Managing Sales Tax for Milspouse Photographers

Moving Your Business

If you’re a milspouse photographer, I can almost guarantee the topic of sales tax makes you uncomfortable! I know taxes isn’t our favorite subject, but the peace of mind you’ll have knowing you’re not going to be in trouble come tax season is well worth doing some work up front. While I’m not a lawyer, I can share the sales tax framework I use when I’m moving to a new state. Let’s talk sales tax for milspouse photographers!

Question 1: Are my services taxable?

This is the big question and the one I think causes the most stress. You see, this varies greatly from state to state. In some states, only physical goods likes prints or albums are taxable. In other states, digital goods including digital images are taxed as well. Additionally, the session itself varies too. In some states, it’s viewed as a service that is not taxed. In others, the session is taxable because its purpose is to provide a product that is also taxed. So, how do you find out what the rules are in your state?

If you do a Google search, you’re going to get a lot of options. As with deciding how to move your business entity, my recommendation is to check official government websites! You will likely see options from other photographers sharing what they do, but I’d caution you from accepting this as truth. For starters, this is not their area of expertise. The consequences can be significant, so be sure you’re getting your information straight from the source!

Question 2: What tax rate do I charge?

Once you know what to charge tax on, the next question is how much? This is also going to vary not only from state to state, but also from city to city or county to county within that state. My recommendation here would be to go to your state’s website to figure out what the sales tax rate is at the state level and then look at the city or county that you’re in.

Question 3: How often do I need to make payments?

Once you know what you need to charge tax on and how much to charge, the final piece of the puzzle is figuring out how often you need to make payments. This is usually determined by how much money you make. Once again, it varies from state to state! When you go through the process of setting up your sales tax account, you will find out how often it is due. Be sure to set a reminder to pay it so you’re not late!

Bonus Tip: Set Aside Your Sales Tax

As a little bonus tip, keep in mind that this money isn’t really yours! Sure, your client is giving it to you, but you’re really just the middle man responsible for passing it on to the state. Because of this, you want to be careful not to spend it. Transfer it to a separate account if that’s helpful or just keep track of it in a spreadsheet, but be careful not to treat it as income. You don’t want to be in a pinch when it comes time to pay it!

I hope this was helpful! Click below to watch the full video!

If you have questions on sales tax for milspouse photographers, feel free to let me know. If I can’t help, I’ll recommend you get in touch with a CPA or small business lawyer in your state.

Are you a milspouse photographer? Be sure to check out the Location Guides for Milspouse Photographers blog series too! You can find other tips for moving your business on the blog too. Thanks for being here! 🤍


Getting ready for your next PCS? This resource is for you! Download the guide for five actionable ways to set yourself up for success at your next assignment.

5 Ways to PCS-Prep your photography business

Getting ready for a PCS?

Getting ready for a PCS?

free download!


more about me

I've been navigating military life with my family since 2008. In that time, I went from a full-time classroom teacher to an online course designer to a photographer. Actually, I still teach a little math on the side because I just love it too much!

Through it all, I've discovered how passionate I am about connecting with military families. Whether it's taking photos at a retirement ceremony, coaching a fellow milspouse photographer, or just grabbing coffee with a new squadron friend, I love this community. And as a teacher at heart, I'm excited to use this space to share what I've learned about business and life with you.


Hey there!

    Want to be the first to know about new blogs, freebies, and other educational offerings? Sign up here for early access to all the resources I create!