Taxes for the Self-employed Author

Once upon a time I was involved in a chat at www.thewriterschatroom.com and taxes for authors were the topic. Here is the information I garnered from the chat.  I think taxes are a necessary evil and there was no way to make it humorous. So here is the untarnished truth, dry and humorless. But it you start the New Year out with these in mind you’ll be in better shape when taxes roll around in April.

There are two issues with taxes as an author. One is that most authors are self-employed and need to file taxes for the self-employed and the other is income taxes. Income taxes are based on your income and there are deductions you can use to reduce the amount of income tax you pay. And as an author and most authors are self-employed, you pay self employment taxes on your profit. For the self-employed one has to hold back twice the Social Security and also pay into Medicare. Social Security is 12% and Medicare is 3 or 4% more.

The deductions for income tax for self employment need careful record keeping. As a self-employed author you need to file income tax quarterly. If you have an office in your home, and most authors work out of their home, you can deduct for that. Otherwise itemize if you want to deduct office expenses.

You can write off 50% of your computer if you use it for writing and also personal use. If you have a computer used solely for writing and only writing you can deduct 100%.

Here is a list of what you can deduct:

  • Your workshops
  • Your ink, paper
  • Trips to the post office to mail submissions
  • Return envelopes with stamps
  • Envelopes and stamps
  • Mileage that is for business
  • Mileage for critique groups, book signings
  • Dues for writer organizations

Because it is so detailed to itemize you have to keep careful records. As you work, write down the writing expenses and save them for tax time.

This information above was obtained from a writers chat room chat on August 31, 2011. You can join in for other relevant chats at www.thewriterschatroom.com. There’s usually an issue relevant to writers on Wednesday and a chat with a well-known author on Sunday. My writer’s group also meets Wednesday evening so it isn’t often I can attend on Wednesday. I’ve found this site to be friendly to new comers and generally love to attend when I have time. I hope to see you there sometime. You can sign in anonymously or as I do, I just go as Clar.

What other expenses can you deduct? Have you thought about this issue before?

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About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
This entry was posted in blogging, Clara Bowman-Jahn, Clarike Bowman-Jahn, personal growth, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Taxes for the Self-employed Author

  1. Honey, with the right accountant, you can deduct anything.

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  2. Thanks for this Clar. Will look into it.

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  3. Like your post! I also have charitable deductions for the books I donate to churches, schools, etc. and promotional deductions for books I donate for promotional purposes.

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  4. Read your post in my e-mail, and forgot to stop and leave a comment. Enjoyed the tax information that you provided for authors. I appreciate your comments. My husband is retired, but self-employed, so a lot of what you said I knew about. It’s nice to have an accountant — it gets complex.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, it helps to have an accountant but for those of us who don’t it’s just keeping all the records that make a difference when tax time rolls around. We still itemize though. We have a lot of reasons and being a first author hasn’t been one of them until now.

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  5. I did the same thing at Patricia. I read it in my inbox and thought I should see if more deductions came up in the comments. Thanks also for your email heads up on the class. I don’t think I’ll do it this time, but hope to be ready for a critique maybe the next time.

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    • clarbojahn says:

      You’re welcome, Stacy. Maybe I’ll be ready again then, too. Do you have a crit group? You can always ask them before the professionals, too.

      Yes, maybe more comments will show more deductions later. 🙂

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      • I’m part of a SCWBI group that meets every other month. It’s still in the development stages. There are some online opportunities, too. I’ve been focusing on writing and not too worried about critiques just yet.

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        • clarbojahn says:

          Yes, me, too. SCBWI has possibilities. I must get going on it. However if I spend time working on getting a crit group up there goes my time for writing. Why are there only twenty four hours in a day? 🙂

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  6. clarbojahn, you’re lucky. Suddenly my writing day has shrunk to only 3 or 4 hours because I am caring for my terminally ill husband at home, with help from hospice. Yet I accidentally (?) found your article and your blog and found it worthwhile to linger a while. I’ll be back. How about adding subscriptions to writers’ publications? Can I deduct air flight if 4 publicity events, signings. and meetings were held over a three week period? If so, what kind of verification is needed?

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    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, I am lucky but I know what you are going through. My late husband died of lung cancer and I nursed him, held down a job and raised two boys for six months before he died. Then it got worse so please know my thoughts are with you and so are my prayers.

      About your question; I don’t think the time matters as long as you have receipts from the writing events and can prove they were for business, you can deduct them from your income.

      Thanks for visiting and hope to see you around some more. 🙂

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  7. If you work from a home office, you need to calculate how much of your house square footage it equals to (5%, 15%, etc). Then you can deduct that percentage from all your home related utilities, including property taxes if you don’t itemize them already. Honestly, with software like Turbotax, it’s tedious but not that complicated to do your taxes.

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  8. clarbojahn says:

    Those are good points, P.M. thanks for telling us about them.
    I appreciate you stopping in and reading this. 🙂

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