Monday, February 15, 2010

Very Taxing

Turbo Tax and I have started working on my 2009 income taxes. I say "started" because ever since I added "fiction writer" to my resume my taxes have gotten complicated.

Oh, I always itemized. But my "items" were few and simple – mortgage interest, property taxes, interest income and a couple of other things. Click a few keys, hit print, then send and my refund would arrived in 2 to 3 weeks.

Now I have a "home office." I have to sort through a drawer-full of crumpled receipts. Promotion expenses are the worst – I have receipts for tiny rubber ducks (they were wedding ducks used in the promotion of Murder Takes the Cake). I also have actual "cake" receipts. My co-author and I ran a promotion last summer for librarians – "Have Your Cake & Eat It Too." Very successful, if expensive. We sent Smith Island Cakes to a half dozen very happy librarians.

There were also flyers and bookmarks. Not cheap, but deductable. And the postage to mail all those flyers and bookmarks, yep I've got piles of those receipts. Just need to find my calculator and total them up.

And books. Note to the public and authors' relatives – authors at small publishing houses (and many large ones too) don't get a lot of free authors' copies of their novel. So when a reviewer needs a copy or a charity wants to raffle off an autographed copy, it's more likely than not, the book being supplied is one the author purchased. The costs of those promotional copies also get itemized.

I attended the Love Is Murder Conference in Chicago last February. I drove so there's a rental car receipt in that file drawer somewhere, along with the hotel receipts. And gas receipts. Note to self - include the fuel costs from Oklahoma to the Windy City.

What's next? Website hosting fees? Nope, my co-author paid for that. I paid for the Constant Contact newsletter service. I've got those receipts in my desk drawer, along with copies of my annual dues payments to Sisters In Crime and Romance Writers of America (don't ask – at some point I was considering writing romantic suspense).

Then there's the toner costs, paper costs, posters, poster frames, a folding table and two folding chairs for book signings, and the cost of some netting material to stuff those little yellow rubber ducks into.

Since authors usually only get two royalty statements a year, adding up the income is easy. I'm sorry to say I don't even need a calculator for that.

Sigh. Nothing like tax time to discourage an author.

Rhonda
aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

4 comments:

  1. I have a hint for your for next year when you do taxes. Get 12 folders one for each month and when you buy or have any receipt for something that can be tax deductable..put that slip in that folder for that month. When I was in bussiness for myself I did this and then I only had to go thru 12 folders end of the year and know where it all was. I used to go as far as to complete the deductions on a work sheet and put it in the folder when it was done for the month..that way end of the year you had 12 work sheets telling you what is what. It truly saved alot of work in the end and things were all in one plastic box in one place. Hope I have helped. susan L.

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  2. I bet you're more organized than that. I tote everything up at the end of each month, makes it much easier at the end of the year.

    I'm not through yet as I'm waiting on some 1099s, but like you, I've done enough on Schedule C to know that I spend far more on promo than I make selling books.

    Writing is an addiction.

    Marilyn
    http://fictionforyou.com

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  3. I feel your pain. I've got a system that works for me but it's still time consuming to sort it out: I have one folder marked "Invoices" with invoices and their appropriate checks stapled to them; "Business Expenses" which includes everything related to the business I run here; "Medical Expenses" which in itself, is bulging due to the past several years. But I still have to go through the charitable donations every year because I need to create a new folder for those, but never do. I'm procrastinating right now, because I fear that this year, I'll owe, which doesn't feel good. Good luck with your "taxing" duties! Maggie

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  4. Thanks guys for the suggestions. I'll try the folder thing next year. I probably don't take half the deductions I could if I were more organized.

    Rhonda
    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

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