Monday’s Friend: Stan Hampton, Sr

I am pleased to welcome back to the blog Stan Hampton Sr, who today is giving tips on how writers should be keeping track of expenses for tax claims, whether you are a full time writer or one with another income.

Do You Know What Time It Is?
By Stan Hampton, Sr

Belated Happy New Year and Pre-Valentine’s Day!

StanAnyway, no, this is not about the time of day or night. This is about the time of the year that faces almost everyone. Tax season!

First and foremost, I am not a tax professional. For advice and tips, consult a tax professional. Let me repeat – for advice and tips, consult a tax professional.

Broadly speaking, most of us cannot support ourselves through writing advances and royalties. Yet. Our income comes from elsewhere. Now, on tax forms your income is where your writing income or (loss) is applied (as recorded on your Schedule C (Form 1040*), Profit or Loss From Business.) [*US tax claims] This gives your total income. After that comes adjustments to your income resulting in your Adjusted Gross Income. And of course, after that, comes all of the various taxes and credits with the end result of your either owing the government or the government owes you a refund.

So, like most of us you work at another job until your literary ship finally comes in.

But along the way to the harbor I suggest you keep track of your expenses that you can add up and claim as income or (loss) at the end of the tax year.

First, establish a spreadsheet with cumulative cost columns.

Did you buy a desk or a pair of folding tables to equip a room or a corner of your house or apartment to work at? Did you buy a computer for your writing? Did you buy additional literary or graphics software? How about a printer? What about inkjet cartridges and printing paper? Stapler, staple remover, staples, paper clips, binder clips, pens, pencils, file folders, and pads of paper? What about filing cabinets to store your research and drafts? Or 3-ring binders, with 3-hole punch? Maybe you make backup CD copies rather than keep paper copies. Dozens of blank CDs or even a separate storage device costs money.

There is even a provision that if you dedicate a portion of your home or apartment to your writing, you can claim a percentage of rent or mortgage, even insurance as writing expenses. If you use the Internet for research and communications, and you use your telephone in support of you writing, you can claim a percentage of the monthly bill for those too.

Speaking of research, if you go to the local library and Xerox pages out of books that are relevant to your writing, that costs money. It costs money if you buy books or even magazines with specific articles, to add to a research library. What if your writing takes place in an exotic location, such as belly dancing in Egypt. How familiar are you with belly dance music? Can you describe it? Suppose you want to become familiar with a type of music from a specific era, such as swing music from the 1940s. The cost of music CDs, in my humble opinion, counts as research—but do not go overboard.

So what if you attend book signings at libraries, book stores, coffee shops, book fairs, or even speak to a grade school or college class? Having bookmarks and business cards to hand out, for example, costs money.

If the host does not provide tables, you might have to buy a folding table to bring with you. Having business cards, banners, and bookmarks designed and printed costs money, even if you accomplish those at home. If you want to get more creative, you can personalize mouse pads, coffee mugs, note paper, and a thousand and one other things. As an aside, I suggest you get photographs of you and your table at public venues. It is further proof of your expenses.

And if you have to travel out of town for such events, even if you combine your travel with visiting friends and family, a percentage of your travel, food, and room cost can be counted as expenses.

I am sure that by now you are developing a good idea of how to approach the expense of writing in relation to income taxes.

More experienced writers will have additional helpful suggestions. Some may suggest that you incorporate and have business checking accounts separate from your personal accounts.

But no matter what—remember to CONSULT A TAX PROFESSIONAL when you set out to record your expenses in preparation for the tax year. Professional advice, even if you have to pay for it (not all of us have tax preparers in the family), is worth the money to avoid potential pitfalls.

In closing, I wish you much writing success this year. And remember to have fun!

AUTHOR BIO:

Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. 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 Nevada 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) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

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.

In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint).

After 13 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 April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran, though he is still struggling to get back on his feet.

sharing rachelHampton can be found at:

Dark Opus Press: https://www.createspace.com/3685965

Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing: http://www.edgewebsite.com/books/dansemacabre/dansemacabre.html

Musa Publishing: http://www.musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=50

MuseItUp Publishing: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museitup/mainstream/better-than-a-rabbit-s-foot-detail

Amazon.com Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ

Amazon.com. UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/SS-Hampton-Sr/e/B00BJ9EVKQ

Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6888342.S_S_Hampton_Sr_

 

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