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
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.