Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Can You Deduct a Speeding Ticket as a Writing Expense?
Or…The Dragon answers your burning authorial tax questions

I’m not really going to answer a lot of tax questions here. April 15 is not my favorite day of the year for the simple reason that it stresses me out and typically sees me writing big ol’ checks to the Federal government and the state of Missouri. Here’s the part where visitors to the blog start to care.

On my way up to Pensacola the other weekend for the GCCRW Silken Sands Conference, I drove like a banshee. I’m not a patient person. At one point, while keeping up with traffic, I sat pretty much on the tail of a slowpoke in the left lane in hopes of encouraging him/her to move over or speed up. (Behind me, another driver did the same.)

Now, I have a fantastic car. A 2008 Dodge Charger. Check that gorgeous picture!

The front end looks like it’s snarling in your rear view mirror. It’s solid. It has that “move over or I’ll push you out of the way” look to it. But not everyone responds. (I’ll be investing in a push guard when my tax refund arrives.)

While sitting on this guy’s bumper, I let my thoughts drift or something, because I looked in my rear view mirror to see a police vehicle on my tail.

Doggone.

I figured I better move over. I also wondered who he was pursuing if the six or seven of us driving aggressively at 80+ mph in a pack weren’t of interest to him. I recently read an article that claimed cops are lowering their tolerance for speeders due to the recession. The supposed 8 to 10 miles over the speed limit that drivers can typically get away with when roaring past a speed trap is ratcheting down, according to the report.

I don’t recall the article offering a “safe” speeding range. If you ask an officer of the law, I’m sure he or she will tell you no speed over the posted limits is “safe.” (The limits are set for a reason. It’s not arbitrary.) The idea is that more written tickets for more speeders means more revenue for the counties in which the law-breakin’ takes place. There were statistics to back it up. And I have to say, considering crime is up and driving is down (both due to the recession), having the number of citations awarded in a county during the month of January triple in 2010 compared to 2009 says something for the officers’ focus.

As luck would have it, the officer tailing the little pack in which I sped along I-75 North a couple weeks ago hadn’t received the memo and I made it to the conference sans citation. Woo-hoo!

The mileage I incurred driving to the conference and the hotel cost while there will be tax deductions when working on my 2010 taxes because the “book writing business” is a business and not a hobby. As a writer, if you can prove that your business is just that, you can write off your expenses. But if your writing is still a hobby, don’t try to pull a fast one on the IRS. Can you say “audit?”

I went to H&R Block for my taxation worries this year. This is the second year that I’ve had mega fear about taxes. The year before the divorce was the first of “abject fear” because of someone else’s lapses in judgment/recall pertaining to deductions and responses. I ended up filing separately that year rather than relying on the Innocent Spouse Rule to protect me in the future. This year I felt the need to claim book income, even though Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings didn’t take me to the Federal income level required before reporting it (bummer, eh?) because my expenses were fairly substantial and I anticipate some changes in the coming months.

So there’s the quick-n-messy taxation discussion for this writer: a tax preparer who’s got my back helped me file a Schedule S form with my schtuff this year. I’m even getting a little something back from the Feds, which I’ll use to pay off a hospital bill. And I don’t have speeding tickets to try to find a spot on the Schedule S for.

“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”
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2 Comments:

Blogger M Pax said...

I'm still making negative income, too. A friend on their third book claims she finally broke even. :D

3:38 PM  
Blogger Laura M. Crawford said...

Once again, Sandy, you're singing my song! Other than a few small things I did this year to count as writing "income", I did get a Fed. Tax ID number since my biz is registered with the State of Minnesota to make it all legit. My refund is paying bills I incurred while insane on OTC cold medicine and an accidental OD on my meds mixed with a killer migraine.

I'm only just a little bit crazy now. :)

And I used Turbo Tax because my work schedule as a temp has been so fickle I knew I wouldn't have time to make an appointment nor the funds to pay someone to do them. Maybe this year we will be worrying about where to invest our royalties, instead of wondering if we will have enough to buy food. :)

And, yes, I'm a lead foot, too. My Hubby called me Dale,Jr. once. :)

Be careful out there!

Laura ;)

12:28 AM  

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