Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Everything you probably never needed to know about taxes

Writers, like most other self-employed workers, experience the joy of multiple tax forms. The IRS actually explains everything for free—there's a form and/or a publication to answer every question. The trouble is that the explanations often involve exceptions piled on exceptions, and many times you must fill out one form with information obtained by performing a calculation on an entirely different form (or worksheet, or schedule, to use their precise terminology). Often, the instructions send you off to look at several other IRS publications, each explaining a different aspect of the situation.

I’m not at all math-phobic, but after a while it all runs together and begins to look like this:

“Report the income from line 45A on line 77, unless the amount on 45A is less than the amount on line 53, in which case report the lesser of the amount on line 53 or line 61A, unless you are a sole proprietor born on a Wednesday, in which case consult Publication 4574387 to calculate the amount to report on line 77. However, if you are left-handed and own more than one but no fewer than four marmots, consult Publication 56897586 to calculate the amount on line 77, unless you also received mining royalties in a year ending with a 3.”

And this is why accountants were created.

Disclaimer/warning: I am not a tax professional. (As if you couldn't tell.)

If the above discussion of the business side of writing has left you hungry for more craft talk, let me refer you to
Josh Berk's post on how to write a romance novel. Although I'll warn you right now: it is even sillier than my tax talk.

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