Monday, January 20, 2014

#MIHBlog - Tax Tips for Writers by SS Hampton, Sr.




          Belated Happy New Year!

          For Americans, you know what that means—‘tis the beginning of the tax season! And for those of us who are writers that has special meaning.

          Before I continue, let me emphasize that I am not a tax professional. Be sure to consult a professional, such as a tax accountant or have a professional prepare your tax return. I can give you some ideas regarding expenses you should claim for future tax seasons, but remember, I am not a professional.

          First, always keep your receipts in support of your claimed expenses in case anyone wishes to examine your records.

          Second, document everything you purchase or pay in support of your writing. Every book, every magazine, newspapers, reams of Xerox paper, inkjet cartridges, paper clips, yellow stickies, even pencils, and pens.

Perhaps you organize your research material into Manila file folders or 3-ring binders—those cost money. Maybe you are writing a story about bush pilots in Alaska, the Silk Road, or the Battle of the Little Big Horn—short of having the funds to physically visit such locations, your best bet is to buy a DVD about the subjects—count those purchases too. Anything you use in support of your writing, within reason of course, claim the expense.

          If you buy a computer or printer/copier in support of your writing, document that. Maybe you need to buy USB flash drives or backup storage drives just in case your computer crashes. And maybe you need filing cabinets to store your business records and writing materials. For conducting research you may want to buy a digital camera or for interviews, a digital voice recorder with collar microphone. Those cost money in support of your writing, too.

          These days the Internet is found in most American homes—access to the Internet is not free. You might use anywhere from 30%-50% of your Internet connection to conduct research, submit your manuscript, communicate with your editor and publisher, fans, establish an author website, and organize on-line book release parties, and local book signings.

For book signings don’t forget the expense of all of the SWAG you bring, as well as any “booth fees” you might have to pay. By the way, and this can be a sticky area, the expense of hosting a real-live book launch party is probably deductible. You might need a sign-in sheet as well as a record of expenses for food, refreshments, SWAG, and maybe copies of any publicity announcing the book launch party. And photographs, even in the age of Photoshop, is usually good supporting evidence for claiming an event. For this, especially, consult a tax professional.

          Whether you own or rent your residence, perhaps you have set aside a room your writing den. Based on square feet utilized, that can equal a percentage of your rent or mortgage payments you could claim as a writing expense. Also, electricity runs the home, from heating and air conditioning to computer, and printer; your writing takes up a percentage of such monthly expenses. And don’t forget a percentage of your cellphone expense!

          As said, these are all suggestions, within common sense reason.

          I would not recommend, for example, claiming membership fees or monthly dues to a swingers club as a legitimate research expense. That might raise a few eyebrows at the IRS and then...oh boy!

          The reverse of the coin, of course, is to always account for any income from your writing, whether in the hundreds of dollars or $1.25.

          So remember, writing is also a business. For example, Schedule C (Form 1040) Profit or Loss From Business (Sole Proprietorship), can give an accurate figure of your profit or loss for the year. And on your Form 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, under Income, there is a place to record your profit or loss from the Schedule C. (Also remember, there is no one way to accomplish this; your tax accountant may have other, better ideas.)

          The business of writing can be a complicated subject, but if you do a Google search – keywords “deductible writing expenses” numerous websites will pop up offering advice and lists of what may or may not be deductible. The only website I feel comfortable mentioning is the IRS, “Deducting Business Expenses,” http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-%26-Self-Employed/Deducting-Business-Expenses . It is not the answer to all questions, but it is a start.

          Finally, remember again that I am not a professional; in order to file an accurate return be sure to consult a tax professional.

          Have fun, keep writing, and save your receipts!




About SS Hampton, Sr.

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America.

He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007).

His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology.

After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Melange Books

Musa Publishing

MuseItUp Publishing

Amazon.com Author Page

Amazon.com. UK Author Page

Goodreads Author Page




Sharing Rachel

 MuseItHot Publishing, forthcoming Spring 2014.

Blurb:

Burt and Rachel Markham are ordinary small business owners of a seed & feed store in a small Kansas farming and ranching community. Many years before, as young university graduates eagerly anticipating exciting overseas employment, a lifetime in Kansas was the furthest thing from their minds, particularly Rachel who was raised overseas and dreamed of going back.

By July 2013 their twin 18-year old daughters, having graduated high school several months before, go east to attend a university.

Burt and Rachel settle into their new life of an empty house and a predictable and unchanging routine that threatens to stretch far into the future. One summer evening Burt has an idea—but will Rachel accept the idea? If she does, will the idea add new excitement to their marriage, or destroy it?


Excerpt:

She stood and grasped his hand. “It’s a little windy out, but it looks like there’s only a slight drizzle. We won’t get too wet walking home.”

          Burt glanced at the steaming dancers again and smiled. “It’s been a long time since we walked in the rain.”

          “It has been,” she said and leaned against him.

          “I always liked walking in the rain. A light rain that is. A slight drizzle is better.” They stepped into the cool twilight. “Anyway, when your blouse is soaked your nipples really stand out.”

          “Oh God,” Rachel giggled. Silent lightning lit the wet road as if showing the way home.

          Burt slipped his arms around her, pulled her back against him, and kissed her cheek.

          “Hi,” he whispered in her ear. She responded with a little sigh and reached back to place her hands on his hips.

          It was their little signal to one another when in public—“Hi” was a hint that one or the other was horny. Burt and Rachel first began whispering the greeting to each other shortly after they became lovers in Flagstaff; now they also whispered the greeting when he slipped inside her or when she seated herself on him and they were looking into each other’s eyes.

          The storms passed and the humid summer heat returned. The feed store remained busy. The trains rumbled past Four Corners, past their home, as they had done for the past two decades. Burt always thought that the late night train whistle that echoed across the moonlit prairie was one of the loneliest sounds he ever heard.

          One night on their after dinner walk they passed by the dark school. Rachel paused and stared at the small wooden building. Twinkling fireflies floated through the schoolyard.

          “Are you going to volunteer this year?” he asked. Classes would start in a few days.

          She was silent for a few moments before shaking her head. “No. I enjoyed being a volunteer teacher’s aide, but with the girls gone…” Her voice trailed into silence. “It wouldn’t be the same.”

          Burt brushed her long hair away from her face. “What about soccer?”
          “They asked me and I said I’d help on special occasions, like the end of season awards banquet.” She folded her arms around herself as if she were cold, though a warm breeze blew across the moonlit prairie. “But otherwise, no.”

          “It wouldn’t be the same?”

          “Jah, jah,” she whispered.

          “Well, okay. I mean, there’s been a big change in our lives, but it doesn’t have to mean cutting most ties.”

          When they returned to the farmhouse Rachel announced she was going for a swim. She poured a glass of Sauvignon Blanc for herself and picked up a CD player. She usually listened to classical music, waltzes, and operas when floating in the pool. There was a chakra wind chime hanging near the pool for the times when she felt like floating in near silence except for the chimes and the sound of the prairie wind.

          A few moments later Burt followed with beer in hand. Maggie trotted behind him, rawhide bone in her jaws. Classical music floated through the night; fireflies played hide and seek among the neatly trimmed hedges along the perimeter of the yard. Others drifted in and out of the nearby cornfield, while the insects of the night droned on in disharmony.

          He saw Rachel drop a dark robe to her feet. In the silvery light of the moon her nude fleshy form had a ghostly white sheen to it. She glanced over her shoulder, flashed a lusty smile at him, and dove into the pool. He stood by the edge of the pool and watched her gliding beneath the sparkling moonlit water. Then she surfaced, rolled and floated on her back with closed eyes. A pair of fireflies circled above her face.

          It was the second time she was skinny dipping. It was like she was shedding the older, busy exterior of motherhood so that her younger carefree personality could reassert itself.

          He sipped his beer and watched her face with Bettie Page bangs plastered to her forehead, surrounded by a fan of long hair and the glimmering water. She looked so content.

          A thought was born.

          A surprising thought.

          A thought he never entertained before about his wife of 21 years—and the mother of his children. He walked unsteadily to a wooden chair with thick cushions and sat down heavily. He gulped his beer. A warm breeze flowed through the night; the trees rustled and the field of corn swayed like watery currents. Fireflies sailed past him.

          “Dammit,” Burt whispered to himself in disbelief…disbelief and excitement. And trepidation. What would her reaction be? What would she say? Could he even find a way to suggest it?

          “Burt?”

          He returned to the poolside. Her eyes were open. Moonlit water droplets on her beautiful face sparkled like tiny diamonds.

          The thought wouldn’t let go. It took root…


2 comments:

Kay Dee Royal said...

Stan, thanks so much for taking time to give us all some extra insights on taxes...there's a bit to it, and your list is pretty thorough to catch what we need to for our tax returns;)

sshamptonsenior said...

Kay Dee,

Hi! Glad that you liked the post. So, have fun this tax year! (And a profitable tax year, too.)

Stan