Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Overkeep Receipts


Happy tax day yesterday! (Or at least to everyone in the states. Or was it tax day in other countries? I have no clue.) Anyway, speaking of doing your taxes, I have a little advice I'd like to share that falls into the "Don't do what I did" category.

Do you aspire to one day get paid for your book(s)? Then listen up.

Start saving your receipts NOW.

There are a ton of things that you may be able to write off as a business expense once you start to earn money for your books. AND HERE'S THE THING: You can go back to expenses for previous years. So let's say your eventual book deal is three years down the road. Then three years down the road, when you figure your taxes, you can claim expenses you incurred right now. (Here's the fine print. I am NOT a tax professional, and you should definitely consult your tax professional on all of this.)

Me-- I knew this! I just figured that I'd remember which conferences I went to, and I'd go through Amazon's history for the rest. Yeah. That isn't working out for me so well. I wish I had kept a manilla folder at my desk, and stuck every single writing-related receipt in it over the past four years. I have a LOT of work ahead of me this year because I didn't. DON'T TO WHAT I DID. Whatever point you are at right now, start over-keeping your receipts.

Here's some things to keep:
(Again, consult your tax professional.)

  • Conference Tuition (along with any extras, like pitch sessions, manuscript critiques, intensives, boot camps, etc.)
  • Mileage to conferences (or plane tickets, car rental, etc.)
  • Food purchased while at conferences
  • Books (not just books on craft; any that give you ideas / inspire your writing)
  • Computer / laptop
  • Internet (because of such an importance placed on social media, and also for research purposes)
  • Subscriptions (to writing magazines, Publisher's Marketplace, etc.)
  • Printing supplies (if you have to print out pages for revising, or for critiquing the work of others)
  • Mileage to meet as a writing group
  • Software used for writing
  • If you hire an editor / consultant
  • If you pay someone to design your blog
  • If you pay someone to design your book cover
  • Home office expenses (including a portion of utilities)

Seriously, stick all this stuff in an envelope and keep it. And stick all email receipts in their own folder in your email. You might save a few receipts you won't be able to use. But that's better than finding out there were things you could've used that you didn't save receipts for. The point is-- it is so much better to OVERKEEP your receipts than to underkeep them! Trust me.

If you think of any items I missed, please mention them in the comments, and I'll add them to this list. And if you're already earning money for your writing, tell us what has worked (or hasn't worked ;)) for you!

27 comments:

Delia said...

Good advice! I've only just started saving receipts (I don't make any money at this yet), and I hadn't thought of some of these.

S. L. Hennessy said...

Seriously? I had no idea you could do that. Awesome advice!

Annalisa Crawford said...

Great advice. I've known all this since before my first acceptance, and was also able to use it for when Hubby started singing professionally - it's amazing how much you can claim if you think logically, including a percentage of electric/gas bills etc if you work from home (UK info, I don't know about US)

Maggie McGee said...

First, I love cookies. Second, thanks for the reminder on keeping receipts. I have the receipts, I had forgotten why I was keeping them!

Faith E. Hough said...

I keep all my receipts because it keeps up the positive thinking. :) Also I keep a calendar of everything writing-related as proof I have been actively pursuing it for this long.

J. A. Bennett said...

oh man! I'm already way behind the times! I better get crackin'!

Patti said...

I've thought about it in the past, but thought it might be too optimistic and stopped. Maybe I'll start again this year.

Angela Cothran said...

I have a very tax savvy hubby. I've been deducting writing for a year or two :)

Tasha Seegmiller said...

Hmmm...I just never thought about this. And my husband is a small business owner, so he does this all the time. Great great advice.

Jay Noel said...

You rock! This is so incredible, as I was thinking about this exact topic when I was writing a check made out to the US Treasury...

For example, I just purchased a couple things to use as giveaways once my book comes out in July.

And I'm paying to have a logo to use for shirts and stuff to promote it. My publisher is a small press, and if they were to do it, they'd find someone more expensive and then charge me against my commissions.

Is there a minimum amount of income that has to be made until you can start deducting such business expenses?

Clarissa Draper said...

I hate keeping things because I hate clutter but because my husband owns a company, I learned that keeping receipts and such is very important.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I really never thought of this. I will start doing it. Thanks for the advice and good luck.

Emily R. King said...

Wonderful advice!
My husband is a receipt hound, so I stash my receipts in a folder for him to inventory. I'm lucky he does it for me because I doubt it would get done otherwise.

Carrie Butler said...

Great advice, Pegasus! :)

Jarm Del Boccio said...

Peggy...what a timely post...I will definitely keep this for the future. Enjoy the remainder of the Challenge...


MakingTheWriteConnections

David P. King said...

My dad was talking to me about this the other day. He's an accountant. So, yeah. Spot on advice, Peggy! :)

Krista McLaughlin said...

I'm not very good at keep receipts, but I will now! Thanks for the advice, Peggy!

The Golden Eagle said...

I didn't know you could do that. Thanks for the advice!


The Golden Eagle
The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

Daisy Carter said...

Excellent post - had no idea all these things were business expenses! Can I add my starbucks habit? ;)

E.D. said...

In general, you are right - great list! There are always some limitations, though (I am a tax professional).

Lauren S. said...

I hadn't thought of that! Great post. I'll have to keep an eye on what I buy from now on...

Leigh Covington said...

Holy CRAPOLY! No WAY! Okay - I just bought a new computer. I'm getting that manilla envelope and starting NOW! So glad you shared. WOW! That's amazing!

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Really good advice! It wasn't tax day here in Malaysia!

This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

Duncan In Kuantan

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I would also add professional memberships - like the Authors Guild, SCBWI, Children's Literature Network - they can add up!

Valerie Hartman said...

Great advice -- might even serve as a reminder that we are WORKING. Timely reminders, thanks.

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi Peggy, great advice.

Beth Christopher said...

So funny to read this advice, as my husband has been insisting we write off writing expenses for these past few years. I always argue with him, as I haven't published a bloody thing, but it turns out, he was right! Thanks for sharing.