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NO You Can’t Write That Off! Why You Need an Accountant and a Grip on Reality

NO You Can’t Write That Off

We are all familiar with the old adage that it takes money to make money, but it can also be said that you have to make money to save money.

Right? I said that just now. Let’s all commit that to memory.

Anyway, truth is, not everything can be written off.

Not by a long shot.

Nope, Don’t Write That Off

I remember once when I was watching an HGTV remodeling show, these two women were excited about all the things they could write off for their new house remodeling business. They spent thousands on things they figured would somehow end up being free. The host of the show reminded them that you only get to write off a percentage of what you spend, so it doesn’t end up being free. Likewise, they needed to make money on the sale of the house in order to write their expenses off.

Spoiler alert: They didn’t.

Would it be wrong of me to say I thought it was kinda funny?

It’s the same thing with being a freelance writer. If you only make three thousand dollars your first year of business, don’t go crazy with wanting to try and write off a new computer, iPad, office furniture and a “research trip to Fiji.”

A lot of people also get into trouble with their car. If you use your car for work, then you can write off the miles you drive, but you don’t just get to guess at the end of the year. You have to keep a super long and boring book of all the miles you travel for work, which must be accurate in case you’re audited. Most people don’t have the discipline to do that.

I sure as hell don’t.

Most people can write off their uniform or required work attire. If you have to wear specific things for specific events, this might happen, but usually us work-from-homers are stuck with our clothing as a personal expense.

When I asked my husband-accountant if I could write off the fuzzy footy-pajamas I wear when I work from home, all I got was a sardonic eyebrow raise. Shucks.

Get a Damn Accountant

That brings me to my next point. You need an accountant to let you know what you can and can’t write off. For example, if you’re a travel writer and someone is paying you to write about the best beaches in the world, then yes … yes, you can write off Fiji.

Also, give me your client’s name. I need a vacation.

Good News? You CAN Write That Off!

You’ll be stoked to hear that there are probably a lot of things you can write off and didn’t know about. This includes:

  • Office supplies
  • Magazines and publications
  • Books
  • Coffee dates with writing friends
  • Increases in internet or cell phone data plans (not the whole plan, just the increase)
  • Conferences
  • Writing-related apps

Other, closely related items may not make the cut, though. For instance, if you’re alone you can’t write off coffee at a café even if you’re working the whole time. Nor can you write off books that have nothing to do with your business. If you’re not sure about an expense, always ask.

Bottom line? Being your own boss is hard, but maneuvering the tax world by yourself is harder. Get someone in your corner, even if it’s just for an hour or two for some good advice to start you on your journey.

Oh, and guess what? Meeting with your accountant is a tax write-off! Woot!

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