Erotica author, aka Elspeth Potter, on Writing from the Inside

Thursday, March 5, 2009

a writer does her taxes

Tax time is coming around here in the U.S., and for the first time I have enough writing income to report.

This blog post should go on to say how I researched tax codes, collected information, sat down with a sharp pencil and paper...except I didn't do any of that.

I emailed a bunch of writer friends and asked them who did their taxes for them, and begged the favor of an introduction. I was introduced to my new tax person a few months later, and at her request, sold her a copy of The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover. Then I proceeded to pepper her with questions. She's the expert, after all.

Most of what I've done for taxes is assemble things. I put together all the forms reporting my income, including the novel income on a 1099 form, which is provided by one's agent. I then went through a year's worth of relevant, tax-deductible receipts. Those included books I bought for research (both historical research and genre research, i.e., romance novels), travel to conferences such as RWA National in San Francisco and various science fiction conventions, computer supplies such as a flash drive, blank cds, and my Acer Aspire One, dues paid to professional organizations such as RWA, SFWA, and Broad Universe, and the costs to register my web domain and pay for hosting.

It took a while to organize all those receipts, find the ones I'd neglected to save, and total them up, but hopefully it will be worth it because I'll get to keep a little more of my novel income. I'll ship the forms and the totals (with various detail information) off to my tax person, and she will take care of the rest. Next year, the money she charges me for this invaluable service will also be deductible!

And now to what I have learned in this process:

1. Have different envelopes for different categories of receipts, and sort the receipts into them as they accumulate.

2. Small receipts work better if you tape them to a larger piece of paper. I did this at the end, and am very glad I did so.

3. Spreadsheets are your friend.

Now I need to hunt up how much I paid for that flight to San Francisco for RWA.


  1. Good advice! Up until last year, I always did our taxes. What a headache. Then hubby convinced me we could hire an accountant and now I'm glad to be relieved of the worst of it. Of course, I still have to keep track of receipts and, as you pointed out, it's easier to keep them organized as I go rather than scrambling to find them during tax season. Sigh. The joys of being a writer, huh? :)

  2. I was lucky in that my book was bought the end of 2007, but I didn't get any money until 2008, so I had a head start on keeping receipts, and plenty of time to ponder the difficulties of doing it myself. I soon panicked utterly at the thought, and am now happy I did so!