Writers are born to create. Most can string words together seamlessly because words are your thing. However, some creatives find numbers and taxes too much trouble. If that's you, don't worry.
Taxes are my thing. Numbers speak to me like words speak to you. That's why I want to help you with your taxes. This article includes 12 tax deductions just for writers like you. Keep them in mind as you create and use them at tax time to minimize your taxable income.
Below are the most common expenses that writers can claim. So, go ahead and deduct them.
1. Good Eats & Treats
Everybody's gotta eat, and you can write off meals. However, there is a catch. You can't write off solo meals. To make a meal a business expense, it should be a meal where you are conducting business.
So, dine out with a prospective publisher, an editor, another writer, or two. You can deduct 50% of the costs of business meals when you are eating with a colleague or traveling out of town. Remember, unless you're meeting with another business contact, your food and drinks aren't considered a deductible business expense.
2. Parties, Books Clubs, More Food, and Fun
Want to write off a party? I support you. According to the IRS rules, you can deduct 50% of your entertaining expenses, as long as the primary purpose of the gathering is writing.
And guess what? A book club counts since those are basically discussions about literature. So, get lit with fellow writers or book lovers. Hopefully, your book or writing piece is the focus of the party.
To ensure there are no questions about your party purchases, I recommend you use your business credit card or a separate bank account. Use the credit card or the different bank account to pay for the food and drinks at the store. Whatever you do, don't lump your groceries for the party with any personal food for the week.
Good news, you can write off Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon too as long as you view them for writing inspiration. Maybe you watch a few movies for screenplay ideas or your next fiction novel. Either way, they are expenses you can deduct from your taxes.
If you also Netflix and chill for personal reasons, then you can only write off a portion of the cost, maybe 50%. But something is better than nothing. So, start watching, get inspired, and take notes.
You can write off the top magazines and newspapers for writers too. Whatever you order and read is tax-deductible. Gather a list and keep track of what you pay. Then, deduct the costs of your reading materials. Everything you read provides an opportunity for learning, whether it's about language, sentences, and writing structure. Call it market research why don't you.
So, go ahead and subscribe to your favorite newspaper or tabloid publications. Your support can help another writer out.
4. All Your Spaces in Different Places
As a writer, you may create and post your writing in different places. Fortunately for you, the IRS allows you to write off your website, office space, and office decor like the furniture.
Your website is your digital space. Your very own online real estate. It's where companies can find you and decide if they want to hire you. Therefore, it's a significant part of your business and an expense you can write off each year.
But the write-offs don't stop there. You can also deduct your domain name, hosting fees, website theme, and the costs of hiring a graphic designer or programmer. Don't forget to include any freelancers you utilized to make your website and online platforms the best.
Your Home Office or Co-working Space
Believe it or not, you can write off the place where you create. Remember, your office is not just where all the magic happens. It's where your work gets done and how your bills get paid.
Here are few tips to keep the expense legit. Write off a home office that is your dedicated writing area. Don't write off a room that serves as a play space for the kids and happens to have a chair and a desk. So, keep the kids out and write your heart out.
This deduction is calculated based on the square footage of your office space. You might have to get a measuring tape, but its worth doing the math if it saves you hundreds on your taxes.
Can't work at home? No problem. You can also write off your office space at co-working spaces like WeWork, Impact Hub, and more.
Office Decor and More
If you need beautiful decor around you to create, go shopping, baby! That's right, you can write off your chair, desk, shaggy rug, desk lamps and more. Don't forget the paint for the walls or art for your inspiration. Anything you buy for your office, deduct it.
5. Equipment & Gadgets
Do you want to buy the latest laptop to write on the go? Well, you can write off equipment and tech gadgets that you use for your writing. But this is another area where personal use of that same item may require you only deduct a portion of the expense.
When it's tax time, be honest about your usage, and if you use your laptop 70% of the time for your writing, then you can write off 70% of the cost.
Grammarly enables you to compose writing without mistakes, Freedom helps you block the internet so you can focus on your writing, and Mailchimp (or any other email service provider) connects you to your audience.
Note: Every writer needs a mailing list. Who else is going to buy your book first?
6. Office Supplies
Hey, maybe you are an old fashion note-taker that does first drafts with a pen and paper. That's fine. Feel free to write off your office supplies, including pens, paper, envelopes, and more. Oh and don't forget, you can write off all the books that you buy because books are research for writers.
7. Marketing & Ads
Of course, you can deduct marketing and ads, which help get the word out about your work. But did you know you can also deduct free copies of your book that you give away for promotions?
You can also write off the costs of getting an ISBN, book printing, any publishing costs, shipping to get your book to you, and more.
8. Fees, Fees, Deduct All You Want
Yep, I said it. You can deduct expenses for submitting your work for consideration for contests, publishers, and movie makers. Don't forget the postage, too, if you turn in any snail mail submissions. Track each and every one. Don't forget about bank fees like the costs for your business checking account or ATM fees too.
9. Travel, Conferences, and Adventures
I am the king of travel, and I've mastered the art of turning a vacation into a legit business expense. So, trust me when I say you can write off your travel, conferences, and writing retreats.
This is a vast area for tax deductions and one you don't' want to miss. Track your mileage to writing-related meetings and trips with the app Miles IQ. You can deduct the miles to your local bookstore, book club, or drives to the post office, or conferences.
Road trips outside of your stomping grounds count too. If you go for a drive to do research that counts. I know so much info can be found on the internet, but you can still learn from libraries too.
If you decide to get away and join others on a writing retreat, your retreat is tax-deductible.
Keep your receipts for the hotel, airfare, parking, and retreat registration. Most of your expenses related to the trip are all business expenses worth claiming. Just remember the food is only 50% deductible, even including the tips.
10. Your Dream Team
Every prominent writer has a dream team. So you better dream big. Your team could consist of an agent, maybe a publicist, an editor, and of course, an excellent accountant--like me. Any fees that you pay to members of your squad are tax-deductible.
You can also deduct fees for any memberships you pay to get freelance writing gigs or opportunities. Any money you spend to find writing work is a business expense worth writing off.
11. Other Taxes
This might sound strange, but it's true. You can deduct your other tax payments, like Social Security taxes, from your taxes.
Let me say that again. Anyone self-employed pays Social Security and Medicare taxes just like employees of a corporation do. However, employees pay half of the taxes, and the company pays the other half. But because you are self-employed, you pay it all.
Here's the silver lining. You can deduct half of what you pay! This is deducted differently from a business expense, but I can help make sure it's done right.
12. Past Expenses
If you forget to deduct some expenses one year and then need more deductions the next year, you can claim costs you previously forgot to include.
Good record keeping can help you keep your expenses in line, but mistakes do happen. Don't worry, I can help with this. There is something called "carryover." It's when you take expenses from last year and roll them into this year so you can pay fewer taxes.
Carryover can be a lifesaver when you have a terrible year, and your expenses far exceed your income. Then the next year, your income explodes, and you want to claim more deductions so you can pay fewer taxes.
Let’s Get It
With these tax tips, you are ready to maximize your income and minimize your taxes. Remember to keep good records of your expenses. Keeping track of your expenses can save you hundreds of dollars in taxes.
Maintain bank and credit card statements and receipts from business purchases. Keep an excel spreadsheet or use nifty software like Quickbooks or Evernote to electronically store and retain everything.
Most importantly, talk to me--your tax guy, if you need any help along the way. I can help you with your taxes throughout the year and during tax season too.