Taxes, schmaxes…fear not, writers can get a break in today’s business world

Rejoice writers! Now you can write in peace without fear of losing the shirts off of your backs.  (Photo Credit:  www.flickr.com)

Rejoice writers! Now you can write in peace without fear of losing the shirts off of your backs. (Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com)

I hope everyone had a lovely first weekend of May. The weather was delicious here in beautiful South Carolina, which immediately put just about everyone in a joyful mood. I also stumbled upon some news that really made my day as an author, and I couldn’t wait to share it. Did you know that there are many things that we use daily in going about the business of writing that can be deducted on our tax returns? Now admittedly a lot of people probably already know about it because the article I found was dated June 17, 2010. Lol.

The article is “Tax Advice for Writers” written by Bonnie Lee. It is a good-sized composition that you can read at your leisure and take helpful notes. But just to summarize, there are some things that the IRS will allow writers to deduct from their income because they are considered “ordinary and necessary” business expenses. A few that are mentioned are:

  • Mileage to and from writers’ conferences and/or classes to further your craft
  • Advertising and marketing expenses
  • Computers, laptops and other equipment that you use primarily for your writing

Lee stresses that it is imperative to keep detailed records in the event of an IRS audit. One example she gives is rather than just keep a credit card receipt for a hotel stay, it is better to staple a flyer showing the writers’ conference being held at the hotel on that date, as well as a receipt for your registration to the conference, to the credit card receipt for which you are trying to deduct for your room and board.

Although the favored deductions will be different for each person, I must admit that what really excites me the most is learning about the advertising and marketing expense possibilities. I have long confined myself to advertising only on my own website (www.PamelaKayNobleBrown.com, by the way), Twitter, Facebook, and any other book groups that I could find that would let me advertise for free. I did this not because I was cheap, but because I simply cannot afford advertising until my book sales take off, but my book sales won’t take off without advertising because no one will know they’re there. Well, I’m sure many other authors are aware of what can be a catch-22 situation.

But when you learn better, you do better.  With this added information, I can now actually spend money on education writers’ conferences to hone my craft, vending tables, book covers, business cards, etc., knowing that they are considered legitimate business expenses, and not just out-of-pocket losses.

The main thing to remember, according to Lee, is that, and this bears repeating, you must have an organized system of record keeping so that you can prove that this is a venture that you have entered into with the true intention of making a profit (whether you actually made a profit or not) and not just a passing hobby.  And it is always best to consult a professional accountant or tax preparer. This actually has breathed life into my writing aspirations as I now have more tools at my disposable with which to share my writings with the world.  Hopefully Lee’s article will have other writers doing gleeful cartwheels over their computers as they hurry off to beat the deadlines to get their ads placed in their marketing avenue of choice. Viva les writers!

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