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Tax and Tax Information - Income Tax

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Tax and Tax Information * Income Tax

Tax Tips for Writers and Authors   
Stephen L. Nelson, CPA

Sometimes, another writer, upon learning that I'm both a book author and tax accountant, asks me for the best ways that authors can minimize their income taxes.


If I can, I try to weasel my way out of the discussion, offering up such basic tidbits as, "Well, be sure to look at the home office deduction." And "do use a basic accounting program like Quicken or Microsoft Money so you capture all of your writing business expenses."

Article to continue below----------------------------------------------

N.Y.âs Paterson Shuns Wall Street Stock Transfer Tax (Update2) (BusinessWeek)
New York Governor David Paterson, facing at least a $9 billion budget deficit, rejected a call for a stock transfer tax on Wall Street.

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Usually, those simplistic answers work. Usually, after dolling out such drivel, the guy waunders off to get another drink and more appetizers.


Everyone once in a while, though, I encounter some writer who's really motivated to save on taxes. Usually, someone now making good money writing... When I can't deflect their questions in some other way, I tell them about the three best ways that authors have to save on taxes.

Article to continue below----------------------------------------------

N.Y.âs Paterson Shuns Wall Street Stock Transfer Tax (Update2) (BusinessWeek)
New York Governor David Paterson, facing at least a $9 billion budget deficit, rejected a call for a stock transfer tax on Wall Street.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------


Technique #1: Smooth Your Income


Whatever you think of the US Internal Revenue Code, you need to know that it's quite progressive. That progressivity means the more you make, the more you pay. The progressivity also means that if your income fluctuates, your income taxes go up even if you make the same money on average as someone else makes whose income is steady.


To give you an example of this, suppose that you compare two writers, John and Jane. If John makes a steady $60,000 a year and has a mortgage, a spouse and couple of kids, he might pay about $1000 over four years (net of tax credits such as for children.)


In comparison, suppose that Jane averages $60,000 a year, but sees her income fluctuate between $30,000 a year and $90,000 a year. She still makes $60,000 a year on average. Yet if she also has a spouse, two kids and a mortgage, she'll probably pay $8,000 to $10,000 in taxes over those same four years.


Please note that over the same four years, then, the two writers make the same amount of money: $240,000. But what they pay in taxes differs radically. Jane pays eight to ten times what John pays! Yikes!


What can Jane do? Well, let's bring this back to the example of working writers. Jane can probably rather easily smooth her income. She can make sure that she's not stacking two big advances in the same year. She can spread out advance payments over two or more years. She can even try to stuff more of her expenses into the good years. In the good years, for example, she can buy new computers, take those graduate classes, or top off her pension.


Technique #2: Setup an LLC and Elect S Corporation Status


I've written and talked much about how S corporations save taxpayers money and how the right way to set up an S corporation is first create a limited liability company and then ask the IRS to treat the LLC as an S corporation for tax purposes.


Let me review the basics here again, however. Suppose that you're making $90,000 a year as a writer or author. If you just treat your writing business as a sole proprietorship, you might pay $12,000 in income taxes on the $90,000 and then another 15.3% self-employment tax, or roughly $13,500, on the $90,000.


If you set up an LLC and have the LLC treated as an S corporation, you'll still pay the same $12,000 in income taxes. But you'll only pay the 15.3% self-employment tax on that portion of the profit that you categorize as wages. If you categorize, say, $30,000 of the profits as wages, you'll pay $4,500 in self-employment taxes. (The other $60,000 in remaining profits, by the way, gets paid out as a dividend-like "distribution.")


Using these example numbers, then, you would save about $9,000 a year in employment taxes by using an S corporation.


Two quick points about S corporations: First, S corporations require some extra tax and accounting so you don't get to spend all of your savings. Some of the savings go to the lawyer, the accountant, and the bank. Second, you absolutely must set your salary to a reasonable level.


Technique #3: Relocate Your Residency


One final, easy planning gambit. Remember that there are states like Alaska, Florida, Nevada, Texas and Washington that don't charge residents state income taxes. Accordingly, if you relocate to one of these states, you'll automatically drop your overall tax bill because you won't have state income taxes.


One of the benefits of writing is that you do get to live wherever you want. Why not choose a place that doesn't tax your writing income?


But a caution: Do be careful that you don't get blindsided by the other taxes a state levies. For example, Washington state where I live charges a four-tenths of a percent excise tax on royalty income. This is still a lot lower tax rate than high tax states like California or New York charge writers. Which maybe explains why during the technology boom in the 1990s many computer book writers making high six figure and low seven figure incomes moved to the Seattle area.


Washington State LLC formation expert Stephen L. Nelson CPA has written more than 150 books. Formerly an adjunct tax professor at Golden Gate University, Nelson is also the author of Quicken for Dummies. Copyright 2006 by Stephen L. Nelson and http://www.llcsexplained.com

What Other Authors say about Taxes

Being Careful To Choose Legal Tax Shelters by Carl LaFresnaye

There are some types of corporations that try to find loopholes in the tax laws that allow them to get out of paying such high taxes. There are some companies that look for tax shelters, which are ways...

Knowing The Benefits And Burdens Under Federal Income Tax Principles by Carl LaFresnaye

There are many different benefits and also burdens that individuals can have under federal income tax principals. It is important for individuals to consult some sort of professional advice when doing...

The Principles On Paying Tax by Teguh Budimulia

Why Tax Loop Holes Must ExistA long long time a go, in a country far far away, in China to be exact, there was a hunter that put nets in 4 sides of the forest. The hunter wanted to catch all animals. Then...

Low-Income Luxury - Your Guide to the Many Affordable Apartments for Rent in Utah by Heather McKinley-Seymour

Apartments for rent in UtahOften the first thing one does when searching for a home to rent is assess their income. For many Utahans with large families, liabilities or low wages, this can seemingly be...

Getting The Biggest Benefit From Tax Help by Stephen Kreutzer

Taxes are a way of American life. They are own duty to pay and file. Many people go in search of someone to help them when tax time rolls around. Tax help seems to be in abundance from January 1st to April...

Tax Planning - Pay Only What Is Due To Uncle Sam by Cornie Herring

"In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes", wrote Benjamin Fanklin in 1789. If we taking care of our health and be safety conscious, we may be able to outwit death until we are very...

Child Tax Credit by Tony Robinson

Now, here's a real savings to the individual taxpayer with children. The child tax credit is a direct tax credit that is available to provide credit to taxpayers with income below certain established levels....


Who are the CPA Moms?      Your Tax Professional Forever!!!!

“CPA Moms - Tax Moms - EA Moms" are trade names given to Accounting and Tax Professionals who chose to work in an “relaxed” environment. Some "Moms" work from home, other work from personal offices. Not all are Moms, there are some Dads. We call them Mr. Tax Moms. CPA Dads or Enrolled Agents Dads.
Each Mom is independent. Once a client starts working with a Mom, the client will keep the same “Mom” year after year regardless of where the client moves or relocates. Being in a “relaxed” environment has many advantages. Lower overhead, faster response time, more availability, etc.
To be a member a CPA Mom, Tax Moms, or an Erolled Moms the Tax Professional must ALWAYS be in good standing with their state licensing agency, experienced, and must demonstrate a high level of ethics, professionalism and proficiency.
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Since the “Moms” do taxes and accounting of all complexities, there is always a Mom available for every level of work. Since each Mom has a private 800 number, you are just a phone call away, regardless of where you live.
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Index of Articles about Taxes

What Other Authors say about Taxes

Being Careful To Choose Legal Tax Shelters by Carl LaFresnaye

There are some types of corporations that try to find loopholes in the tax laws that allow them to get out of paying such high taxes. There are some companies that look for tax shelters, which are ways...

Knowing The Benefits And Burdens Under Federal Income Tax Principles by Carl LaFresnaye

There are many different benefits and also burdens that individuals can have under federal income tax principals. It is important for individuals to consult some sort of professional advice when doing...

The Principles On Paying Tax by Teguh Budimulia

Why Tax Loop Holes Must ExistA long long time a go, in a country far far away, in China to be exact, there was a hunter that put nets in 4 sides of the forest. The hunter wanted to catch all animals. Then...

Low-Income Luxury - Your Guide to the Many Affordable Apartments for Rent in Utah by Heather McKinley-Seymour

Apartments for rent in UtahOften the first thing one does when searching for a home to rent is assess their income. For many Utahans with large families, liabilities or low wages, this can seemingly be...

Getting The Biggest Benefit From Tax Help by Stephen Kreutzer

Taxes are a way of American life. They are own duty to pay and file. Many people go in search of someone to help them when tax time rolls around. Tax help seems to be in abundance from January 1st to April...

Tax Planning - Pay Only What Is Due To Uncle Sam by Cornie Herring

"In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes", wrote Benjamin Fanklin in 1789. If we taking care of our health and be safety conscious, we may be able to outwit death until we are very...

Child Tax Credit by Tony Robinson

Now, here's a real savings to the individual taxpayer with children. The child tax credit is a direct tax credit that is available to provide credit to taxpayers with income below certain established levels....