I am a certified martial arts instructor, and I have been working towards opening a sideline business doing self defense seminars targeted at a mainly female population, currently based in the United States.

To this, I attended a training/certification seminar in July of last year (2017), and a similar certification in early February this year (2018). I have a target "open" date of April 1 this year.

Now I know that mileage driving to/fro and items like that are deductible, as are training costs to keep current. What I don't know, is if I took the seminars with the intent of starting this business, are they still able to be written off as training expenses? Or can those only be after the actual open date of the business?


1 Answer 1


You can't write off business expenses before the business entity is formed.

Think logically about what you are asking..... If it were possible to write off education as a business expense for a business which is formed well after the education... every business owner the the US would be writing off any college tuition, even if it took place 20 years prior to any business.

If the business has been formed, but not officially opened, you may be able to write off the training as pre-operational expenses. You'll need to speak to a tax professional experienced in such matters.

The key factors are the date the business entity is officially, legally, formed (not when you "thought about it") and the dates of education/training.

  • Hrm. I may need to clarify the question a bit. I specifically took the courses intending to open the business.
    – JohnP
    Feb 26, 2018 at 20:30
  • Doesn't matter.. if the business isn't formed, the courses aren't a write off. But I am not a tax professional.. and that's really what you need. Just because I studied for an MBA with complete intention of opening a business, that doesn't make my MBA a write off.
    – Scott
    Feb 26, 2018 at 20:32

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