What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Trouble with Taxes January 25, 2019

I have never claimed to be the best at adulting. There are several areas of basic skills that I’ve never mastered. I’m a hazard in the kitchen, I don’t know anything about cars, and the only way I know to fix household appliances is to call a repairman.

I am, however, used to being smart enough to understand things. My brain is currently failing me.

For the past several years, I’ve done taxes for the husband and me. Not exactly the most glamorous chore, but I liked getting everything done. Each year, things got a bit tougher. We started getting 1099s, we had more specialty acting deductions. But I muddled through, with a ton of help from the husband, who was tasked with tracking receipts.

Then I arrived at this year’s taxes. I knew the code had changed, so I started doing a bit of research… and fell down a black hole of doom. Most of the tax write offs actors used to have—classes, show makeup, dance shoes—were gone. I had figured that much out just by listening to my fellows freak out about how to pay for everything if it wasn’t going to be a write off. But then I got stuck on one simple question, how does standard meal allowance, or M&IE (federal meals and incidental expense) work now?

If you’re not someone who travels for work on a regular basis, that’s when you get to write off a set amount for having to eat when you’re out of town for a gig.

Can I write off M&IE? How does M&IE affect the standard deduction? Is it different for actors? Am I even considered human and allowed to file a tax return? Not to be rude, but WTF!

I even resorted to asking for help from other performing types on Facebook to see if anyone understood how the rules work now. It turned into a daylong affair of me being really certain I had somehow broken my brain and would never again be able to read an article about finances without panicking.

Turns out I just need to take a standard, normal people deduction and hope for the best.

With taking a bunch of my books Indie and having to worry about 1099s for publishing and how to write off cover art, I’ve made the solid decision to hire an accountant who specializes in creative arts customers and have them tell me what the heck I’m supposed to be keeping track of ASAP. Because I may be smart, but damn dude, I do not have the spare brain power to commit to this mess.


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