I’ve made a New Year’s resolution, three months late. I resolve that this year I will faithfully keep all receipts related to my writing business and the promotion of my new novel “Ablaze,” in a folder clearly marked BUSINESS EXPENSES. I will note the miles that I drive to each writing conference and every Sisters in Crime or Mystery Writers meeting. I will keep the receipts for the lunches and dinners I eat at conferences. I will print all PayPal receipts for ads etc. and immediately file them in the above mentioned folder. I make these resolutions so that next year I will not spend two days frantically searching through my check book, old credit card statements, and all the papers waiting to be filed that were piled on top of my file cabinet and are now scattered all over the floor of my office.
There is a good reason for this. For the first time in several years, I actually have a gain rather than a loss on my tax return due to the modest success of my “Other Deadly Things” series, and I look forward to more of the same in 2014. I’m thrilled about this. At least I was until I thought about the tax man confiscating some of it. It’s not that I object to paying my fair share although to be absolutely truthful, my idea of fair share and the government’s may not coincide. Consequently, I want to be absolutely certain that I take all the deductions to which I’m entitled which may make up to some degree for the fact that, like many authors, I work for about a penny an hour. Yes, I know my writing is a labor of love and no one has forced me to do it. Still, it’s nice to be compensated. I could save some money by doing my own taxes but if just gathering all the stuff I need to send to my accountant makes me crazy, imagine how I’d be trying to use TurboTax. I employ an accountant, not because I’ve suddenly been propelled into one of those high tax brackets, but because I am mathematically challenged.
When I was in high school I had a Trigonometry teacher who one day called me up to his desk and asked where my sister went to college. “She goes to Cornell, Mr. Powers,” said I rather proudly. “You’ll never go there,” he replied, glowering at me over his wire rimmed glasses. That remark obviously stung because I still remember his name. (I didn’t apply to Cornell but I did get a rather good education at Carnegie Mellon. Not, however, in the business or engineering schools.)
I’m told that my fiancé’s father used to say he was happy to be in a position to pay taxes. In theory I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. In practice, however, I could have a problem. I have a feeling that when my accountant mails me my return, all of that good will is going to fly right out the window. And speaking of my fiancé who, by the way, does his own taxes but has not offered to do mine, I asked if he could think of an amusing story about taxes with which I could end this blog. All I got out of him was a curt, “Taxes aren’t funny.” Obviously we have a lot in common.
I can’t spend any more time writing this blog. I have to finish my taxes.
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