Your Rafting Accounting Questions, Answered

Rafting is more of a lifestyle than a hobby. Some people reading this might be interested in how they can fit rafting into their lives financially, either through tax write-offs or getting a job within the field. We’ve answered your top three questions below.


Can you write off rafting trips? 

In some cases, you’ll be able to write off parts of your rafting trip. If, for example, you go on a rafting trip in the service or in support of a legitimate tax-exempt charity, you may be able to claim certain out-of-pocket expenses, like travel. If you want to write your trip off as a business expense, be sure to schedule business appointments before you leave. The IRS requires these write-offs to establish “prior set business purpose” before heading out on an adventure.


Are river rafting guides 1099 contractors or W2 employees? Is one better? 

This will change depending on the company. Some guides will be seasonal W2 employees, which means they’re entitled to certain benefits, which the company supplies. Some companies operate more as a home base for freelance guides, providing lodging and equipment. These 1099 contractors are not entitled to the same benefits as a W2 employee.

But which is better: 1099 or W2? Both are legitimate options. We’ve found that companies that use W2 forms tend to have a more cohesive set-up and company culture, which some find comforting. Guides classified as employees often have better health an accident insurance, but 1099 independent contractor guides have more freedom to do what they want. Each has its own benefits.


How do guides get their 1099s and W2s after they’ve scattered across the country in the off season? 

Many rafting companies now use online services to electronically distribute tax and wage forms come tax season. This is how many guides get their 1099s and W2s. Other companies prefer to mail these forms. In this situation, they will send forms to the permanent address they have on file for each employee or contractor. It is important for guides to update the company when their permanent address changes. If you move around a lot, a P.O. box or mail forwarding service.