Death and Taxes

It’s taken me a while to realise that writing is a business – a proper business. I’m not talking about all the guff to do with contracts, selling scripts, and attribution. I’m talking about claiming expenses.

You are entitled to claim back some of the expenses from writing – even if you have not sold a script.

I’m based in New Zealand, so I was looking at it from the point of view of our tax system. However, I also flicked an email to the ScriptNotes podcast (compulsory listening for every screenwriter). John August and Craig Mazin discussed it in the “Getting Paid For It” episode and said that you can definitely claim expenses in America too. I’m sure there are similar provisions in other countries.

A dollar saved is more than a dollar earned because you don’t have to pay tax (Ankala Subbarao)

Things you can definitely claim a portion of:

  • Rent
  • Insurance
  • Power
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Software costs
  • Accountants fees
  • Printing costs (paper, toner, etc)

I also want to find out if things like Netflix or PrimeVideo subscription costs can be claimed as “Research”. You might be able to claim it, however I’d hate to do anything to get on the wrong side of the tax man. Screenwriting is about making the unreal believable… just don’t do that with a tax return.

Don’t blindly take my work for it. Have a chat to a tax agent to see what can be done in your situation.

Finally, you might find that you take your writing more seriously when you are financially accountable. It takes it from being a hobby, to being a business. If you want to be a successful writer you will have to make that mind shift.


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