He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

22 Tax Deductions for Writers

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Writers, as a group, are usually bad at taxes. That’s because we’re not numbers people.

But you’ve got to get better at your taxes, because it’s costing you a fortune. Writers pay about 30% of their income for taxes. And that’s after an agent takes 15%, or after several publications don’t pay you for freelance articles, so it’s really hurting your bottom line.

It’s easy to focus on playing offense as a writer: trying desperately to find ways to earn money. But don’t forget to play defense! Every deduction you take reduces your expenses by a significant amount and puts money in your pocket. 

Below are the most common expenses that writers have the opportunity to claim, and whether it’s okay to deduct them.

1. Can I deduct my coffee/tea at my favorite writing cafe?

Sorry, but no. Unless you’re meeting with another writer, food and drink isn’t considered a deductible business expense. Here was my logic: I’m not really paying for the drink, I’m paying for a seat to write in. But sadly, this logic does not square with the squares at the IRS.

2. Can I deduct my Netflix?

Most of the time, yes. Especially if you write fiction. Especially, especially if you write, or are planning to write, a screenplay. Think about it: every single thing on Netflix is a story. You are a storyteller. This is a slam dunk.

Personally, I’ve never watched something on Netflix and not learned something about story, about dialogue, about scenes, about editing. To me, nothing could be more essential for my writing business.

If your kids watch cartoons on Netflix, though, you might only be able to deduct part of the Netflix fee, since technically others are using the service too, and those are non-deductible expenses. Check with your tax man on this partial deduction.

3. Can I deduct food and wine bought for my writing group or book club?

You can deduct 50% for entertaining expenses, as long as the primary purpose of the gathering is writing. Book clubs count because you’re discussing literature the whole time.

What I do is use a separate credit card and a separate bank account and pay for the party food separately at the grocery store. That way Uncle Sam can see that I’m not lumping all my groceries into this party expenses, only the food and drink I’m using for that one night.

4. Can I deduct my website?

Yes, deduct your:

  • Domain name
  • Hosting Fees
  • WordPress Themes
  • Anything you pay a graphic designer or programmer
  • The caricature of yourself you bought on Fiverr for $30 and which you use as a profile picture because you’re embarrassed to use a selfie

5. Can I deduct my magazine and newspaper subscriptions?

Absolutely. Anything that you pay for that has words, you should deduct. Not just your writing magazines like Poets and Writers and Writers Monthly, but also your Women’s Health and GQ and Sunset and Popular Mechanics.


One, you’re learning when you’re reading, learning about language and sentences and structure. Two, if you freelance at all, you’re doing market research by reading the magazine. So deduct every single magazine that you subscribe to.

And if you said: “Ha! Who subscribes to newspapers any more?” Well, anybody who actually believes journalism has a role in a democracy. If you’re not supporting fellow writers with your wallet, you are crippling our country, your fellow writers, and the field of journalism. Sorry (not sorry!) for the guilt trip. Please subscribe.

6. Can I deduct my home office?

Everyone is scared to deduct a home office. They think it’ll be a red flag and they’ll be audited. But that’s largely a bygone myth from the 90s, back when small office rules were being abused. You should deduct that small office if you use it for writing, and just do it properly.

You can deduct the room if it is devoted solely to your writing (e.g., it’s not a playroom that you have a desk in). Here is official IRS language: “using the space as your principal place of business or for some other acceptable purpose and using the space regularly and exclusively for business.”

Plus, in 2013 the IRS offered a newer, simpler way to deduct home offices. Here is the golden rule: You get $5 of deductions for every square foot of office space. For instance, my office is 140 square feet (yes, I had to pull out a measuring tape). That means I get a $700 deduction.

7. Can I deduct furniture?

Yes! If you buy an office chair, deduct that. If you buy a desk, deduct it. If you buy a desk lamp, deduct it. If you buy a scorpion inside amber to sit on your desk and inspire you to think of ingenious ways a serial murderer can kill people, deduct that.

Anything you buy for your home office, deduct it.

8. Can I deduct a new computer?

Yes, but only to the degree that you use it for writing.

For instance, if you use your computer 70% of the time to browse social media, and 30% to write, then you might not be able to deduct the full cost of your computer. Talk to your tax accountant and see what is the most that you can deduct if you buy a new computer.

9. Can I deduct my submission fees?

Absolutely. All those $3 electronic fees for submitting to journals, and all those $20 fees for contest submissions, those go straight into your Excel spread sheet (or however you choose to record all your expenditures).

10. Can I deduct my miles?

This is one of the biggest categories that writers miss out on. Get Miles IQ on your phone, and track every trip that you make that’s writing related. Going to Barnes & Noble, going to a used bookstore, going to your book club, going to your writer’s group, going to the post office, going to a conference, going to the coffee shop to write, going to a meeting, etc, etc, etc. If it is related at all to writing, deduct those miles pronto.

You can deduct 54 cents a mile in 2016. And guess what? I would have estimated about 200 or 300 miles driven for writing in a given year, but when I started keeping track, I was up around 1200. That’s almost $700 dollars in deductions right there.

11. Can I deduct my software?

Um, yes. The best software I ever bought for writing was not writing software, but it made me write 5x as much.

It’s called Freedom, and it blocks the internet for certain chunks of time (say, when you write from 9:00 – 12:00) and it also can block certain websites (I’m looking at you, Facebook!) to prevent you from wasting time. Of course, if you are a black belt master at self-control, then you don’t need this. Which basically means, all the human beings who are still reading this should buy Freedom.

If you pay to maintain a mailing list (EVERY WRITER NEEDS A MAILING LIST), then deduct the fees you pay to Mailchimp or wherever.

12. Can I deduct writing research trips?

If the primary purpose of your trip is to do research for a book, and if it’s not a cleverly disguised family vacation, then yes, you can deduct any trip you do for the purposes of research.

If only part of the trip is for writing research, then you deduct just that part, and just for yourself (if you’re traveling with others).

13. Can I deduct things that I buy for writing research?

This is a broad category, but let’s say you’re writing about boardgames. As in, your entire novel concerns a character who loves boardgames and creates boardgames. Yet you don’t know much about boardgames other than Monopoly and Clue. Well, you have to educate yourself in order to do your job as a writer. So buy a bunch of boardgames and write it off as research. Just be prepared to show the IRS the manuscript that includes the boardgame character!

Of course you can write off all books that you buy, because all books are research for writers.

14. Can I deduct job-hunting costs?

Yes, absolutely. If you spend any kind of money looking for freelance writing jobs, or for an agent, or for an editor, you can deduct that.

15. Can I deduct childcare from my writing business income?

No, you can’t. There’s something even better! It’s not a deduction, it’s a tax credit! A tax credit gives you money back in your pocket, while a deduction just saves you about 30% of the money you would have paid in taxes.

So if you have kids in preschool or with a nanny, you can get a hefty tax credit from that money from the money you earn as a writer, usually between 20% and 35%. But don’t go overboard — the maximum amount you can claim is $6,000 for up to 2 children.

16. Can I deduct my Social Security taxes?

Bet you hadn’t thought of this one. So those who are self-employed have to pay double the amount of SS tax and Medicare tax that employees of a corporation do, because if you’re employee, you pay half and the company pays half, but if you’re self-employed you have to pay both halves.

But here’s the great thing. You can deduct the second half that you pay! Isn’t that nifty?

Just beware: this is not technically a business expense but a personal expense, so you have to deduct it elsewhere. Still, in the end it’s money saved.

17. Can I deduct bank fees?

Yes! If you get charged for a cancelled check or for taking money out of an ATM, you can deduct that money. If you’re paying for a bank account (poor you — please do yourself a favor and find a credit union), you can also deduct those fees.

18. Can I deduct deductions I didn’t take from last year?

Absolutely. Think about this scenario: say you had a bad year. You hardly earned any money. In fact, your expenses were far great than your earnings, so you didn’t take them all, because you didn’t want the IRS to look on you suspiciously. But the following year was a bonanza. The floodgates opened and showered you with $$$. You wrote a ton of freelance articles, or you published a book. Hallelujah!

Well, now you do what’s called a “Carryover.” You take business expenses from last year and roll them into this year. Bingo! Less taxes to pay.

19. Can I deduct what I pay an accountant?

Yes, you can deduct whatever you pay someone to do your taxes.

20. Can I deduct conference/writing retreat expenses?

Deduct everything! Deduct your hotel room, your airplane trip, your parking fees, and even 50% of your food costs, including tips. When you’re away from home in a different city, the IRS allows you to deduct everything that is business related.

21. My shoulders/arms/butt are sore from doing so much writing. Can I deduct a massage?

If it is medically necessary. Get a note from your doctor and you are good to go. Just make sure you claim the massage is directly related to tension that comes from your work.

This belongs to the category of “medical expenses.” Anything to do with weight loss programs fits into this category as well. So yes, you can deduct that Shakeology or protein powder or Jenny Craig.

22. Can I deduct all the marketing I do for my books?

If you’re giving away free copies of your book for promotional purposes, you can deduct that! If you’re paying a publicist, or paying for an ISBN, or paying someone to build you an author website, that’s all deductible.

Here are handy tips to keep your files in order:

1. Keep a record of your expenses.

I use Excel spreadsheet because it’s easy. If you have a credit card you use exclusively for Business, that’s an easy way to keep everything organized. Just pick a credit card without a monthly fee. I use Chase Ink Business Cash card.

2. Use Evernote to record all your receipts.

Any physical receipt that you have, take a picture using Evernote and then throw away the receipt. Bingo! No stack of useless paper lying around. Everything is now electronic. And Evernote will remember it forever, so in the unlikely case you are audited, you will have backup.

Pro Tip: write the purpose of the expenditure on the receipt. “Took Writing Partner Mindy out to Dinner.” That way you can remember and explain it to the IRS. Surprisingly, you don’t need a receipt if the expense is less than $75. In those cases, a bank statement will suffice.

3. Talk to your tax guy.

Give him a call halfway through the year and ask for advice. Ask him questions when you do your taxes. He’s a professional and should be able to give you ideas for how you can save more money.

Ask him or her to give you 3 ways you can save more money on your taxes next year. If they don’t have any ideas, then get a different tax professional.

4. Consult this handy dandy website called 99 Deductions.

This website offers additional deductions that apply specifically to writers. The link above is directly to the “Author” page, and it lists common deductions for writers (even including a few that weren’t mentioned on this page!)


I hope that’s all encouraging to hear, and gives you a lot more things to deduct on your taxes. It really doesn’t take that much time. A little bit of organization will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The most common objection I hear is: I’m not taking deductions because I’m not earning money from my writing. Well, in that case, the IRS might judge it as a hobby rather than a business. But if you’ve gone to school for it, or if you’re earning some income and working regularly, you can fight to have it judged a business.

Most writers earn very little money for several years before finally getting regular income from books, speaking engagements, and freelance opportunities. Still, the IRS wants to see income and profit within about three years of taking deductions, or else they start to get suspicious.

Disclaimer: I am not a tax professional or the son of a tax professional. Although I’ve done my best to make sure the information on this page is accurate, don’t come crying to me if the IRS starts spanking you for some borderline-illegal behavior. Also, consult with a tax professional before doing anything drastic. Be safe out there, folks. 

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  1. Can I deduct Amazon Prime, fiction book purchases, and my new laptop? What about art classes? I’m trying to get good enough to illustrate my book.

    1. Yes on Amazon prime, same as Netflix and HBO. Of course any and all books. And yes on your laptop.

      Art classes are a maybe. If you were a graphic novelist, it would be a slam dunk.

    1. Because I thought it was so obvious I shouldn’t need to include it. Of course you include printing and computer expenses.

  2. I am developing a self-help book related to a disease. The book requires me to purchase products for the photographs, but these products can be used for more than product shots. For example, I could use them in my kitchen, for personal use. How do I handle this for tax purposes? I am concerned that the cost of these products could be a red flag for IRS. Book writing takes up about 20% of the hours I devote to my small business. Thanks for your help

    1. Good question. Although I’m not a licensed tax attorney, I would guess that you could still deduct them if you’re using the images in your book. The other choice is to simply buy images from a site or to check on Pixabay, where all the images are free for your use.

  3. This may be a silly question. I am just sending my novel off to agents. I have no idea where the journey will go. Or how long it will take to get there. I noticed you mentioned the IRS gets suspicious after about 3 years of no activity. Should I try getting deductions this soon? I hear it takes years sometimes to get published. And of course, there’s the greater possibility that every agent says no. Can I be reimbursed for getting ready to be a writer?

    1. If you can show income from freelance writing, or other sources, that could work. But be brave and take those deductions. Hope for the best in the future.

  4. What about my time to write? Essentially the salary I should get if I were writing for pay. I just published my first novel, which cost me hours and hours to write. So far I have made little income on it, but the cost of my time to produce it was probably $20,000 if I calculate the hours times a reasonable hourly wage. Can I deduct writing hours?

  5. I just spent 3 nights alone in a local hotel working round the clock to finish my manuscript to meet my deadline. Any chance this can be deducted?

    1. As far as I know, I believe it can be deducted as a writing retreat. But it would be better if the hotel was further away from your home.

  6. What about concept designs? I had some of my main characters animated for one, to help me better describe them in my writing, but also do use as advertising such as little teasers of the book. Would that be a write off though? Thank you!

  7. Thank you for these tips! I am now wondering if I may deduct my walking shoes? (I think a lot of writers would agree that walking is vital to liberating words!)

    1. Sorry, but probably not. Walking shoes are useful for more than just writing activities, so I highly doubt the IRS would allow it.

  8. I interviewed over 30 people for my book and in return, they received a free copy. From what I gather, I would have a deduction of the actual cost of the book print, plus postage to mail it to the contributor. What type of cost would this fall under? Advertising?