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Write. Then Write Off: Common Tax Deductions for Writers

Top 10 Tax Deductions for Self-Employed Writers
Accounting and TaxesMarch 01, 2023

Plot twists. Gripping dialogue. Page-turning suspense. Writers of all kinds can appreciate a good read. Unfortunately, tax paperwork doesn’t deliver on that front. But we’re here to help you navigate self-employed taxes—without the confusion. 

As a taxpayer, deductions reduce your taxable income, so the more deductions you have, the less tax you’ll pay. And as a self-employed writer, there are some specific deductions you can make for your business.

Use a separate business bank account like Found can help you keep track of your expenses and copies of your receipts to simplify tax time. 

Here are the 10 most common deductions for writers.

1. Your Office

Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, if you work from home or use a portion of a room exclusively for writing, you’ll likely qualify for the home office deduction

First, calculate the square footage of the space you use for work as a percentage of your home’s total square footage. Next, deduct this percentage of your mortgage or rent, utilities, and other home expenses. If you own your home, you may also qualify for a depreciation deduction. Remember that purchases that are just for your home office—a rug or lamp, for example—are often fully deductible.

If you rent an office or co-working space for writing, the entire cost is typically deductible.

2. Equipment, Supplies, and Software

Equipment like computers, printers, monitors, and office furniture that you buy for your writing business is usually deductible the year you buy it. Supplies like paper, envelopes and stamps can also be fully deductible. Softwares like Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, or Google Drive, as well as accounting software or paid apps you use to keep track of your expenses may also be deductible.

However, if you use an item both for business and personal use, remember to only deduct the business percentage of use. For example, if you use your computer 50% of the time for your writing business and 50% of the time on other things, deduct only 50% of the cost.

3. Marketing

As a writer, you need to build your business. Everything you spend to market your writing business is typically deductible, like the cost of creating and maintaining a website, using a professional LinkedIn subscription, running ads, or paying a publicist.

4. Subscriptions

If you use the internet for research and marketing related to your work, you can generally deduct the business portion of your internet subscription fees. It's a good idea to keep records of your internet usage for business purposes, such as keeping track of your working hours to ensure that you can accurately calculate your deduction at tax time. 

Reading up on writing? If you’re doing it for business purposes, you can generally write off your subscriptions to online and print publications, including magazines, journals, Substacks, newsletters, and blogs.

5. Agent

 Some writers have a literary agent—a professional who represents writers and authors in the publishing industry. In exchange for their services, literary agents typically receive a percentage of a writer’s earnings from book sales, usually around 15%. Fee structures differ, but an agent's fee is often deducted from the author's earnings before the author receives their share. If you have a literary agent, you can usually deduct all the fees associated with that service.

6. Outsourcing

If you hire people to help with your writing business, you can usually deduct the cost as a business expense. This includes fees for researchers, editors, designers, or proofreaders. Remember to keep accurate records of all payments made to contractors or employees, including their names, contact information, and payment amounts, to ensure that you can provide this information to the IRS if necessary.

7. Education

Staying ahead of the curve and sharpening your skills can help build your business. You can likely deduct the cost of taking a class or attending writing conferences, seminars, webinars, and similar events that help you maintain your writing skills and network. Remember to only deduct the expenses related to the educational portion of the event, not any additional travel, lodging, or meal expenses incurred during the trip. And, as always, keep records of the expenditure. 

8. Legal and Professional Services

As a writer, running a successful writing business often involves seeking professional advice and services. You can usually deduct fees that you pay to attorneys, accountants, consultants, social media managers, and other professionals for work related to your writing business.

9. Insurance

If you’re paying for your own medical or dental insurance, you can usually deduct 100% of your premiums from your self-employed income taxes. There are a few caveats, however: This deduction can’t exceed the annual profit you earn from your business. And if you or your spouse were eligible to participate in an employer’s health plan for any part of the year, you can’t usually deduct the premiums from those months.

On top of that, if you have a home office, you can typically deduct a portion of your homeowner's insurance. See the Your Office section above on how to calculate your office space as a percentage of your home. 

10. Travel

Travel you do for your writing business is typically deductible. This includes daily travel like driving to see a client, and overnight travel. For overnight trips, you can often deduct your airfare or other travel costs, hotel, and 50% of your meal expenses. 

If you use your car to travel, you can generally deduct your car-related expenses in one of two ways: by actual expenses method or standard mileage rate method. There are some intricacies of which method you choose, so it’s worth doing a bit of research to find out which one is best for you. 

In short, with the actual expenses method, you keep track of how much you spend on gas and other auto costs. You calculate the percentage of time you use your car for business, and deduct that percentage of your auto expenses. With the standard mileage method, you can deduct 65.5 cents for every business mile in 2023.  

You can reduce your taxable income and save money on taxes by tracking your business expenses and claiming deductions come tax season. Remember, tax laws can be complicated, so if you have questions, it’s always a good idea to consult with a tax professional to ensure that you are taking advantage of all the available deductions and complying with tax laws. 

With careful planning and record-keeping, you can minimize your tax liability and keep more of your hard-earned money. If you really want to get your taxes under control, give Found a try and take the guesswork out of taxes. Found’s tax tools help you run your business with newfound clarity and ease. No more toggling between costly apps; sign up for free.

The information on this website is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on, for tax advice.

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