Monday, January 23, 2012

Avoid Taxes, Attend a Conference

Like many writers I know, I'm a member of several email loops and get hundreds of emails on any given day. If you were to look at my inbox and the (at current count) 7,513 emails in there, you'd think that I'm just wasting precious server space at Gmail headquarters.  But I'm not and I'll tell you why.

Every day, usually in my morning hours (aka, the first hour or so after I drag my carcass from bed for the first steaming cup of my, sweetened with sugar and milk, English Breakfast tea), I plop myself down in front of the laptop or fire up the iPhone to scan the emails that came into all my Gmail accounts (last count—I have 4 of them) since last check.  Notice that I said scan.  That's right, I scan the subject of every email—which means that during the morning scan, if a subject catches my attention, then I open the email as soon as I see it. 

Two days ago, during my morning ritual, I came across an interesting topic posed in an indie writers' (my definition of indie authors: writers who have stamina and a healthy, hungry dose of entrepreneurship blasting through their veins) loop. The question revolved around filing taxes for 2011—more specifically, how the indie authors on the loop were planning to file their 2011 taxes: Self Employed or Sole Proprietor?

Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am NOT a certified public accountant (CPA) in any way, shape, or incarnation. Heck, I can't even master balancing a checkbook that is linked to an account that has an ATM card—something that my MBA accountant mother thinks is hysterical and slightly disturbing… especially given that I can do calculus all day long, but the moment you stick a dollar sign to the front of the numbers… it becomes ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to me—pretty ones at that. But anyway, back to my point…

From that series of emails, I learned three interesting things:

#1 Sole proprietor and Self-employed can mean the same thing from a tax perspective.
#2 Turbo Tax will offer TurboTax users free live tax advice this year (Don't believe me? Click the link).
#3 There's a difference between Tax Evasion (illegal) and Tax Avoidance (legal). (This point was mentioned to me by former CFO, Louisiana native, and (Southern style) romantic intrigue author, Jana De Leon.)

It was point #3 that really made me think: "Hmmm, what can I do to cultivate my business acumen, obtain some tax deductions, and indulge in some legal tax avoidance fun in the sun?" (Because, truthfully (and in the game of death and taxes), it's never too early to start planning your tax avoidance strategies and deductions for the year.)

Answer: Attend a writers' conference in a cool location that I've always wanted to visit, but never had a reason to—like Fantasy on the Bayou in New Orleans, March 2-4, 2012… 

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