All right. I can already hear you groaning. Tax time is fast approaching - and you're a writer. You have expenses. You can claim them on your taxes, right?
Yes, IF you do it the right way. Well, most of the time.
In a recent meeting of our chapter, Walt Eddy, an appeals officer for the IRS (and fellow writer) spoke to us on this very subject.
Here are the highlights.
Treat your writing as a business:
Make a dynamic business plan.
Open a separate checking account to be used only for writing expenses and income.
Keep all your receipts.
Keep a record/journal of all the events you attended and your expenses. Mileage to and from these events is usually allowed.
Do some research and KNOW which expenses are allowed and which are not.
(And sorry, for the most part, all your movie purchases probably won't make it through an audit - even if you only used them for story-line research - which of course we know you did.)
To legally use your expenses for your taxes, you MUST be submitting and promoting your work, and be able to prove it. If you haven't made any profit after three years, you might want to think twice about claiming them if you're showing a loss.
I have three more pages of notes, but I'll torture you no longer. Most of us have limits to how long taxes fascinate us, even if it is about writing.
If you'd like to know all the legal exemptions for writers and how to claim them, Walt Eddy has a website and a book, Making Expression Less Taxing: A Freelancer's Tax Resource. You can access them here:
Best of luck and may you all survive another April 15th!