Saturday, February 15, 2020

Tax Time Checklist For Writers

Does your business have a name?  Do you write as an LLC?
If you are an LLC, do you have an EIN, (Employer Id Number) even if you have no employees, and have you filed an annual report with your State and paid the fee?

Is the business an ongoing one?  If not, when did you dispose of it?
Do you have an inventory?
If you do, was there a change in the quantities, costs, or value between your opening inventory on Jan 1st 2019 and your closing inventory on Dec 31st 2019?

Were you involved in the business on a regular or substantial basis?
Did you pay anyone more that $600 to assist you with your work, if so, have you prepared forms 1099 for them?

You can get these forms mailed to you free from the IRS website. You do not need to enrich any office supply shop. If you need 1099s, you will also need 1096s for the government.

Who paid you?  Do you have 1099-Ks?  How about 1099-MISCs?  Royalties? Sales?  Did you charge tax?

If you sold produce, what was the cost of your materials and supplies? Were there other costs? (Mailing, perhaps?)

Are you depreciating your business inventory?  If you have computers, iphones, ipads, printers, scanners, antivirus subscriptions, thumb/flash drives, a subscription to or its like etc, you could be depreciating those.

What about your expenses?  Are you paying for advertising? Do you have travel expenses... to the post office or to your mail box or to your local office supply store?  Do you have parking fees or tolls in connection with business... maybe to attend an Authors Guild or RWA local chapter meeting? If you went off-site, can you claim for hotels, and meals, and registration fees, and taxis and goodness knows what else?
If you were lucky enough to buy a best selling author or an editor a drink, you might claim for that (if you kept the receipt)!

How about your expenses in attending an AGM or convention?

Don't forget about insurance. Did you pay to protect yourself in case you are sued for whatever reason, rightly or wrongly?  An author must protect himself/herself/themself. Other than health insurance, an author can probably claim a deduction.

Did you pay a lawyer?  Did you pay a webmaster? Did you pay a designer? An editor? A reader? A printer? A publicist? A babysitter?

If you are using a specific room in your home exclusively for your writing, you can deduct a fraction of the costs of your home for whatever percentage the office is of your home size... so what is your mortgage? Or your rent? What are your heating bills? What are your electricity bills? Water and sewer? What are your burglar alarm bills? What are your internet/cable bills? Phone bills? Repair and maintenance bills?  ETC.

Are you making enough from your writing to fund an IRA?

Do not forget supplies: ink, toner, paper, envelopes and mailers, storage and filing supplies, files, folders, staples, replacing surge protectors, storage, etc.  Also any repairs and maintenance and geek squad visits or paid visits to the genius bar.

Did you keep a record of the taxes you have paid, the license fees.

You can also claim for your subscriptions, memberships, union dues, and your PO Box.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

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