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Writing is Taxing

 

 

Ten Tax Tips for
Travel Expenses

Summer is on its way, and many writers have planned to take trips that relate in one way or another to their writing business. Perhaps you’ll travel to a writers’ conference or readers’ event, or maybe you’ll take a trip for research purposes to investigate a setting for a story. Keep these tax tips in mind to make sure you take the full deduction you’re entitled to and that you don’t claim expenses that are ineligible.

Tip #1: A dual-purpose trip is only partly deductible.

If you take a trip that is primarily personal, such as a family trip to the beach, the expenses of traveling to the vacation site would be non-deductible. However, if you take a side trip that relates to your writing business, the expenses specifically related to that side trip are deductible.

For example, let’s say you tour a ship or submarine that is docked at a nearby beach because you plan to write a historical novel featuring pirates or a military-themed novel featuring a submarine captain. In such a case, the costs of traveling from your vacation spot to the ship or submarine and the costs of the tour would be deductible. You could also deduct 50% of the cost of meals during the time of the travel to and from the dock or during the tour if it is necessary for you to stop and rest during that time period.

The opposite is also true. If you take a trip that is primarily for business purposes, you can deduct your travel costs to and from the business site. You cannot deduct costs related to personal side trips you take, however, or extra lodging and meals costs incurred if you stay at the locale before or after the business days for personal enjoyment and general sightseeing.

Tip #2: Keep your clothes clean.

While the cost of laundry and dry cleaning are not normally deductible when you are at home, the cost of laundry and dry cleaning while you are on a business trip are deductible.

Tip #3: Maximize your meals deduction.

You have the option of deducting 50% of your actual meals cost while traveling, or you can deduct half of the daily meals and incidental expenses rate (“M&IE” rate) published by the General Services Administration for the locale. If you tend to favor more upscale restaurants, your actual expenses will likely give you a higher deduction. But if you tend to eat cheap, the government rate could give you a higher deduction. You can find the M&IE rates online here: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104877

Be aware, however, that while self-employed persons can use the GSA rate to determine the deductible meals expenses, you cannot use the GSA per diem rate for your lodging expenses. You must use actual lodging expenses in determining your deduction. In addition, your first and last travel days are pro-rated as noted on the “breakdown” link below each locale’s detail on the GSA site.

Tip #4: Call me, maybe.

Don’t forget that business-related phone calls are deductible.

Tip #5: Have fun!

Entertainment expenses are 50% deductible if you engage in business before, during, or after the entertainment. For example, if you take a trip to New York for a writers’ conference and attend a Broadway show with other writers with whom you have discussed writing business during that day, you can deduct half of    

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