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« Michael Mourns | Main | Finding time to write (even if you have kids) »
Wednesday
Mar012006

Tax tips for freelance writers

I love many aspects of freelance writing. One aspect I'm not particularly crazy about, however, is the administrative paperwork involved, especially around tax time.



I do whatever I can to make it more pleasant: play my favourite music in the background, use nice pens and special paperclips (I'm an office supply addict), reward myself when I've finished. Yes, of course there's the obvious reward of getting the paperwork finished, but I also like to reward myself with something more tangible...like a single chocolate truffle from our local chocolatier, for example. :-) I welcome tips from you super-organized writers out there!



Anyway, this time I decided to make it more interesting by surfing the Web for tax tips specifically for freelance writers and writing about it in this column. Sadly for me, the focus is mainly U.S..



Here are some of the resources I thought looked useful (all refer to U.S. tax laws unless noted):



Handling Writing Income And Expenses by Moira Allen. From Writing-World.com. A great article on how to keep organized throughout the year to make it easier around tax-time as well as tips on tax prep.


Tax time confusion for freelancers


Tax Answers For Freelance Writers by Jessica Ramirez. This three-part article answers questions like: "What are the most common mistakes new freelance writers make when they file their taxes for the first time?", "What kind of records should a writer get together for filing taxes?", "How does a writer decide what to write off as an expense? In other words, what's acceptable?", "What if freelance writing is a part-time position and a freelancer has a full-time job? How will that influence a tax return?" and "Should a freelancer pay someone else to do their taxes or should they use tax software? What's the difference?"



Freelance Factor: Tax Tips For Freelance Writers: About half a dozen articles by Julian Block. "Profit Vs. Pleasure: IRS Rules Strict on Losses", "Estimated Taxes: Another Deadline Coming Up", "Filing Time Reminders for Freelancers", "Better Tax Breaks for Freelancers", "Award Winning Writers, Artists and Photographers are Losers Under the Tax Laws" and "How Long to Keep Records."



Taxes for the Writer Abroad by Nancy Arrowsmith. From Writing-World.com. Tips on how to avoid double taxation and how to avoid paying taxes in Europe.



Tax Tips For Writers by Daniel Steven. Part of AbsoluteWrite.com. Somewhat outdated (mentions changes specific to 2002) but still has useful tips that still apply to all freelance writers.



Tax Tips For Writers by Bob Brooke. This focuses more on record-keeping tips throughout the year.



Taxes and Freelancing by William Perez. The article is for freelancers in general, but it does mention special circumstances that apply to freelance writers.



Tips for Freelance Writers: Filing Taxes by Katharine Swan. Be sure to check out Katharine's blog for other useful tips for writers.



Writer's Pocket Tax Guide by Darlene Cypser is available in paper or electronic format.



Tips for Canadian freelance writers


I was still unable to find much online specifically for Canadian writers except for the following:


Finances For Freelancers: Notes taken at an evening seminar of the Toronto Chapter of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada (PWAC).



If you know of other useful resources, please do let me know!



Reader feedback for "Finding Time To Write"



Do check out Angela Giles Klocke's blog for writers, submissions/rejections tracker and other useful resources on her site including her free e-book: WRITE TODAY! Balancing Writing WITH Parenting.



Deborah Ng suggests getting a laptop: "I write more now that I stopped using my old, behemoth computer. Many times my son wants company, not necessarily a playmate. The laptop allows me to be in the same room or area. On nice days I can bring the laptop on the deck and work while he plays outside, I take it with me to the inlaws and work while he's being spoiled. Now that I've perfected the art of finding time to write, I need to learn how to take time for me!"



Katharine Swan agrees: "I've been writing on laptops since the best used machine you could get was a 286…the old processors, not pentiums! My newest baby is an Averatec that is so small it's - no joke - smaller than a piece of paper, and weighs only about three pounds. AND it gets this small without sacrificing any of the normal stuff that laptops have! (Except the gigantor screen, that is.) A little, portable laptop like this one is a writer's best friend!"



Tina Chaulk responded to a reader's question about the Alphasmart as an alternative to a laptop: "I absolutely recommend the Alphasmart. I got a new Neo recently and since it has almost no working parts and no Internet access (means no crashes and no LJ friends or other Internet diversions), and lasts for asbout 700 hours on 3 AA batteries, I have been writing everywhere with the little thing. My son plays nearby and I bang away on the keyboard."



Mew liked one of the small comics I included with my last column: "I just think I should tell you that I printed out a little copy of the 'LJ friends list' cartoon and have laminated it to my laptop next to the touchpad. You cruel woman. :-)"



Mindy appreciated reading others' comments: "Reading these contributions from the other parents I no longer feel isolated. I have twin boys just turned 5 years old. It is nearly impossible to write with them around, but, this has inspired me to make a concerted effort to make the time. I am very new at the online process of writing and reading, but when writing a story for children it puts me in a place called Heaven. Now the reality, getting published. Oh the process."


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