DoulaS would be something I could fight if someone were to use it.) Both a DBA and LLC let you set up a business bank account, but the LLC protects your personal funds from being pursued if you were sued and a DBA does not.

      The chances of a doula being sued are low, but things like liability insurance or an LLC are ones to talk with an attorney, insurance broker, and accountant about. It will vary based on YOUR situation, liability or possibility of being sued with the fitness instructor job, personal assets, etc.

      Oh, and in my area a DBA is around $20 per county but an LLC is (from estimates I was given) a couple hundred. I’ll verify that. šŸ™‚

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