How strict are Canon CPS rules?
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jcleejr
Registered: Nov 26, 2008
Total Posts: 44
Country: United States

I bought my equipment for use in my business and the IRS rules allow me to deduct the purchases as a qualified business expense.

Canon says you must be a "full time imaging professional" which I am not. My equipment inventory qualifies me as a "Gold" member but I am hesitant to apply because of not being a full time photographer.

Anyone else had experience with this situation?



big country
Registered: Nov 27, 2006
Total Posts: 3566
Country: United States

they don't seem to be very strict.



RobertLynn
Registered: Jan 05, 2008
Total Posts: 11539
Country: United States

jcleejr wrote:
I bought my equipment for use in my business and the IRS rules allow me to deduct the purchases as a qualified business expense.

Canon says you must be a "full time imaging professional" which I am not. My equipment inventory qualifies me as a "Gold" member but I am hesitant to apply because of not being a full time photographer.

Anyone else had experience with this situation?


I opened this thread with the thought in my head of another jerk trying to get perks for his hobby. Seems I pre judged.

Full-time imaging professional is a subjective term. At least in my mind. See I maintain a secondary source of income, but I consider my business full-time. How is this defined? Is it only time that your shutter is clicked? Say I'm shooting an event at 1/1000 and I shoot 1000 images. Am I only a photographer for 1 second? What about getting there, getting set up, getting tore down, getting out, going home, unloading, editing, burning, backing up, packaging, driving to the post to mail the product, follow up, invoicing et cetera. Aren't they consuming my time for business?

So what I'm saying is this, I think most people who are operating a business legitimately will be okay...because its more time than you think. Heck I can spend 20 minutes in the phone answering questions. Or at the bookstore and researching photography.

With all of that said, your relationship with the IRS is your own, but a word of caution...if this is a hobby and you're just writing off your equipment with no desire to show a profit, after three years straight of losses it opens you up to an audit where they will deem you a hobby and you'll have to pay back the "losses" and no longer be able to take a loss. This isn't to scare you, it's just to put it out there. The IRS expects you to lose money for a few years getting started, but if you're not showing growth the chances of an audit increase.



jcleejr
Registered: Nov 26, 2008
Total Posts: 44
Country: United States

Thanks for your insights. As far as the business goes, we have shown a sizeable profit for the past 20+ years and it supports my wife and I very nicely. It is certainly not a hobby!

My reason for starting the thread was to get a feeling from others for Canon's interpretation of their rules.



Invertalon
Registered: Sep 08, 2009
Total Posts: 814
Country: United States

They don't make you prove anything... As long as you have enough gear that qualify you into Gold and you pay the $100, your in.



jerrykur
Registered: Feb 15, 2005
Total Posts: 4254
Country: United States

In the US, the CPS program seems to be more of a profit center like buying an extended warranty.



Will Patterson
Registered: Nov 06, 2006
Total Posts: 4639
Country: United States

jerrykur wrote:
In the US, the CPS program seems to be more of a profit center like buying an extended warranty.


Yep. But it does come with benefits like the free cleanings, rush priority service, and equipment loans. It's a great program.



JimN
Registered: Jul 09, 2004
Total Posts: 588
Country: United States

If you have enough of their gear and pay the fee, you can join. At least that was my impression when they changed the CPS program a couple of years ago. They used to actualy have requirements other than owning gear. I'm a gold member and very happy with the service. I think you need to have a ton of equipment or be very hard on your equipment for a platinum membership to make sense. The annual fee for Gold is $100 - $500 for platinum. I think the best benefit is the discount for repair service.



anthonygh
Registered: Jan 09, 2006
Total Posts: 1844
Country: United Kingdom

What is the benefit of this arrangement to Canon is a question I'd like answering?

Canon seems to want to dictate who is defined as a pro photographer and then determine the nature of the gear that pro needs to use.

As someone who was semi pro by choice ( I also run a college photography department) my camera systems of choice were film based...as my work was B+W art orientated and I much prefer the aesthetics of film generated imagery.

So despite using Canon gear for 95% of my work for four decades (and still owning most of what I have used) CPS wouldn't want to know if I applied. Or at least that seems the case in the UK.



JimN
Registered: Jul 09, 2004
Total Posts: 588
Country: United States

anthonygh wrote:
What is the benefit of this arrangement to Canon is a question I'd like answering?

Canon seems to want to dictate who is defined as a pro photographer and then determine the nature of the gear that pro needs to use.

As someone who was semi pro by choice ( I also run a college photography department) my camera systems of choice were film based...as my work was B+W art orientated and I much prefer the aesthetics of film generated imagery.

So despite using Canon gear for 95% of my work for four decades (and still owning most of what I have used) CPS wouldn't want to know if I applied. Or at least that seems the case in the UK.


I don't know how it works in the UK, but here in the US, just about anyone with enough Canon gear can join. They assign points based on the gear you have. The points determine what level of CPS you qualify for. It doesn't take much gear to quaify.



erikburd
Registered: Feb 03, 2010
Total Posts: 573
Country: United States

I would qualify as a "full time imaging professional", and I'm a software engineer. I develop real-time imaging software for robotics.



ggreene
Registered: Aug 11, 2003
Total Posts: 1800
Country: United States

It is a great program for just about everyone now. I did like the original idea though that actual working pros would get priority and not just some Dentist with a 1DX.



sperraglia
Registered: Oct 22, 2002
Total Posts: 978
Country: United States

Not that strict and for $100 the gold is a no brainer - the 2 clean and checks and free shipping back is great. I sent in a camera and lens a few weeks ago on a sunday and had them back on thursday. It has more than paid for itself.



pKai
Registered: Oct 16, 2006
Total Posts: 891
Country: United States

I think the idea is that for $100 anyone with enough gear can get in to the Gold. It benefits Canon to give these bennies to people that own a certain amount of gear. The loan program specially is an excellent marketing tool. CPS invariably generates sales among a crowd that has already proven they can afford it -- pro or not.

IMHO, the Platinum program for $500 is the one for the "real" pros. There you get even deeper repair discounts, more cleanings -- both of which a pro should need more than an amateur -- and priority treatment up and down all the service offerings.



JimN
Registered: Jul 09, 2004
Total Posts: 588
Country: United States

pKai wrote:
I think the idea is that for $100 anyone with enough gear can get in to the Gold. It benefits Canon to give these bennies to people that own a certain amount of gear. The loan program specially is an excellent marketing tool. CPS invariably generates sales among a crowd that has already proven they can afford it -- pro or not.

IMHO, the Platinum program for $500 is the one for the "real" pros. There you get even deeper repair discounts, more cleanings -- both of which a pro should need more than an amateur -- and priority treatment up and down all the service offerings.


You also get a 60% service discount compared to 30% with the gold program. If my gear wasn't so reliable, I would go Platinum.



Gunzorro
Registered: Aug 28, 2010
Total Posts: 6501
Country: United States

It used to be more rigorous in the 80s and 90s. You had minimum equipment requirements, but also needed to reapply annually, submitting 3 tear-sheets or other published photo materials. Back then the CPS was free if you qualified, but no free cleanings. Rush service and discount, plus the loaner program.

I prefer the new system, as the old one was burdensome, having to reapply so often (I eventually dropped CPS in the late 90s until re-enrolling the last few years). It's a great program and the service is outstanding.



OntheRez
Registered: Jul 16, 2008
Total Posts: 2845
Country: United States

As a "professional photographer" i.e. one who gets paid for his work, I still have to maintain other jobs as there just isn't enough work (or I'm not famous enough) to rely on that income alone in my rural area. As for CPS membership, add up the points and if you have the gear send them $100 or $500 and they never question it. I do agree that the Platinum level is probably the "real" full time pro as their income stream is such that they can take the deduction as a business expense. OTOH of all the Canon gear I've owned over the years (at least a dozen cameras), I've only once needed a repair and this is with gear that was all bought used. I had a 1DIII that need a new shutter button. The fast turnaround and 30% off certainly made that year's dues worth it.

Robert



StarNut
Registered: Aug 30, 2004
Total Posts: 1630
Country: United States

I asked Canon this question directly just a couple of days ago.

The answer from the CPS folks is, essentially, that they only care about whether you have the equipment inventory to meet a particular level of membership. They nominally say it's for "full-time imaging professionals," but they then make it clear that the only hoop that must be jumped through for membership is equipment ownership.

I don't know if the benefits for a non-professional justify the cost (to me; not making a judgment for anyone else), even of the gold program, but Canon clearly is perfectly happy to let anyone join who has purchased enough Canon equipment.



pKai
Registered: Oct 16, 2006
Total Posts: 891
Country: United States

StarNut wrote:
I don't know if the benefits for a non-professional justify the cost (to me; not making a judgment for anyone else), even of the gold program, but Canon clearly is perfectly happy to let anyone join who has purchased enough Canon equipment.



Forget the repairs and cleaning.... which are seldom needed unless you shoot in fairly nasty environments and/or beat your gear around. I'd say the loaner program ALONE is worth the $100. For this paltry amount plus shipping-back charges (peanuts) you can borrow tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to play and work with.

Aside from just playing and curiosity.... If I'm actually contemplating a purchase, its nice to be able to try something out for a couple of weeks without having to pay lensrentals.com (love you, Roger!) a few hundred bucks.

Same is true in the other direction.... I borrowed a 5D3 and decided it didn't do enough for me to justify the purchase.... $3500 saved. OTOH, I was sold on the 100 2.8L Macro and 8-15L Fisheye after a couple of weeks with each.




StarNut
Registered: Aug 30, 2004
Total Posts: 1630
Country: United States

pKai, thanks for that information. I'll continue to consider it, but you make an excellent case!



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