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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Tax Man Cometh...guest post by SS Hampton Sr

I'm happy to welcome SS Hampton Sr. to my blog. He has a topic that should interest many as the deadline to file taxes looms. I enjoyed his post and was impressed by his biography. Thirteen grandchildren, his dedication to the military, the writing he's had published and now the classes he's taking in photography and anthropology. A very busy and talented man! Thank you for guesting today and best of luck with writing and school!

Hampton’s Amazon Author Page can be found at:

The Tax Man Cometh

First and foremost, I am not a tax expert. I’ve done seasonal tax work and I do my own taxes, but that doesn’t mean I’m a professional. Therefore, consult a professional before tax season begins and definitely be sure to consult a professional before you file your taxes.
Now that that is out of the way, be sure to take every business deduction that you reasonably can. Keep receipts—repeat, keep receipts!
So what can you deduct as a business expense? I suggest whatever is needed in order to assist and advance your writing career. If it is relevant and can reasonably be justified, I suggest the following:
How about music CDs and DVDs? Well, what if you write a story that involves a belly dancer? Can you describe the music a belly dancer dances to? Can you describe how the various accoutrements of a belly dance costume move due to the dancer’s movement? Do you know what belly dance music is called? And what of the dance moves? Every dance has a named technique and style. You need information in order to write believably.

Office equipment and furniture? For sure filing cabinets, office chair, desk, a desktop organizer, a desk lamp, 3-hole punch, 3-ring binders, and even a big pencil cup. If you’re working out of your home, as many writers do, you need to organize your work space. And don’t forget that if you use a portion of your home you can claim a percentage of your rent or mortgage as a business expense. Probably even a percentage of your electric bill (power for the computer).
Most definitely claim office supplies, whether ink jet cartridges, file folders, copy paper, paper clips, pens, writing pads, postage, etc. A writer can’t function without material that enables him or her to stay somewhat organized, whether for writing or to face an audit.
What about miscellaneous items such as storage boxes for research and correspondence folders, and electrical surge protectors so your computer won’t be fried? If you’re interviewing a subject matter expert for one of your stories, then might you need a digital recorder and lapel microphone? It makes sense to me.
Books, magazines and newspapers—I buy a lot of books not to simply read, but because the subject matter is relevant to my writing. Books on the French Indo-China War, the Vietnam War, even books concerning UN peacekeeping operations during the Bosnian Civil War, and the history of ballet. If I see a magazine that contains an article on subject matter that I have written or will write about, I will usually buy it. Newspaper articles often provide background material, or provide inspiration for stories. Have you ever needed a map from some historical period such as Sumeria or the Crusader kingdoms because you’re writing a story set in those areas? Sounds like a reasonable expense to me.
Don’t forget that regarding your cell phone and Internet, a portion of your bill is due to your writing profession. Do you pay to attend conferences, or organize your own book signings, and buy SWAG to hand out as a part of your marketing/public relations strategy? After all, it takes money to make money; sounds like a reasonable expense to me.
As I stated, these are only suggestions. I am not a professional. It is critically important that you consult a tax professional in order to be sure of the various business expenses you can claim. And save your receipts! Repeat—save your receipts!
Good luck with your writing and your record keeping.


SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He is a serving member of the Army National Guard with the rank of staff sergeant. He served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004; he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years after his enlistment. He is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. He is an aspiring painter and is studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Please leave a comment for SS Hampton Sr. and thanks for visiting my blog today!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hi SS and thank you for posting today! Would you like to comment on your book The Sentinels?

  3. What sage advice, SS, and very useful! I take all the deductions I can, including books that I review on my blog, because that is promotional too. I take my Internet as a deduction. When it comes to office space in your home, keep in mind that it has to be a dedicated space, not used for anything else (such as mine, which is actually part of my living room and therefore not qualified). If that is the case, then you can calculate what percentage of your home is used for your office and take that same percentage of utilities as well. Keep in mind that these might need to be recaptured when you sell your home, but that is probably not an issue for most people, as you owe nothing if you make less than $250,000 profit (or $500,000 for a married couple) - and frankly, who makes that sort of profit?

    Also, you might want to consider forming a corporation, because it's easier to take your expenses (not being subject to AGI limitations) and self-employment taxes. The deadline for filing corporate taxes was March 15th. And if you go that route, I suggest making the election to become an S corps - profit and loss flow through to you personally.

    Have a good day!

  4. Good morning! I think this might work - after searching for my LiveJournal user name and cooking breakfast at the same time. All with only 2 cigarettes and 3 cups of coffee to operate on. I'll be back after breakfast!

  5. "The Sentinels." It's a simple story, really. During the December 1941 Russian counteroffensive to save Moscow, a lot of German units were crushed, destroyed. The remnants of a German Waffen SS unit are still holding their position, but they have to find out what the Siberians are up to in the huge, dark forest across from them. When half-starved, exhausted, and freezing, the mind can play tricks on you. They sense there's something else in the forest besides the Siberians. Something dark and unpleasant. Is it all in their minds or is there really something in there waiting for them? And a patrol enters the forest to find out...

  6. Julie,

    Hi. I try and I know what works for me, but as I stated, I am not an expert. I decided against a corporation; at the moment it's too much paperwork for what little comes my way. Maybe once my earnings rise (hopefully), then it may become worth the time and effort. Anyway, thanks for visiting!


    1. It's not really that much paperwork, Stan. I file my yearly renewal - online. I file a tax return once a year, also online. Other than that, nothing, because I have no payroll taxes yet. I don't make near enough to pay myself. You don't need to be a lawyer to incorporate, you can do it all online yourself.

  7. Well, day late and a dollar short, as usual, but for me that's pretty usual. Yes, a part of my cell phone bill got deducted this year, that internet access thing, you know. And I believe some other expenses as well but at the risk of sounding "unmodern", that's my husband's baliwick. I'm lousy with figures. I don't expect him to write books, he doesn't expect me to understand taxes. That being said, on a more personal note -- at least I never FORGET tax day. My birthday. Along with the anniversary of the Scots fall at Culloden with Bonnie Prince Charlie, Lincoln's assassination, and the sinking of the Titantic. And y'all thought tax day was accidental by the government, huh? Nope. Long ago I decided it's a cosmic date for disasters and I was the final proof!

    1. Gail,

      Hi. A date for cosmic disaster, eh? Well, I don't know about that, but tax day alone is disaster enough, lol! Anyway, yes, take as may deductions as you can that are relevant to your profession of being a writer. And like I said, I'm not a professional, so be sure to consult one before you file. Good luck with your writing!