Every year around this time, I put out a short list of tax tips for writers. For the sake of tradition, I'll do so again:
- Compare the number that appears on your Amazon 1099 with the total of all the amounts that have been deposited into your account. You will notice there's a small discrepancy. The difference is caused by the foreign currency conversion fee that you have been charged for overseas sales. This is a business expense and should be reported as such on your return.
- If you have a profit, make sure you fill out the 1040 SE form. You will be required to pay your fair share of social security and Medicare taxes. Make sure you deduct these from your business income. I believe you can deduct up to 40%. The reason I don't know is because I had a slight loss this year.
- Travel expenses (half of your meals, parking, taxi, air travel, lodging, etc.) are all valid business expenses and should be claimed.
- Keep meticulous records! I can't stress this enough. If you are ever audited, the IRS will want to see receipts and a mileage log if you claim mileage. These days, such records can be scanned and securely stored in the cloud.
- Review your tax return with a critical eye. This is especially important if someone else does your taxes. I found a mistake on my return several years ago and had to file a corrected return. Don't just assume that the person who prepared your taxes knows what they are doing. You know your business better than anyone else. You should know what you're sending the IRS as well.
My schedule is going to be pretty busy over the next month or so. I am attending a convention from March 1st through the 3rd. Even though it is only an hour's drive from here, I plan on spending the nights there. This will give me more time to write as well as hang out in the author showroom until closing. I don't plan on making enough to cover my room expense, but I'm going to get a lot of writing done and I hope to meet some interesting people as well.
The very next weekend, I start working 12-hour days. The nuclear plant I work at will be shutting down to refuel and that means 12-hour days. My job during the outage will be to keep the reporting systems running smoothly and to work on all the programs I maintain. The outage will last for 25 days. Don't expect me to be doing any writing during the outage, there's not going to be any time!