I don’t want to let the subject of taxes go without expressing our appreciation for the fat credit we got for installing solar panels. That was a gift from all of you other taxpayers, and we’re grateful. Now that you’ve finally got it right, I don’t think I’d be out of line for mentioning that we like this a whole lot better than that war you’ve been getting us the last God knows how many years, which was the wrong size.
Something else. Once I got done with the preparation and sent it all off to meet its taker, my tax prep software wanted to know if I was interested in learning my chances of getting audited. I’m not particularly afraid of getting audited. If it happens, I will stride into the office with a clean conscience. “I’ve done the best I could,” I’ll say. “You figure it out, and then get back to me.” Which is what I wish they’d do from the get-go, anyway.
Still, I clicked “yes” to the question, and my software then assured me my risk of audit was low. On the other hand, they saw some “areas of concern.” Would I like to see the areas of concern?
Not really. I don’t even like it when my friends tell me they’re concerned about me. It’s never anything good, and it interferes with my avoidance strategy.
But this is just a stupid bunch of software. A stupid, wickedly intuitive bunch of software. I could click “no thanks,” and it would lean back, stroke its beard, arch one brow, and say well then. Okay. I just wanted to ask. Then I could banish its icon from my desktop and send it to its folder, where it would tell all my other documents about me. I hate when that happens.
Fine. Since you must know, Mr. Fancypants Tax Software, yes, I have a business that doesn’t appear to be taking in any money. If you’d take the time to notice, Mr. Fancypants Tax Software, I said that right up front, when you asked the nature of my business, and I typed in “writing.” Do you know what that means? That means that I am employed in the business of distilling my entire life experience and language heritage into little jewels of verbiage to charm the hearts or loosen the bowels of dozens of unnamed souls in the blogosphere, for no remuneration whatsoever. Similarly, I am compelled to concoct gems of humor for the likes of Smithsonian Magazine or The New Yorker, one of which wants humor as long as it isn’t all that funny, and the other of which doesn’t care if it’s funny at all as long as it’s gimmicky enough. And to do this I need to take my natural wit and cook it down till all the funny is rendered out of it, leaving only a thin gruel of light chuckling. Then I must send it out and wait several months for a rejection notice, or–because people in my situation are a dime a peck–an extended silence that I can feel free to interpret as a rejection after an abject half-year or so. I will have you know, Mr. Fancypants Tax Software, that I have been rejected by the best of them, and also by the North Dakota Living Magazine.
And why is this a business? It is a business because it is all in the service of developing an audience for more of my productions, which will also go unremunerated. It is a business because I am writing a novel that I would like people to read, and I have been solemnly informed that I require a platform in order to get anyone to read it. I need to network without appearing to stalk, work the social media without appearing to wheedle, and urge my readers to tell all their friends about me without appearing to snivel, all so that some day people will want to part with a dab of cash for this book I’m writing. And why should they, when they can get so much for free? I have no idea, Mr. Fancypants Tax Software. To be absolutely honest, I don’t even care that much if they do pay, as long as they read it. But you asked if I had a business, not if I had an intelligent business plan.
So thank you for your concern, but if I were you, I’d just grow up and get used to the fact that I’m going to be writing off the cost of my printer cartridges for years to come. Suck on that, Mack.
Mother says you should be nice to the IRS. Talk nice and play pretty, you know they are watching. Did you thank Fancypants for the spyware they gave you?
Oh the lot of a writer. Life becomes one bad debt, a tax write off.
When I was young I thought that it would be good if I earned less then I'd have less tax to pay.
I now now otherwise.
What a terrific post. Good luck with the taxman.
I saw some idiot on MoJO complaining he paid $175,000 in taxes. I only wish…
You're working on a book? Really? Kewl! I want to write one too, but no idea where or how to begin.
Wish I had your moxie.
I'll read it. And I'll pay for it, too. If this blog was by subscription only, I would pay it!
I'm right there with Me. I would pay good money for this blog if it was the only way to read it. But heck, don't listen to me, what do I know? I only know I smile when I get ready to read a new MurrMurr.
Want an alpha reader? I'm not good with story arc (I rely on Pat Lichen to set me straight on that aspect) but I AM a wordsmith. I can help you polish your prose and find the graceful phrase. And I will then pay real money for the finished work because us writers stick together.
Hey, thanks, all. And yes you are, Roxie. I am supposed to find an editor. I want one who doesn't do anything. Might need some alpha readers too. In the meantime everybody get busy and make me famous. 'K, bye!
We're a sad lot, we creative types who always seem to end up at the bottom of the food chain. As the song goes, "What I did for love…" While that, in itself, is reward we tell ourselves, the mocking voices from the dark side continue to shout, "Yeah, but cash is king."
I promise to buy your book, my talented friend.
You should branch out into media production like I did, that way you can write of cool stuff like routers, computers and the monthly cable bill. Surprisingly we actually made a profit in 2010!! Now all I need to do is move my corporate headquarters to Switzerland so I can avoid paying taxes altogether.
Brilliant post! I know it's wrong, but part of me likes being one of your chosen few in-the-know. Once you go mainstream (and you will), where's the intellectual elitism fun in that? Still, I'm rooting for the money stream to turn your way.
I'd pay good money to read a book as funny as your blog posts, and I am a hardcore cheapskate.
The North Dakota Living editors don't know what they're missing. (And no way am I going to submit to them now.)
Okay, I have a brilliant idea for you to both earn money and develop an even larger fan base! You know how a lot of people are making money on YouTube now, when they have a lot of followers and post regularly? They can have really simple videos, such as how to tie a tie or braid your hair, but advertisers sponsor them, because of the traffic to their site. I don't mind having to click past an ad to get to a really good video (like this one – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgSUDjJfI0Y ).
You could make easy videos of yourself reading your blogs twice weekly, of course also including the fine photos you use for these gems. Many people are more willing to watch a YouTube video for a couple of minutes than to actually read a blog, and your turns of phrase are rather exemplary, and people love to share these links because a video seems much more immediate, and MUCH more likely to go viral than a Blog.
President of the Admurration Society
Terry Fallis won Canada Reads this year for his book "The Best Laid Plans". He was getting nowhere with publishers and finally self-published, advertising it by reading it online a chapter at a time. The online readings got it noticed, with people following it and the rest, as they say, was history.
So there are ways around the old, creaking systems, Murr, and I think you've already discovered one portal through the magic of blogdom. You hurry up and get it written. I'll buy a copy for sure, sight unseen, content unknown.
If I'd 've known I would get all these nice comments, I would have put in a whiny post months ago. Podcasting, huh? Yet another one of those ideas I'd have to get used to. Doesn't mean I can't.
Back to your regularly-scheduled humor on Saturday.
In our house the only income is the social security deposited into our account. Some people in government have plans for MY money that was taken out of MY pay checks all MY life at all MY jobs. I will not tell you what plans I have for them if they attempt to touch MY money. Harrumph.
I think you did an excellent job of telling off Mr Fancypants Tax Software. Way to go!
"I am employed in the business of distilling my entire life experience and language heritage into little jewels of verbiage to charm the hearts or loosen the bowels of dozens of unnamed souls in the blogosphere, for no remuneration whatsoever." I need a T-shirt with that on it…it sounds so much fancier than "writer"!
Fun post, Murr!
I wonder how many years I can claim a loss on my writing business before the taxman cometh. Five? Seven? What's the magic number? I imagine them lying in wait.
Someday we won't have to worry about taxes, but of course, we'll be dead. But in the meantime, we only do this once a year.
Cool thing about being dead is you don't have to worry about taxes OR death. You know, once you've done it.
And Writers' Salon, I believe the magic number is Three. This year will be year three for me. I think I just need to sell, like, three articles. Which would be totally easy if all those editors would just roll over for me. What ARE they thinking?
So funny! I actually need to buy a new cartridge (thanks for the reminder), I've not written any of them off yet — which makes me wonder what the odds are of me being able to save that receipt in a safe place for the next 12 months?
This was so good! I have so many of those thoughts while we we're doing the Schedule C each year. 🙂