A tax time checklist for writers

A woman leaning over her kitchen bench using a laptop and calculator.

By Allison Tait.

In case you missed it, the financial year ended a few weeks ago in a flurry of retail sales and dire warnings about how the tax office is planning a crackdown in 2022 after a couple of years of benevolence due to the pandemic. The 21/22 financial year is done and dusted, leaving you with whatever receipts you’ve managed to put away in that shoebox and, if you’re anything like me, a whole bunch of shoulda/woulda/coulda for ideal tax preparation.

This checklist will help you get more organised* for next year.

1. Talk to your accountant

If you’re using the same accountant you’ve had since you began your first part-time job, it might be time for a chat – particularly if your writing career is new or growing quickly from a side-hustle to a full-time commitment.

Does your accountant have other arts-based clients? Do they understand the requirements, deductions and other ins and outs of a writing career? If not, ask around to find an accountant with the expertise you need.

2. Look at your tools

Once you’re happy you’re in the right hands, it’s time to get serious about record keeping. Ask your accountant which accounting software they use (MYOB, Quickbooks, Xero etc.) and whether or not it would be worth you using the same. If you’re not invoicing a lot, you may find that a simple expense tracker such as Expensify or Mint might be all you need.

3. Get a deductions list

Ask your accountant to give you a list of deductions relevant to you and your writing business. You may be able to claim everything from books to the latest gig you attended – or you may not, depending on what you’re writing, who for and how often. Once you have a specific list, you’ll have a clear picture of what receipts are worth keeping and what can be recycled.

 A woman looking through her receipts and using a laptop, with a calculator and coffee nearby.

4. Don’t forget your super

Self-employed writers are notoriously bad at paying themselves superannuation – and it shows. When you work for yourself, there are often a million other things to think about. But it may be possible to claim your voluntary contributions (which will go towards that all-important nest egg for the future) and reduce your tax liability today. Again, ask your accountant for advice, but don’t overlook it!

5. Stay on top of your BAS this year

Yes, the quarterly BAS gives us all a stomach ache, but it also allows you to assess your finances every quarter, letting you see whether or not you’ve allocated enough to your Pay As You Go (PAYG) contributions every three months. Depending on your circumstances, you might be allowed to choose to do this annually. And while it’s tempting to think that will save you money right now, you’ll just have a really big tax bill at the end of the financial year – and nobody wants that.

While the financial side of writing is less than glamorous, keeping on top of it will allow you to avoid disasters down the track. A huge tax bill is not a plot twist that any writer needs in their life, and a bit of planning now is a small price to pay!

*Note, this information is designed to be general in nature and is not financial advice. Check your specific situation with a qualified accountant or tax adviser.


 

Author Allison Tait smiling

Allison Tait is the author of three epic middle-grade adventure series for kids: The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. A presenter at AWC and former co-host of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, Al is currently working through her receipts… Find out more about her at allisontait.com.

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