Game-Changing Tax Tips Every Coach Should Know

Coaching can be one of the most rewarding professions out there. So let’s talk about some tax tips to make it even more rewarding.

Whether you’re coaching T-ball or collegiate track and field, you serve a unique blend of educator and life coach. You help kids, young people, or even adults push themselves in a sport. And you help them learn crucial skills like teamwork, communication, and perseverance.

You deserve a serious thank you.

While being an athletic coach can certainly be emotionally rewarding, it can also be time-consuming. And many coaches are still underpaid for the hours they put in. And they put in those hours each and every week for months at a time.

We wish that tax time offered a bit of a break from the financial headaches that can come along with being an athletic coach. Sadly, it’s not. There are dozens of types of coaches out there, with wildly different schedules and compensation structures. So finding one-size-fits-all advice for all coaches is pretty impossible.

Fortunately, income from coaching is still pretty easy to break down! So that’s what we’ll do. Regardless your hours, your organization, or your sport, look no further for helpful tax tips for athletic coaches.

Tax Tips for Different Types of Coaches 

Here’s where most people go wrong in thinking about athletic coaching and taxes. They think your title (assistant coach vs. head coach) or the level at which you coach (kindergarten vs. high school) plays a big impact.

In fact, it really all boils down to how your work is classified: contract, salaried, or volunteer. 

Contract Coaches

Colleges, universities, and even some private elementary and high schools maintain full-time coaching staff. But for a vast majority of organizations, this isn’t the case.

Instead, most programs and leagues pay coaches as contractors. The greatest tax consequence of contracted, part-time coaching work is that it typically isn’t withheld from your paycheck. Instead, you’ll receive the full total amount from the organization or school and need to do the work of setting aside your taxes.

Strictly speaking, you’re required to claim any of your income from your coaching work and pay self-employment taxes on that income. But if you earn over $600, you’ll receive a 1099-MISC from your employer at tax time. Don’t forget to track your expenses!

Salaried Coaches

If your organization requires you to file a W-2 and withholds taxes from your paychecks, you’re considered an employee—but there’s more to it than that.

Some coaches coach full-time, while others are teachers whose coaching is supplemental to their teaching work. For full-time coaches, your taxes are withheld from your paychecks, so as long as you withhold like a pro, you won’t need to worry about a tax bill from your coaching.

For teachers who coach on top of their work, like a Physical Education teacher who also leads the football team or even an English teacher who coaches a debate team, it depends. Depending on the nature of your exact contract and agreement with the school district, your coaching income may or may not be withheld from your paychecks.

In either case, if you’re a teacher who puts in at least 900 hours of teaching a year, you can qualify for the Educator Expense Deduction. It may not be directly associated with your coaching, but it can still allow you to deduct up to $250 of expenses on purchases for the classroom.

Volunteer Coaches

Just because you aren’t a paid coach doesn’t mean your work isn’t relevant to your taxes.

If you have expenses associated with your coaching—like driving mileage, equipment, maybe some tasty Capri-Suns—and you aren’t reimbursed by the organization, you may be able to deduct the expenses.

Here’s how: You must be volunteering for a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit and be able to itemize your deductions. Check these boxes and deduct away! Oh, and for driving miles, you can deduct at 14 cents per mile.

Remember the Standard Deduction

Regardless of what kind of coach you are, you need to keep the standard deduction in mind when planning for your tax return.

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the standard deduction is much higher—and you may find your intended deductions shake out to be lower. However, if you’ve put a lot of your own money into equipment or travel costs you’ve accrued as a coach throughout the year, it may be worth checking to see. Just make sure you’ve kept a good record of everything!

Meet Your New Tax Tips Coach

You do important work, and you should be recognized for it. While we may not be able to make your games and root for your team from the bleachers, we can help you win big at tax time.

Consider this blog a guide to get you started. From there, we can map a plan to success. We’ve been playing the tax prep game since 2001—and we haven’t had a losing season yet.


Ready to get started?