Doing Taxes, for Writers

Tax documents are beginning to roll in from my day job, my bank… and any day I’m expecting 1099s from my agent. Less than three months until April 15, OMG!

I’ve been a fan of TurboTax for years, but this is the first time I’ll be itemizing deductions. At least, I think I will be. I guess it depends on how they compare to the standard deduction.

I confess that I haven’t been terribly organized about this tax stuff. (Big surprise, right? A writer not being organized about their tax stuff?) When I started submitting novels, I tried not to get my hopes up too much. That meant trying not to expect that I’d ever actually get paid to write. That meant not paying attention to the stuff I could deduct come tax time.

Then I got the check for the first half of my advance, and I realized, “Huh. I’d better start scavenging for receipts.” This was a big year for computer stuff: a new laptop, software, domain name. A conference here, a workshop there.

But I know there are things I missed. Books and pens I didn’t save the receipts for. Gas. Train tickets. Workshops that didn’t give me receipts. (I’m still not sure what to do about that.) I’ll have to start keeping better track.

Since I’m apparently determined to continue using TurboTax this year, I’ve been poking around online, looking for advice on what deductions writers can take. These are two that have proved informative as well as non-scary:

Non-scary except that now I’m trying to figure out whether I need to depreciate my laptop.

Got any tax tips for a new author?

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2 thoughts on “Doing Taxes, for Writers

  1. I haven’t gotten a check yet, so I’m off the hook until next year. Trying to save receipts. Do you know how much of our check we should be putting away for taxes??? I’m thinking 1/3?

    • I’m not certain, but I think 1/3 would be a generous amount to put away. Always better to be surprised by a refund, right? There’s also the issue of quarterly estimated taxes — which I decided not to deal with this year because my check came pretty late in the year, but in the future I guess I’ll have to think about it…

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