Manage my business

10 big-ticket tax deductions for writers

Are you a self-employed scribe? Though it may not always seem like it when you’re crouched over a keyboard cranking out content, your words can be worth their weight in gold if you know which tax deductions to claim.

Keep reading for a list of ten unmissable tax deductions for writers.

Self-employment tax

Being a self-employed writer makes you eligible for the self-employment tax deduction. Your eligibility means you can reduce your taxable income by the employer-equivalent portion (i.e., half) of your self-employment taxes.

The self-employment tax includes both Social Security and Medicare tax. For example, paying $1,000 in self-employment tax would reduce your income subject to tax by $500. Reducing your taxable income lowers your overall tax liability.

Office space

Enjoying casual Friday every day isn’t the only perk of being a work-from-home wordsmith. You can also deduct the costs of your home office in one of two ways.

You can deduct a certain dollar amount per square foot of your office up to a specified square footage through the simplified method. Or, you can deduct a percentage of the real costs of the home office through the traditional manner.

Equipment

From a personal computer to a desk, you’ll have to fork over a pretty penny on office equipment for your writing business. You can offset these expenditures by depreciating them – that is, deducting the costs in a single year or over a period of years.

Health insurance

It might not cure your writer’s block, but getting health insurance is a must for penmen and women of all ages. Fortunately, self-employed writers can deduct 100 percent of the premiums they pay for medical, dental and vision insurance.

Hired help

Ernest Hemingway once said, “The only kind of writing is rewriting.” If you are fortunate enough to have the resources to hire in-house or contract editors or proofreaders to aid in the rewriting process, you can deduct their wages. You can also reduce your income by any tax-deductible hiring expenses, from recruitment to job fair expenses.

Man with dog writing in journal at table in the back of camper van at lakeside

Travel

Whether for an out-of-town interview or an out-of-country content conference, freelance journalists, travel writers, and other wayfaring wordsmiths must go wherever their assignment takes them. You can deduct the business-related costs of travel, such as transportation and lodging expenses.

Meals

Did you pick up the tab for a solo lunch during a business conference or a dinner with an interviewee? Business-related meals are eligible for a 50 percent deduction. Keep in mind that the conversation should revolve primarily around business for the meal to qualify as a business meal. So, steer clear of writing off those long lunches in which you catch up with your old writing buddies.

Software

Thanks to software like Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat Pro, and other must-have software for professional freelancers, writers no longer have to burn the midnight oil on a typewriter. But being heavily reliant on software can also put a dent in your wallet. Don’t forget to deduct the costs of business software come tax time.

Conferences

The American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference are but a few of the most well-attended writing conferences in the country. Hefty conference fees can offset the gains you make in writing and networking skills. But you can help offset these costs by deducting the expenses of business conferences that help you hone your craft.

Vehicle expenses

Whether traveling to a publisher’s office or making an office supply run, be sure to keep track of the business-related mileage you put on your car with a mileage-tracking app so you can take a mileage deduction. You can deduct the actual vehicle expenses you incur or claim a deduction based on the IRS standard mileage rate.

About the author

Manasa Reddigari

Manasa Reddigari has tackled topics ranging from computer software to home remodeling in her more-than-a-decade-long career as a writer and editor. During her stint as a scribe, she's been featured by MileIQ, Trulia, and other leading digital properties. Connect with her on copyhabit.com to find out what she's been writing about lately.

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The Growth Center does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.