Last night, the hubs and I met with a CPA for the first time. Ever. And I have to say, this CPA made me feel more like an author than I ever had before. :)
At first we had gotten the referral to my CPA because we bought a house in December. But then I thought about my writing expenses for 2012. I took 4 online Lawson's Writing Academy courses, traveled to Colorado for an Immersion Master Class, bought tons of craft writing, books, and on, and on, and on we go. Still though, we thought, and thought, and thought about whether or not to start filing those expenses.
Questions start going through mind like, "Is it worth going ahead and claiming those expenses? Will the IRS tie me a particular timeline? As in, if I don't get a publishing contract within the next few years, will they throw me in jail for these expenses?" *bites nails and shudders*
The answers are: Yes, it is worth claiming those expenses from this journey to publication! And no, the IRS isn't going to throw me in jail if I don't start showing a profit within the next few years! WOO HOO! Can't tell you how much better I feel now that I know that. Whew!
So this post is my plea to all writers out there: No matter where you are in your writing journey, if you're serious about writing - as in you will be published, and nobody's gonna hold you down from your publishing dreams - then do your homework and meet with a CPA in your area!
I never imagined that there would be a CPA in my area who would know the tax laws for authors inside and out. And why in the world would I've even though that? I mean, I know my insurance/healthcare/analytic stuff for my dayjob, and I take severe pride in it, so why wouldn't anyone else, right? Duh! So yeah, I was a bit naïve in thinking that this lady may not know everything, so I was wary going into the appointment, and had ensured that I'd done my homework so that I wouldn't look like a total idiot. :)
But when I left, I held my shoulders back, my chest high, and it was like a chorus of angels were singing "Hallelujah!" in the background.
For the last year I've been calling myself an author. I've spent time, money, blood, sweat and tears on this dream. So yeah, I'm an author. And I don't have to published to call myself that either. Because it's the attitude and the hard work that define me. But never, I'm telling you never, have I ever felt more like an author as when I walked out of that office. Okay, I digress...I always feel like an awesome writer when I get kudos within the comments from my Beta Readers. :)
This lady told me straight up (and I'm paraphrasing here): "Are you spending money on this serious, professional venture? Are you educating yourself to become a better, stronger, more competitive writer, and spending the money to do so? Then yes, you're an author, you fall under that category (vs. claiming writing as a 'hobby'), and you should begin filing now."
So, again, whether you're just starting on this journey to publication, or if you've been on it for a while, seriously consider taking the time and spending the money on a CPA. Navigating the tax laws of our country is never any fun. And come on, can you honestly say that you've been able to read all those laws, rules and regulations and fully understand them? Can you stake a possible audit on it?
Me neither. Which is I went for help, and I was pleasantly surprised and delighted with the guidance, advice, and results of the consultation.
Your turn: Do you have a CPA or Accountant prepare your tax return? If so, what made you take that route? If not, why? Are you not ready to take that leap? Or are you not where you feel you need to be to start telling the IRS that you're an author? Please share! Times like these are when the advice is needed and welcomed from our writing community. :)
Stay tuned because next week I'm going to post a list of items that my CPA advised as tax-deductible for an author.