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A Few More Tax Tips For Self-Employed Writers

Previously, meaghan gave a list of four major tax resources. Here she adds new resources and tips for writers.

In my last blog post, I covered a few of the basics about paying taxes as a self-employed writer. This is, admittedly, a very complex topic – and I am not a tax professional. Still, I wrote for Textbroker throughout almost all of 2009, made estimated payments along the way, filed my taxes and managed to emerged unscathed on the other side. Along the way, I picked up quite a few tips, tricks and pointers. Relating my exact experience to you is a bit pointless, since everyone’s situation is so different. Things like whether you’re filing a joint return or a single return, whether or not you have children, whether you work a regular job – and many other specifics – all have major impacts on how everything plays out.

Last time, I had to leave out a few other tidbits that I thought many of you would find useful; they include:

  • As a self-employed individual, you may be eligible for a health insurance deduction – and you don’t have to itemize your deductions to receive it. In fact, the amount appears on line 29 of the 1040 form, and more information about it can be found here and here. As I mentioned above, everyone’s situation is different; in my case, I pay for my own health insurance and was able to write off a percentage of my monthly premiums on line 29 for the year 2009.
  • In February 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This act included many important provisions, and one of them directly affects self-employed people. The provision in question is known as the Making Work Pay initiative, and it was designed to give a slight tax break to working Americans. People who work regular jobs – i.e., those whose employers file W-2 forms for them – might have noticed a slight spike in their take-home pay totaling around $30 extra per month. As a self-employed person, though, you don’t automatically “receive” that bonus. Since it totals $400 for 2009, most self-employed persons can take $100 off of their quarterly estimated tax payments. If you didn’t do that, you may have overpaid a bit through the year. Learn more about the Making Work Pay initiative here.
  • One of the first things that many people say to me when they find out that I am self-employed is, “I’ll be you’re getting pretty creative with writing off those business expenses,” or something to that effect. Writing off business expenses is a great way to lessen your tax burden, but you have to be cautious about it. If you buy a new computer and mostly use it to write for Textbroker, then you should be able to deduct it; a percentage of your Internet bill may be deductible, too. When in doubt, it’s generally best to check with a tax professional.

As mentioned on my previous post, I am not a tax professional and this is not tax advice. When in doubt, you should always contact a professional tax consultant.

That’s all I’ve got for today, folks. Just remember that the devil is often in the details – and so are many of the little things that can shave significant amounts of money off of your end-of-year tax bill. I hope April 15th treats all of you well!


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