Saturday, February 03, 2007

Finished doing my taxes today. It is always odd to have to consider, for IRS purposes, whether the poetry thing I do is a "profession" (meaning the income counts as self-employment) or just a "hobby." Though one hardly makes much money with poetry, I resent it being the primary measure by which it might be declared a "hobby." And not one of the most important things in my life.

Off to Whidbey Island today with a very good friend, to visit a dear old friend and teacher, and bring her a copy of the new book. I am sure she will be tickled pink to see it.


C. Dale said...

I just did the first run of my taxes today, too! I have claimed poetry as a profession and filed a schedule C for it for the past 4 years. Why? You get to deduct travel costs for readings, lodging for readings, conferences, etc. You get to deduct Poets and Writers as a trade journal, your registration fee for AWP, the cost of postage, the cost of paper and laser printer cartridges, etc. You get to deduct the cost of your author photo, and the cost of a web site devoted to your poetry (not a blog). So, this cuts my income from poetry/editing down and saves me from having to pay a ridiculous amount. I hope to God you are claiming poetry as a profession. Otherwise, your royalties, your reading/speaker's fees, your honarariums from publishing, etc. all just get btacked on to your gross income from medicine, which WILL cause you to pay MORE in taxes! We need to talk if you are not stating poetry as a profession. By tax codes, the fact you have books and receive royalties validates it as a profession, regardless of how much money you make at it. If audited, just presenting the books is enough to justify you are a poet/writer.

Collin said...

I'm with C. Dale. I claim writing as my profession and deduct everything related to it concerning both my day job and poetry. I'm even getting to write off part of the trip to the UK last fall since I went over for the publication of the anthology I edited.

Peter said...

Hi Guys: Oh yes. I've been claiming all that stuff for several years now.
It's just interesting to read what the definition of "hobby" is according to the IRS. How it is all about the money.

"Hobby Loss: Loss from a hobby or other activity you do not pursue for profit. You cannot claim expenses from a hobby that exceed the amount of your income that you report. If you fail to show a profit for three out of five years, the IRS may presume your business is a hobby and disallow losses from it unless you show evidence to the contrary."

Some people (myself included) make no significant money, or lose money, on their poetry, in a given year. But I still would not label poetry a "hobby." I'm not sure what "evidence to the contrary" would be (oh--nice poem title). I agree with C Dale: perhaps books and magazine pubs and such would be enough proof.