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Tax write-offs for writers

Saturday, I got my 1099 in the mail from my agent, telling me how much "book money" I earned for 2008. Last night, I sat down and did my taxes. Or to be more accurate, I filled out the worksheet my accountant sends me every year, and organized all of my receipts. My accountant is also a tax attorney -- I love this guy; he stays on top of every new rule & regulation. When you sign your first publishing contract, it's a good idea to set up a meeting with your accountant. And if you don't have one, you might want to consider getting one. Good investment.

Anyhoo, I thought I'd do a repeat of the "tax write-offs for writers" post that I did last year, making a few changes based on what I found in my receipt stacks last night.

There are all kinds of things that you can write-off on your taxes when you become a published (and paid) author:

  • Office equipment and furnishings
  • Office supplies
  • Phone calls related to your work
  • The part of your home exclusively devoted to your writing. (Check with your accountant about the possibility of deducting a percentage of your house payment or power bill if you do the majority of your writing from your home office.)
  • Postage (mailing galleys back to your publisher or mailing out prizes to your fans)
  • Research expenses
  • Hired help to do office work or assist with editing or research (SNORT, like I can afford an assistant. Hmmm, I wonder if this covers hiring a chef so I don't have to cook. Note to self: Ask Mike. Second note to self: Ingore Mike laughing at you because you asked that question.)
  • Reference books (Woot!)
  • Computer, printer, fax machine. (Had to buy a new laptop last year.)
  • Software (I had to buy the new version of Word to go with my new laptop. I like it.)
  • Magazines or newsletters related to your work. (I use the heck out of this one.)
  • Advertising (Ads in magazines don't come cheap. I love this deduction.)
  • Internet access (Yes, we all surf way too much; but if you email your agent and editor, and conduct writing business online, your monthy Internet bill is deductible.)
  • Dues or memberships in writer's organizations (This can get pricey, too. Great deduction.)
  • Seminars or training sessions to help you learn something related to your craft. (Conference expenses are deductible.)
  • Travel expenses -- including food, lodging, mileage, and parking. (This applies to conferences, speaking engagements, events, book signings, anywhere you travel/drive related to your work.)
  • Photography and photo processing (Need new headshots? It's deductible.)
  • Web design, promotional item design, website maintenance, website hosting fees
  • Any additional artwork and design
  • Entertainment related to your work -- everything from taking your editor to lunch, to throwing a party to celebrate your book's completion. This includes gifts for the bookstore manager who coordinates your booksigning, gifts for your publishing team (editor, editorial assistant, agent, agent's assistant, your publicist, etc.)

KEEP RECORDS OF EVERYTHING!! Save every receipt, bill, everything. I use an accordion file folder and I keep it in my safe. (Yep, I'm extra special paranoid about losing important paperwork.)

I'm sure there are probably more deductions, but that's what I could come up with. And for you authors out there, if you do know of other deductions, let a sister author know. ; )

Lisa

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