Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Friday, January 17, 2014

Death and Taxes

Well, I really don’t want to talk about death, although I am in the process of being an executor for a friend’s estate who passed away a few months ago, and trust me – death does not alleviate one’s obligation to pay taxes.

I do want to remind everyone out there that it is tax time and with that all writers need to be aware of their tax profile and/or footprint.  Regardless your status as a writer – published/unpublished, traditionally published/self-published – at a minimum you have record-keeping requirements.  I say this because I meet so many writers who are yet to be published who do not keep track of their expenses or time spent in pursuing their writing.  They say that they aspire to be published some day but for now they are just trying to finish their first novel.

This is all well and good but when a writer does become published or just simply receives any kind of compensation for their writing - whether it’s a novel, a blog, a newsletter, reduction in fees for presenting at a conference, etc. – there can be tax consequences for the writer.

There tend to be two major challenges for most writers starting out and the first is determining if their writing is a hobby or a business; and the second is if the writer wants to be considered a business, when to start that business and how to reflect that on the writer’s income tax return.

I am a big fan of encouraging all writers to keep detailed records of all expenses and activities related to their writing even if they are yet to be published.  I’m also a fan of all writers setting aside time for tax planning, again regardless of their publishing status, because when a writer is finally published, or receives a contract to be published, there are all kinds of tax consequences and options that become available to the writer whether they consider themselves a hobby or a business.

So, to get started on at least the record-keeping aspect of taxes, writers should visit the Internal Revenue Service site at and review the following IRS Publications, Forms and Instructions:

            - Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Businesses
            - Publication 535, Business Expenses
            - Publication 538, Accounting Periods and Methods
            - Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records
            - Form 1040 (Schedule C)
            - Inst 1040 (Schedule C)


  1. I just got my W2s from work today...definitely time to start thinking taxes. I always say I'm going to get them done in January once I have everything, but it's usually late February before I get to them.

  2. I already did the Illinois sales tax form and payment due by the 20th of this month. Soon I'll be tackling the 2013 taxes. I always say I'm going to keep track each month, but every year I end up going through the pile put aside and sorting and listing, etc. I'm just not organized by nature!

    Morgan Mandel