For everyone here in the USA, it’s that time of year again. We’re coming up on the deadline for taxes. If you’re a writer, this means tallying those royalty checks for the year and filling out forms. Lots of forms.
As usual when the government writes something, the finished product (in this case, the tax code) is near incomprehensible to the rest of the country. The IRS has forms and lines for royalties. Authors earn royalties. Except, no, the government means oil royalties, not book royalties. Since most of us aren’t oil barons, those forms don’t apply to us. The ones that do apply to us writers are the Schedule C or C-EZ, the SE, and the 1040.
Since the C and C-EZ appear to require the 1040 in particular, there’s no EZ way out of that one. The SE, or self-employment tax form, can present a real plot turn. If you didn’t make huge royalty earnings in a given year, then you have to fill out the form before it tells you whether you had to fill out the form. If the final verdict is “no,” then you can enjoy one of two responses: cursing that you just wasted all that time filling it out or thanking your lucky stars you don’t have to pay SE taxes.
Personally, I think the real purpose of all those math and word problems on the SATs is to prepare today’s youth for their future taxes.