writing life

Taxes and Writers

My taxes are done and mailed. I had a pretty good year, which is a mixed blessing. It’s good to make more money than I expected, but then that means I had to pay more in taxes. Instead of getting a refund, I had to pay a bit more, and that means my estimated taxes for this year went up. That means doing your taxes is an emotional roller coaster. On the Schedule C you do for your business, it’s like “Wow, that’s more than I made in my best year at the day job, even when you factor in expenses!” Then you get to the Schedule SE for self-employment taxes, and then that means you net less than you made in the day job because self-employed people have to pay double the amount for Social Security, etc. Think about the amount that’s deducted from your paycheck, and double it. And then there’s income taxes, but at least you get to offset that with some deductions. I suspect I came out around the same as I did in my best year at my day job this year, but that was more than 17 years ago, and I would hope I’d have had a raise since then if I’d stayed in that career field.

Still, I feel like I’m better off because I’m doing what I love and answering to no one but myself, and it’s hard to put a dollar value on that.

But this sort of thing is why writers explode when readers complain about book prices or pirate books, or even have the gall to ask for free books. Most of us aren’t rich, and the fact that we’re doing what we love doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be paid for it.

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