Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Business Briefs: A Painless Tax Session

Photo credit: Paul Keleher

My tax session Saturday with my long-time CPA Jerald Harris was a breeze and a great learning experience for me. I have to admit, I'm still a little shaky on some of his explanations of things, but I pay him the big bucks to know exactly what he's doing. I also appreciated his sincere efforts to try to help me understand things such as depreciation, what does and doesn't count as income or as a deduction.

I was better prepared for answering Jerry's slew of questions, but I still need to keep better detailed notes and records for this 15-point tax return checklist:

1) mileage to and from assignments
2) cost of office supplies, including printer ink, batteries, CF/SD cards, paper, software, etc
3) any kinds of equipment repairs (such as what I paid to get my 580 EX II repaired after it blew last year)
4) fees for staying in hotels during assignments
5) fees for food eaten while on assignments
6) costs of developing or printing photos for clients
7) costs for entertaining clients or giving gifts
8) vehicle repair
9) dues/subcriptions
10) computer and internet charges
11) bank charges
12) advertising/promotion
13) vocational literature
14) insurance
15) accounting and legal

If a part of your home is soley being used for an office, get the square foot of the home, monthly rental or mortgage, insurance, square footage of the office, annual utility bills and property tax. I have already moved my studio into my basement and I plan on moving my office into the extra guest bedroom in the basement as well, so I would be able to deduct expenses related to that entire space next year. Starting now, I need to go back and make some notes about the largest assignment I've had so far this year, my work in Snowmass for the National Brotherhood of Skiers. And Quicken has definitely made it a lot easier to stay organized, so it was worth the time to learn how to use it.

Jerry's ultimate words of praise: "You did pretty good kid, keep smiling!" And good luck to all of you, my readers during the 2008 tax season.

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