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Tax Strategies for Paying Your Kids as Models in Your Business


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Many small business owners face the dilemma of how to deduct expenses while keeping their tax filings above board and in compliance with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations. One such question that frequently arises is how to pay your children for modeling services for your business while avoiding any potential issues with the IRS. While this practice can be legitimate, it's crucial to navigate it carefully to ensure your business remains audit-proof. In this blog post, we'll explore the steps you should take to ensure you can legitimately pay your kids for modeling for your business while protecting yourself against the possibility of an audit.

Document the Business Necessity

The first and most crucial step in paying your kids for modeling services is to establish a legitimate business necessity. In your case, the modeling services should directly benefit your business. This means that the photos or images are being used for your business website or promotional materials, and they genuinely contribute to your business's success.

Determine a Fair Compensation

It's important to ensure that the compensation you offer your kids is reasonable and commensurate with the services provided. Paying them an exorbitant amount for a simple modeling gig might raise red flags with the IRS. To determine fair compensation, you can research market rates for modeling services in your area and pay your children a similar rate.

Keep Detailed Records

Maintaining accurate and detailed records is essential for any legitimate tax deduction. Keep records of all transactions, including invoices, receipts, and any related correspondence. You should also have a clear written agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the modeling services, including the scope of work and compensation.

Pay with a Business Account

To further legitimize the transaction, pay your kids for their modeling services through your business account. This demonstrates a clear business purpose for the payments and distinguishes them from personal expenses.

Follow Child Labor Laws

Make sure that you comply with child labor laws and regulations in your state or jurisdiction. Child labor laws may restrict the hours and conditions under which minors can work. Violating these laws could lead to serious legal issues, not just with the IRS.

Consult a Tax Professional

While it's important to take these steps to ensure that your payments to your children for modeling are legitimate and defensible, it's also wise to consult with a tax professional or advisor. These experts can help you navigate the complexities of tax law and ensure that you're adhering to all relevant regulations. They can also provide guidance on documenting your payments and maintaining proper records.

Be Prepared for an Audit

Even if you follow all the guidelines and make legitimate payments to your children, there is always a chance that your tax return may be audited. It's essential to be prepared for this possibility. Keep all documentation, records, and correspondence related to the modeling payments organized and easily accessible. If you've followed all the rules and can demonstrate the business necessity and fairness of the payments, you should have a strong defense in the event of an audit.


Paying your children for modeling services for your business can be a legitimate tax deduction, provided that you follow the necessary steps to ensure compliance with IRS regulations. It's crucial to establish a genuine business need for their services, document the transactions, maintain proper records, and consult with a tax professional to navigate the complexities of tax law.

Remember, while these guidelines can help you reduce the risk of an audit, there are no guarantees in the world of taxes. Every situation is unique, so consulting a tax professional or advisor is the best way to ensure you're taking the right steps to protect your business and your finances. With proper documentation and adherence to the rules, you can enjoy the benefits of a legitimate tax deduction without the worry of an audit looming over your business.