Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tax Deductions for Writers

by
Rhonda Browning White
(Originally posted November 17, 2009)

 
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is educational and is not intended to serve as tax advice. Please consult your Certified Public Accountant or the Internal Revenue Service at www.irs.gov for tax advice and preparation assistance.


You’re not published yet, so you think this informative article doesn’t apply to you, right? Wrong! If you’re a writer—even a writer at the beginning stages of your career—you may be eligible to claim many of your writing expenses on your taxes. The IRS knows that, as writers (freelance writers, novelists, or otherwise), it may take several years to make a profit. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to report your income, however. In fact, you must report everything you earn, even that ten-dollar check you earned for the article you published in your PTA newsletter.

So, what are some of the tax deductions you might be eligible to take, as a writer? Believe it or not, there are quite a few. First, if you have a
dedicated home office you may claim a portion (based on the square footage of your office in your home) of utilities, rent, home repairs, and so on. Consult IRS Publication 587 for more information and to see if you qualify. Next, you may be able to deduct furniture and equipment costs, such as for your desk, computer, printer and copier, though some of these may (or may not) need to be depreciated, dependent upon your individual situation. Of course, office supplies, such as paper, pens, laptop carrier, and paperclips can be deducted as an office expense on Schedule C.

In addition, professional services such as legal advice, accountant advice, tax preparation, and fees paid to a
professional editor are usually deductible. You may also be able to deduct travel expenses (keep detailed records), writers conference fees, a percentage of related meals and entertainment, as well as advertising (such as business cards, brochures, web domain expenses, etc.).

Did you know you may even be able to deduct work-related magazine subscriptions and books from your taxes? Your subscription to Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and other related magazines, as well as books on the craft of writing, such as grammar references, writing-related books, and The Writer’s Market can be deductible. Usually, any books considered research material for a writing project may be deductible. You may also qualify to deduct professional memberships, such as to your local or state writer’s group, or to a professional writing group such as Romance Writers of America, from your taxes.

The important thing is to make sure your keep receipts and document all expenses, including the date of purchase or travel, for all of these deductions. And remember, anything you claim must be a “necessary business deduction.” Other documentation you’ll want to keep to prove that you’re a dedicated writer (even if not yet a published one), include copies of emails sent to agents and publishers; query letters and a list of individuals to whom you’ve sent them; topics of long-distance phone calls to your editor, agent, or publisher; rejection letters and monthly fees paid to your Internet service provider.

The bottom line is that, while you must maintain documentation of your business-related expenses, you shouldn’t be afraid to claim these IRS-approved deductions on your taxes. After all, you are a writer!

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