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Taxing Times for Freelance Writers

Tax Day is coming up fast. April 15th is less than three months away. If you are self-employed as a freelance writer or independent contractor for a publisher or agency, then you may already be feeling the crunch.

How soon should you start cranking out those numbers, and where do you start? 

Which receipts do you need to keep? Can you really deduct everything you buy at the bookstore and all those magazine subscriptions? How about continuing education costs and admission fees to cultural and sporting events?

Are your eyes rolling back into your head yet?

Many freelance writers hire professional certified public accountants (CPAs) to keep track of taxable income, allowed deductions, depreciations and other details. (I do.) If your family finances are complex, you may find the enlistment of a CPA to be a worthwhile investment.

My CPA more than pays for his cost, just in the tax savings he finds each year. What’s more, I suspect he has protected me from unintentional tax transgressions more than once as well.

Sometimes it feels as if freelance writers and self-employed individuals have “Audit Me” targets painted on our foreheads. It happens. We were audited several years ago, and the government actually ended up owing me money. (OK, that’s another story, and it was a little over $50. But I felt like a #winner, anyway.)

Plenty of writers produce their own paperwork for tax time.

Bloggers, poets, novelists, columnists, stringers and other freelance copy producers suddenly find themselves donning finance hats to prepare for April 15th. Many of us are adept with words, but we may struggle with numbers or balk at the prospect of reviewing current tax laws.

My friend and writing colleague Angie Mohr, who happens to be a certified management accountant, is offering a helpful resource. Angie’s eBook, titled “Tax Preparation & Planning for Freelance Writers” (published in 2011 by Hounslow Press as part of the Small Business University eSeries), contains practical pointers for preparing taxes.

Check out these chapters:

  1. Setting Up an Income & Expense Tracking System
  2. Freelance Writing Revenue
  3. Home Office Expenses
  4. Automobile Expenses
  5. Direct Writing Expenses
  6. Can I Write That Off?
  7. Filling Out Schedule C
  8. Minimizing Your Tax Bill
  9. Tax Planning for Next Year
Usually priced at $8.99, the 75-page eBook is available for $6.99 as a PDF download until January 31st. (Amazon offers the book free to its Prime members.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm in the middle of all this and it's terrifying! I'd rather go to the dentist than lay out my taxes.

    Thanks for the book suggestion. I'll take a look.

    I'm in the A to Z Challenge, so hope to see you around here in the next few months.


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