It’s been said before, and bears saying again: taxes will always come for you.
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
— Benjamin Franklin, 1789
Okay, so why am I using precious blog space to whine about doing my taxes? Only this (and please disregard if you don’t use the American tax system; god only knows how you do it, but probably it is equally dismal if perhaps less outlandish): if you are a self-published author, indeed any kind of independent artisan, producer, or seller of stuff, you need a special tax form, the 1099-MISC. (MISC, of course, stands for “miscellaneous income.”)
And, to no one’s surprise, this little form is both depressing and a pain in the ass. You have to file it specially. It doesn’t fit into nice little boxes like a W-2. No free tax preparation program will do it for you; you have to shell out.
Being an upright citizen, I do try to declare all my income. Which in the case of my books is pitifully little, especially as the 1099-MISC gleefully has you list all business expenses (Internet, paper, shipping, whatnot) and – naturally – expenses come out way above profits. According to my tax man, this means writing is officially my “hobby,” and not a business. I could have told them that without the numbers the the hassle.
Still have to declare it, though, according to the IRS.
As I was sifting through Amazon’s seven-or-so different 1099-MISC forms (one for each country of sale… couldn’t they put that all together? Come on, what else are huge multinational corporations good for?!), I was feeling grouchy and wondering if it’s all worth it. I write because I love writing, and of course there is no small amount of satisfaction in getting reader feedback, honing and improving my craft, and – yes – I do get that delightful happy tingle when someone picks and purchases one of my books, among all the wonderful choices out there.
But doing taxes is so awful. Maybe my friend Sexscribbler has the right idea… should we just set it all free?
I’d love other authors’ tax stories, tips, and/or woes. What do you all think about this crazy, wonderful hobby/business?