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.
aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David