No, really, it is. When you’re a writer, it’s always tax time. Why? Because so many things you do or buy qualify as deductions. But you have to keep track of them.
Mileage when you drive downtown for some research is a deduction. Any and all travel expenses (hotel, food, mileage, airfare) to and from writing-related trips such as conventions, conferences, and research trips are deductions. Do you have an area of your house or apartment that’s used only as an office? You can deduct that. New office supplies are deductions. Bought a new computer, pad, or smart phone that you use in any way for your writing? Deduction! Find a lovely new print to hang on your office wall? Deduction! Did you put a new roof on your house, the house with a home office in it? The part of that roof that covers your office is a deduction! A percentage of your electricity, heat, and water are a deduction. Are you a member of any writers organizations? The dues are a deduction.
(Caveat: I am not accountant or a tax attorney.)
But you have to keep track of it all. That’s why it’s ALWAYS tax time.
I used to keep all my receipts in a set of folders labeled “travel” “food” “research” “dues” and so on, and it always took three or more hours of painful adding to get everything together in February. (I do my taxes early.)
Then I finally realized I had this little computer I carried with me everywhere. Wasn’t there an app that would do all this for me as I went? Why yes–there was. I did a little research into apps that kept track of expenses, chose one that looked like it would work best for me, and started the habit of using it.
The app, incidentally, lets me take and store photos of receipts. The IRS has allowed electronic pictures and copies of receipts for a long, long time, which saves on storage space! And I can print them from e-storage if the IRS gets really picky and demands a paper copy.
At any rate, whenever I run up against a deductible expense, I enter into my app and photograph the receipt on the spot. Done! At the end of the tax year, the app totals up all the categories for me and I have everything I need for taxes.
Because it’s always tax time.
–Steven Harper Piziks