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Editor's Notes #27, September 30, 2005 -- Capitalizing On A Vacation
September 30, 2005

"The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business."
-- John Steinbeck

In this issue:

1. What I Did On My Summer Vacation
How To Capitalize On A Vacation


What I Did On My Summer Vacation

As promised last month, here is a brief bit about my vacation with ideas about tax deductions.

My parents both talked about cruising up the inside passage to Alaska. Then my dad died.

My mom talked about making the trip with my grandmother. Then my grandmother died.

Neighbors went on two Alaskan cruises and raved about the experience.

What could I do? I booked a cruise for my mother and me in late August. Even before I paid for the tickets I was trying to figure out a way to make the cruise -- at least my portion of it -- a tax deduction. Sometimes what is right under my nose is the most difficult thing to see.

The book that made me realize that I needed a Web site is still in the writing stage. See my own Writing Goals for 2005. I have information on glaciers in that book. Well, there are one or two glaciers in southeast Alaska. One of our shore excursions was a helicopter ride over four glaciers with landings on two of them, and a dog sled ride on one. I figured the dog sled ride would be worth at least one article somewhere. Big smile on my face.

Of course southeast Alaska is one rainy foggy place and the day we were in Juneau, the glacier flight we had booked was grounded due to fog. We did other tourist things, including hunt down native Alaskans, a rare breed in the cruise ports -- the people waiting on us were from the lower 48 and as far away as Belarus. We managed to find another helicopter flight out of a different airport, but couldn't do the dog sled ride.

I loved the landings on the glaciers and got firsthand information that may inform the glacier page in my alphabet book. I was sad to have missed the dog sled ride. Every dog we ever owned when I was a child had at least one go at being tied to a wagon or sleigh. Never mind that most sat with quizzical looks until freed from whatever ropes we had used to tie them up. Besides, that was the part of the trip that I wanted to write about, making it the most easily identified tax claim.

I'm still mulling over how I can legitimately use the trip as a deduction. As I've been typing this, I've considered that since I'm using this as the basis of the advice I'm about to give below, the whole thing might still make it onto my expenses page. Even though you don't pay for this newsletter, as part of my Web site, it is part of my business. The smile is tickling the corners of my mouth.

I don't like surprises and I loathe unpleasant ones, so I have always been scrupulous about my tax deductions.

I also bend over to pick up pennies on the ground, so I use every possible business expense.

I'm glad that I had excellent financial advice when I began my literary career. Many writers assume that an artist must have a measurable income from her art in order to claim tax deductions for the practice of that art. Not so. Every jurisdiction I know of allows a reasonable time -- often three or four years -- from the first deduction to the time the artist shows a profit.

What governments need is evidence that the artist is trying to earn money.

As soon as I got the notion that my writing could earn me money, I started collecting receipts. I also saw an accountant. I got the best one I could find locally. Not only is he fully accredited, but he is easy to talk to and the people in his office are helpful. I can ask any questions I want and get good answers. They even set up my first spreadsheet page for me so it would meet their needs.

I'll write more about accountants another time.

For now, I want to encourage you to save your receipts if you aren't already doing so.

Here is a list of what you may be able to claim. Note please that

  1. I am not an accountant and this is not legal advice.
  2. Every jurisdiction has its own rules. Check with local writers' organizations or tax experts for information that applies where you live.

Here's my own list of things I claim or plan to claim when the opportunity arises.

  • paper and envelopes
  • pens, pencils, erasers, paper clips, etc.
  • computer and printer and supplies
  • repairs to computer and printer
  • office furniture
  • fees for services -- includes editing and your accountant's fees
  • memberships that relate to your writing
  • insurance on your equipment and supplies
  • postage and delivery costs
  • telephone -- at least the long distance fees related to your writing and maybe more depending on your situation
  • travel related to income
  • meals while traveling related to income
  • autombile expenses -- keep a log
  • research -- books, magazines, newspapers
  • courses related to writing
  • rent or a portion of your housing expenses -- check for the details in your jurisdiction
  • advertising
  • wardrobe -- only if something special is required for a TV appearance for example. I can't wait to use this one!

If you aren't already recording your expenses, start today.

If you are, use some of your writerly creativity to add to the things you currently claim. And if you plan a holiday, do what you can to write off at least part of it.

I'll be wracking my brain for more ways to write about my cruise so I can claim it.


If there are topics you want me to write about, hit the reply button and let me know.


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