Invest & Prosper: Investment #4—Your Tracking and Tax Systems

Christina KatzBy Christina Katz

Mamas, I know your life is very full and busy. So the last thing you probably want to spend time doing is a lot of picky, detail-oriented stuff like bookkeeping. But if you don’t get on top of your writing income and stay on top of it, then you are not running a business; you are dabbling in a hobby. And the IRS frowns on hobbyists posing as businesses.

So, ask yourself. Is it time to get serious about managing your writing-related money? Just say, “Yes.” It’s easier than you think, if you follow these three simple steps:

1. Get and follow quality financial advice. Have you considered hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to advise you on the latest changes in the tax laws and the best write-offs for you to take? That’s what writer mama Wendy Burt has always done. As for me, I prefer doing things myself. But I’m no accountant, so I use the Foolscap & Quill Writer’s Pocket Tax Guide by Darlene A. Cysper, Esq. Along with a tax preparation software program like Turbo Tax, which walks me through complicated deductions with ease, the two add up to an inexpensive, yet money-saving investment. And then I write both expenses off.

2. Keep everything until the end of the year, especially related to earnings and write-offs. This includes:
· Invoices, check stubs or photocopies of payments
· Receipts for the following: office supplies, office rent or home office expenses, office utilities, legal and professional fees, class and conference fees, postage and copying expenses, class and conference fees, computer and office equipment, software and books, subscriptions, dues, and annual fees, travel, meals, and entertainment expenses
· Also track: mileage driven for work

3. What to keep, so you don’t lose track of your professional progress. And be prepared to prove it, if necessary. These docs prove you are in business:
· Writing you submit, even if it’s not accepted for publication
· Copies of contracts, rejections and assignments

Finally, read this advice from Wendy Burt on how to plan for the long haul. The more you treat your writing career like a business, the more it will act like a business. Just try it and see for yourself!


Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, is working on her second book for Writer’s Digest Books, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform. She has also written over two hundred articles for magazines, newspapers, and online publications and has appeared on “Good Morning America.” Christina is a popular writing instructor who has taught hundreds of writers over the past seven years. She blogs daily at The Writer Mama Riffs and is publisher and editor of two zines, Writers on the Rise and The Writer Mama. More at


2 Responses to “Invest & Prosper: Investment #4—Your Tracking and Tax Systems”

  1. 1 Marjorie April 5, 2008 at 7:08 am

    Dear Christina,

    Good morning! I was wondering how other writers found their tax accountants/bookkeepers. Did you ask around? Does anyone work with a tax accountant remotely (i.e., long-distance)?

    Christina, do you think you’ll ever come to a point where you feel that you’ll need a tax accountant, or are you comfortable doing it yourself indefinitely? At what point do you think you’ll start considering a professional tax preparer?

    I’ve been doing mine for years, but my income has never been high enough for me to justify a professional. However, this year I really want to ramp up my earnings and am thinking that perhaps next year I might need to seek outside assistance.



  2. 2 The Writer Mama April 5, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    I would like to have someone else do them next year.

    I’d also like a personal assistant, a maid, and a cook! 🙂

    I would definitely ask for referrals.

    I don’t feel comfortable sending personal info long distance, though I know some folks do it.

    Good luck ramping up those earnings!

    🙂 C

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