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Thread: IRS business activity wise, am I a Writer or publisher?

  1. #1
    Researching History's Mysteries HistorySleuth's Avatar
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    IRS business activity wise, am I a Writer or publisher?

    Medievalist brought up a point in another thread on self-publishing and ISBNs, that I've asked over the years in AW. The difference wasn't perceived as a concern. I most likely didn't relay my question on what I was getting at accurately. Since my question would probably be getting off the main topic over there, I thought I would start a new thread. From the other thread Medievalist said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post

    Again, someone serious about self-publishing and creating a professional book would consider things like a DBA, and the name of their publishing endeavor. Self-publishing done well is a perfectly reasonable business, but you do need to approach it as a professional and a business person.
    Aside from my regular job, I've done historical research and writing for about 15 years for myself and others. Since I make money at it, I always claim it and file the schedule C etc.

    If I buy a block of 10 ISBN numbers I have to have a publishing business name right? So when it comes to the IRS business activity codes, am I a Writer (711510) or am I now a publisher (511130)? Actually, even without the ISBN thing, I am still publishing books.

    It might seem like I'm splitting hairs but I would think there might be a difference in writer/author vs publisher in what you could claim as business expenses or maybe other forms even?
    Last edited by HistorySleuth; 02-03-2013 at 09:16 AM. Reason: typo in title
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  2. #2
    Writing! Writing! Writing! Requiescat In Pace
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    As a self-published author, I am self-employed and file taxes as such, including contributions to Social Security, Medicare and FICA. I will be sending, IIRC, three forms when I do my taxes. Definitely after my move, as things are very hectic right now. If I were to publish someone else's books, I think that designation would change and I would be a small business owner.

    IANAL, of course, and am not dispensing legal advice. My first year as a self-publisher, I only earned $300 or so (I started late in the year), so this will be my first go 'round with my taxes, but I have had a small business previously and know some of that particular paperwork.
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  3. #3
    Researching History's Mysteries HistorySleuth's Avatar
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    Ah. That makes sense, Merrihiatt. I'm not going to be publishing anyone's books, just mine.
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  4. #4
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    It all goes on Schedule C. (Don't forget the quarterly estimated tax.)

    *** NOT A TAX PROFESSIONAL ***

  5. #5
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    The codes are just to give the IRS an idea of the types of business expenses that should be affiliated with the business. So, for example, if you're a writer OR a publisher, they're going to expect to see things like office expenses, postage, maybe a little travel to a conference, some software, dues, research expenses, maybe computer depreciation, professional advice, etc. What they're NOT going to expect to see is something like huge amounts of vehicle expenses (beyond a little mileage to attend conferences) or huge property insurance bills, or thousands and thousands of dollars of supplies, like a manufacturer would have, or ... I dunno, I can't think of more examples, but you get the idea. They probably (don't know this for sure) have expected ranges of expenses tied to each code number, and if your deductions fall way outside the range (high OR low; there are reasons why low deductions are suspicious too, especially for anyone claiming the earned income credit), it can trigger an audit.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a licensed tax professional, and I am just giving general information, not individual advice.

  6. #6
    Researching History's Mysteries HistorySleuth's Avatar
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    Sounds the same as I have been doing right along so that is good to know.
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