~ By Avery Flynn
Because life as a writer with an EDJ isn’t crazy enough, we decided to sell our house and move out to the boonies so we could have a yard, save for the kids’ college funds, go on vacations and move me another step closer to writing full time.
Yes, I really do want it all. I’m selfish that way. 😉
As part of the process, I’ve become best friends with my banker. And horror of all horrors, I have to create a profit and loss report for both the business I own and my business as a writer. *insert Law and Order dum-dum-dum music here*
Ugh. Talk about a buzz kill.
But lucky for me, my accountant is another BFF (even if it’s only in my mind) and he has schooled me on the importance of good record keeping. He did a CPA review course and passed his CPA exam so he now helps me with my finances. And since the end of the year is only a few short months away, this is a great time – if you haven’t already – to get your tax house in order. So let’s talk about money. More specifically taxes. Paying tax is necessary for everyone working in America. Newcomers to the United States might not be aware that they may not be eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN). If this is the case, it’s worth finding out What is an ITIN instead to make sure you can pay your taxes on time.
First off, know that none of this is meant as professional advice. I am not now nor have I ever been an accountant – trust me, one glance at my checkbook and you’d realize how true that is. However, I’ve learned a few things the hard way that may make paying the piper a little easier for you.
- Writing is your passion, your love and your obsession. It’s also your business. Even if your business isn’t a profitable one, you need to keep track of expenses and consult with an accountant or tax software program to take advantage of the deductions available to your small businesses
- Keep receipts for everything: how-to books, research, association memberships, continuing education courses, meetings, paper, pens and anything else that has to do with your writing. That rule includes some big ticket items such as laptops and printers, also. You may be able to write off these expenses at the end of the year. I’ve yet to convince my accountant that my gargantuan investment in coffee is a necessary business expense, but if I ever succeed I’ll let you know.
- If you have a dedicated space for writing that is used only for that, you may be able to take a home office deduction. It doesn’t matter if it’s an individual room, an alcove or an empty closet (hey, I’ve been there), what’s important is that you use it only for business.
- When you are operating a profitable writing business (and may this be all of you), pay your estimated taxes on time and in full – state and federal. Not doing so can mean the difference between going to Disney and having a stay-cation because you drained your vacation fund to pay taxes. That sound you hear? It’s my kids whining.
- Get in touch with your inner money honey. You’re a writer, you know how to do research. Turn those skills to the money side of your writing business to discover how you can help to make it a more profitable one.
Money. It’s not something we writers talk about all the time, but we should. After all, as Big Worm says in the movie Friday:
Amen to that.
Avery Flynn is the author of the Layton family series (Temptation Creek, Seduction Creek, Passion Creek) and Jax and the Beanstalk Zombies as well as two upcoming series: Killer Fashion, a romantic suspense series, and Sweet Salvation Brewery, a contemporary romance series about triplets who inherit a brewery. She has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip. Find out more about Avery on her website, follow her on Twitter, like her on her Facebook page or friend her on her Facebook profile. Also, if you figure out how to send Oreos through the Internet, she’ll be your best friend for life.