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Tax Deductions for Writers – If you’re a writer or author (or aspiring author), you’re probably paying more than necessary each year in taxes, without realizing it. This article about freelance writer taxes explains.

It’s part of our article library for authors
who want to Get a Literary Agent
on our Literary Agent Blog.

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Tax Deductions for Writers – What You Need to Know

This article is for you if you’re already deducting some of your expenses as a writer, and it’s for you if you didn’t realize you could deduct some of your expenses as a writer.

Either way, I can probably
save you some moolah.

Maybe a few hundred dollars, or, perhaps,
many thousands of dollars (yes, it’s possible).

Are you interested?

Even if you’re made of money, why would you want to waste any? That’d be like throwing a perfectly good steak (or salad, for you vegetarians) into the trash (can you tell I’m hungry?).

So, let’s get started…

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Tax Deductions for Writers – Disclaimer

Before I tell you what might be possible for you regarding tax deductions for writers, I have to tell you a few other things.

* First, tax laws vary from country to country, state to state, province to province, city to city, etc. So make sure you consult with a tax professional about tax deductions for writers.

* Second, there might be unique considerations based on your personal situation that you need to consider when making author tax deductions. So make sure you consult with a tax professional about tax deductions for writers.

* Third, I’m not a tax expert. So make sure you consult with a tax professional about tax deductions for writers.

Now that we have
that out of the way…

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What You Need to Know About Freelance Writer Taxes

Here’s the deal.

If you’re an writer or author hoping to sell your books, articles, or whatever in your lifetime…even if it’s going to be several years from now because you’re just getting started…you’re not just a writer…

You’re an entrepreneur.

In other words, according to the government,
your writing isn’t just a hobby.

It’s a business.

That’s why you need to know about
tax deductions for writers.

Even if your work isn’t finished yet. Even if you’ve never gotten paid a dollar as a writer. Even if you don’t spend that much time writing and/or marketing your writing. Even if you have one or more jobs, including one that’s full-time.

If you’ve invested any time and/or money into your writing, and you ever plan on making money as an author (even if it’s just 99 cents for a copy of your book), your writing is a business. If you claim tax deductions for writers, you can pay fewer taxes because of it.

The best part?

It’s really simple.

The basic idea is that you’re probably spending money on things (maybe lots of things) related to your writing that you’re not “getting credit” for. In other words, if you wanted to, you could claim those things as business expenses (tax deductions for writers). In other words, you can deduct the cost of those things (or at least part of the cost) from your overall annual income (including all sources of income like a job, etc.), and then you can pay fewer taxes.

In other words, if you’re in the 25% tax bracket and I help you see that you have $1,000 worth of tax deductions for writers, I’ll be saving you $250. If I help you see that you have $10,000 worth of tax deductions for writers, I’ll be saving you $2,500.


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Which Tax Deductions for Writers Are Right for You?

You don’t need to do a lot of paperwork to take advantage of tax deductions for writers, but you do need to figure out what you can deduct (and you need to save your receipts).

So, let’s figure out which
tax deductions for writers
are right for you:

* Office/Home Office
You can deduct space in your home or rental that’s used exclusively (or in part) for your writing business. If you have a room that you can turn into an office, do it. You can even deduct that space in your basement that’s being used to store your books and banners for books signings. Seriously. Then you get to calculate the percentage of space in your home that you’re using for these things, and deduct the corresponding cost. For example, if you’re renting a house and your office takes up 15% of your home, you can deduct 15% of your rent. This is one of the best tax deductions for writers.

* Computer/Laptop/Tablet
Similar to the above, even if you don’t use your computer, laptop, or tablet exclusively for writing, you can still deduct part of the expense. After all, writing isn’t the only business-related activity that you do with those devices. More about this below under “Internet.”

* Other Equipment
What other equipment in your home do you have and/or use that’s related to your writing? Desk? Chair? Table? Bookshelves? File cabinet(s)? Printer? Wireless Internet router? Trashcan? Furnishings in your office? TV? Backup hard drive(s)? Tax deductions for writers.

* Insurance
It doesn’t matter if you have homeowners insurance or renter’s insurance, you can deduct part of that cost as well.

* Vehicle
Even if you don’t use your automobile exclusively for writing-related trips and excursions, you can still deduct part of the expense. That trip you took to the bookstore yesterday is just the beginning. There are a couple different ways to deduct car expenses, so make sure you talk a tax professional.

* Phone
You can deduct some of your phone expenses also, especially if you have more than one phone.

* Internet
You can’t research a thing or participate in lots of writer activities (like reading this column) without Internet access. Another deduction!

* Office Supplies
Binders, portfolios, paper, pens, ink, printer cartridges, envelopes, boxes, etc. What items and “consumables” do you pay for that might be deductible?

* Website
If you have a website that talks about your writing (in full or in part), you can deduct the cost of that as well (or part of it). Any costs related to developing, building, maintaining, or hosting the site are tax deductions for writers.

* Travel
Taken any trips lately that you can connect to your writing? Can you say research? Of course you’ll only be able to deduct part of the expense for a trip if it’s part business, part pleasure. And don’t forget to take deductions for any writers’ conferences you attend, also. Hotel. Airfare. Etc.

* Meals
You can deduct 50% of the cost of any meals that you have out at a restaurant, etc. if you talk about your writing before, during, or after the meal and make it a “business meeting.” How cool is that?

* Magazines, Books, Etc.
Since you’re a writer, a lot of the things you read are tax deductions for writers. Not just publishing industry trade magazines, either. Are you a fiction writer? Then every novel you buy and read is deductible, as long as you’re studying your genre and/or the craft of the writers whose books you’re reading.

* Movies
Same as the above.

* Cable TV
Ditto, again. Just make sure you only deduct part of your cable bill since not everything you watch on TV is writing-related.

* Health Insurance
You might be able to deduct the cost of your health insurance and some of your medical expenses as well.

* Dues & Subscriptions
Are you a member of any writers’ group, or other organizations and associations? Do you pay to back up your writing/data on the Internet? Do you subscribe to any paid subscriptions like Publishers Marketplace? More deductions!

* Banking Fees
If you’ve set up a separate bank account for your writing business, you can claim the cost of getting checks printed, your banking fees, etc. More tax deductions for writers.

* Coaching/Consulting Services
Have you worked with someone like me? A coach, consultant, editor, etc.? Or, are you planning on it? You can deduct it, one hundred percent.

* Other Professional Services
What other professional services have you paid for? Tax preparation? Legal? Etc.? Yes, more tax deductions for writers. Claim it all!

* Other Expenses
What else are you paying for that’s related to your writing? Get creative. You have nothing to lose. After all, the tax professional you work with will tell you what you can deduct, and what you can’t.

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Freelance Writer Taxes –Common Questions

What Kind of Help Will I Need to File
My Tax Deductions for Writers?

As long as you keep track of your expenses and save your receipts, it’ll be pretty painless. You’ll have an easier time though if you get a debit/credit card that you use just for business expenses, and download those expenses into a program like Quicken. You’ll still need to keep track of cash transactions, but this one trick will save you a lot of time and headaches.

What Will It Cost Me to Get Help with My
Tax Deductions for Writers At Tax Time?

It shouldn’t cost you more than a few hundred dollars. If your situation is more complex, it might cost you a little more. But the first year I worked with a tax professional, when I was a literary agent, the lady who helped me found a mistake I’d made that would have cost me more than $600. I’ll never grumble about paying for someone to help me ever again.

How Can I Find A Good Tax Professional To Help
Me At Tax Time with Tax Deductions for Writers?

Obviously, you can ask around in your local area and try to find someone who’s both experienced and reputable, but in case you don’t have those connections…here’s a smart tip. Search online for tax preparation providers in your area. Then look at the reviews to see who’s good and who’s not. If you’re looking at H&R Block, for example, and you’re paying attention, you’ll also notice that they have normal offices and premium offices. Contact the premium office because they’ll likely have better people with more experience. Also, try to get a senior person at the location (you’ll often see their title and years of experience on their website). Your cost will likely be the same (you’re paying for the service, not the person), so why not get someone with more experience?

When Should I Contact a  Tax Professional
to Help Me with Tax Deductions for Writers
and What Can I Expect?

Plan on scheduling two meetings the first year you do this. During the first meeting, you’ll be able to ask questions and find out exactly what your tax professional needs from you to file your taxes. You won’t need to provide all your receipts, just the correct amounts of money for all of the above categories of tax deductions for writers. But you’re going to need some help figuring out the correct percentage of things that you can claim. In other words, you can’t deduct your entire Internet and cable bill, but you can deduct some of it. Your tax professional will help you figure out how much. It’s different for everyone. After that meeting, you’ll put a list of tax deductions for writers together (actual numbers) and send them to your tax professional. When he or she has finished preparing your taxes, you’ll meet to review everything and sign the paperwork. It’s that simple.

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How Many Tax Deductions for Writers Did You Find?

Are you blown away by this article about freelance writer taxes? Or, did I at least help you see one or two possible tax deductions for writers that you hadn’t thought about? Tell me below in the comments area. And, of course, let me know if you have any questions. I’m always happy to help when I can, even if it just means pointing you in the right direction.

All my best,

–  Mark

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