It might be worth noting these on a calendar or something for late March or so. After all, this is a bit early to think about tax deductions for some people. There are a surprisingly high number of deductions that freelance writers are eligible for, though most just take the standard deduction and get a move on. However, itemized tax deductions can save you money.
- Your website costs: Just about all of them, from hosting to design to the annual fee you pay for your domain, are deductible.* If you’ve been hemming and hawing about shelling out the cash for yourname.com, this is just another reason that it’s more than worth it.
- Your internet and phone bills: Most of us writers rely on our cell phones for those long distance interviews and the internet for a huge chunk of our research. It’s a cost of doing business, and you can write it off when you prepare your tax returns.
- Computer-related expenses: If you buy a new computer, or even a new mouse, that is intended as a work machine for your freelancing career, keep the receipts. You can write it off too. The same goes for software, like word processors or bookkeeping programs.
- Postage: I go through stamps like water. I don’t keep track of every stamp I mail out, but a fair chunk of them get stuck to queries, invoices and other business-related mail. If you’re the same way, you can offset the rising cost of postage by deducting it on your taxes.
- Books, magazines and other ‘research’ materials: As long as it’s related to a business project, you can write it off. Magazines that you plan to query fall into this category and, arguably, so does fiction in your genre. I’d watch out if you decide to write off genre materials. You may need to be able to show the IRS a published clip from that genre.
- All of your office supplies: From Post-it notes to printer paper, it’s deductible.
- Conference fees and travel expenses: Writing conferences are easy to write off. You can even write off fan conventions if you are able to sell any of your materials there — especially to an editor.
- Your desk and chair: Office furniture falls under office supplies in a round about way. It’s still tax deductible.
- Professional advice: If you needed to see a lawyer about something fishy in a contract, you can write that off come April. Ditto advice on your taxes from a CPA or other tax professional.
- Home office: This deduction can be a bit tricky. You can only claim it if you are using a room solely for business — so if you have a desk in your bedroom, you can’t take it. But it can be a big help if you can claim it.
Now, I am by no means a licensed professional, so do yourself a favor and consider a little professional tax preparation help. In other words, I’m issuing a disclaimer that I cannot give tax advice over the internet with little to no knowledge of your actual tax situation.
* I swear to high heaven, it seems like the word should be spelled ‘deductable’, but spell check says I’m wrong.