You tracked your expenses throughout the year, you gathered all your receipts, and you recorded your royalty income. Now you're ready to send your spreadsheet and copies of everything to your tax preparer. But wait. There is one other important step you can take. This step doesn't take much time to complete and it is worth it in more ways than one.
All you have to do is add a text box at the bottom of your spreadsheet, if there's room, or add another page to your tax record, if there's not room. For me, this text description is part of my record that I turn in to my accountant and I consider it invaluable.
What goes in the text box?
Add brief descriptions of writing-related activities and accomplishments for the year. Brief and relevant are key in this step. It requires you go through your calendar, month by month, to refresh your memory, and total up some of the items. I know your calendar includes literary events you participated in such as: author appearances and readings, submissions to publishers; classes you taught, book publication dates, awards you won, lists you made, and so on. I also make note of income sources. These are the kinds of things to add in your text box.
Here's an example of my paragraph:
ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS YEAR: Appeared in 2 print and 2 online publications. Self-published one novella ebook. Started my own press. Entered 3 poetry contests. Submitted 1 new book proposal. Professional workshop speaker for CWC, LGSR & AFP. Participated in two guest author talks and signings. Participated in several poetry/fiction readings in Los Gatos, San Jose, Cupertino, and Saratoga. Participated in Poet Laureate Poetry Podcast Project. INCOME THIS YEAR: from royalties paid by publishers Montlake, Amazon KDP, McGraw-Hill, and Distributor Robertson Publishing, and workshops and speaking fees.
As you can see, there's nothing earth shattering. Just the day-in and day-out of being a professional writer.
I've kept track of my accomplishments for several years now and each year I can see how productive I've been. Some years I can say my work was a finalist in a contest or that I won an award. And other years I can show income from an advance paid by a publisher.
If you're ever audited, the IRS will be interested in the spreadsheet, your receipts, and official proof of income and expenses. This additional notation of your accomplishments provides context, jogs your memory of your literary activities and projects. It can help you answer questions. Will you remember how you were pursuing a professional writing career, what specific efforts you made to publish, or the results of all your expenses three or four years from now? I know I wouldn't remember unless I kept this annual notation—which I know won't get lost because it is with my tax documents.
At the least, you'll have a cool ongoing record of your endeavors that only took you minutes to note each year. Since you are noting your activities on your calendar anyway all year long, just tally them up at tax time like any other tax item. The effort is worth it.
Victoria M. Johnson knew by the time she was ten that she wanted to be a writer. She loves telling stories and she's happiest when creating new characters and new plots. Avalon Books and Montlake Romance published Victoria's fiction debut, The Doctor’s Dilemma, (A 2012 Bookseller’s Best double finalist). Her other fiction book is a collection of romance short stories titled, The Substitute Bride and a novella, Hot Hawaiian Christmas. She is also the writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries. Visit Victoria's website at http://VictoriaMJohnson.com for inspiration and tips and find her Amazon author page or connect with her on Pinterest and Twitter.