The pair are being told that they’re considered hobbyists, not artists, and therefore cannot write off touring expenses, because they hadn’t pursued being signed by a record label. This is, of course, in spite of documentation and features in magazines, which they tried to present to their auditor. The auditor’s response: “I’m a numbers guy. Let’s talk numbers.”
From the article:
The tax guy said that by this point in my career I needed to be signed by a major label, that I should have been signed to a major label by now, that I needed to be signed to a major label to establish myself. [He said that] there was no evidence that I was actively sending my records to major record labels, so therefore I must not be interested in profit, and not running a for-profit business.
Because fuck independent music, right?