Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Virginia State News

January 21, 2013

Jobs done as hobby still require licenses in Va


"I've been here for 15 years and we were doing this back then," Woods said. "Every commissioner of the revenue in Virginia is doing the same thing."

People who have a business on the side, or even as a hobby, often don't realize that Virginia law requires them to get a business license. There are a few exceptions, but if you make money by regularly selling goods or providing a service, the state considers you to be a business that needs a local license. That doesn't apply to isolated or irregular dealings, though.

Filing a tax return or supplemental document that is required only of businesses is a key test of whether someone needs to get a local business license.

And that generally means the Schedule C form the Internal Revenue Service requires when reporting a profit or loss from a business, Woods said.

Casey is a member of Le Hot Club de Big Lick, an act that pays tribute to the gypsy jazz of such artists as guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli. A couple of years back, the band got itself listed in the Virginia Commission for the Arts' touring directory. It led to a lot of gigs, and more money than Casey had previously made playing.

He has since then received 1099 forms for his work with Le Hot Club, then filed Schedule C (form 1040) documents to report his expenses. He said he thinks that combination brought him to the city's attention.

He wrote off some minor equipment expenses and mileage, and claimed part of his dining room -- where Le Hot Club rehearses -- as a deduction.

"I think that's what really threw up the red flag, using square footage of my house for my little rehearsal business space," he said. "I guess realistically, I am a business, because I get paid. But I'm just such a small fish in a small pond in a small valley."

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