Pub Rants

It’s That Time Of Year When All Thoughts Turn To…Quarterly Estimated Taxes

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STATUS: It’s after 8 p.m. It’s really time to leave the office.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DEAD MAN’S PARTY by Oingo Boingo

Just a happy FYI that the deadline for the third round of quarterly taxes is tomorrow, September 15, 2009. If you still need to pay, don’t delay as you’ll want a US Post Office post mark on the envelope so as not to be charged penalty or fees. I’d send certified mail just to be safe if you’ve waited until the very last day to send.

And if you have to make regular quarterly payments, I suggest getting hooked up with the EFTPS site so you can make payments electronically.

And I might as well take a moment to remind authors that it’s not worth getting behind in estimated payments due from book income throughout the year. I’ve heard one too many horror stories from authors who always thought that the next check would pay all the taxes only to find themselves in a major hole later on (as the next check was basically already spent before taxes came around again).

I know some of you are thinking that gee, I wish I could just get paid for my writing to begin with; I’d be happy to pay taxes. (Okay, maybe not “happy to” but you’d be delighted at the idea of having to because you’re earning money from writing.) For all you published authors out there earning income, this is a not so gentle nudge. Pay your taxes, quarterly, and on time. And if you are the kind of person who doesn’t manage money well or just likes the idea of it, sign up for EFTPS and simply have X amount taking out monthly so it becomes part of your monthly budget–an automatic debit you don’t have to think about when April 15, June 15, Sept. 15, and Jan. 15 rolls around.

That way your taxes are paid (and the date doesn’t sneak up on you when funds might not be in the ole checking account).

14 Responses

  1. Amber J. Gardner said:

    This is one of the few things that worry me when I imagine myself being published (yes, I always think way too ahead).


    I never had to pay them myself before (it was just taken out of my paycheck), so how will I know how much to pay? Where do I pay? How do I pay? Etc.

    It seems so complicated and a bit scary. I don’t want to have the IRS on me just because I didn’t know better.

  2. Anonymous said:

    Wow. You folks have to pay taxes based on what you think you might earn throughout the year? That’s borderline abusive. It must be particularly bad for folks like me with no steady income.

    Paying taxes shouldn’t be so painful.

  3. ORION said:

    After my book sold the first thing I did was consult a tax attorney for my state and a CPA. It’s been WAY worth it – I heard horror stories myself…interestingly enough getting into tax difficulties is the same thing that happens to LOTTERY winners…

  4. Kimberly Kincaid said:

    If I could sell my book, I’d *feel* like a lottery winner 😉

    Great advice, and something about which I’d not yet thought (holy moly, I’m on the grammar train today…). Thanks for pointing this out. If a book deal ever comes down the pike for me, I’ll probably be so giddy that the nuts and bolts will be temporarily forgotten. Now I know.

    Thanks for the knowledge!

  5. Maya / מיה said:

    Thanks so much! I almost forgot about this, and I didn’t know about EFTPS. It seems like a godsend now that I live overseas! This one post has quite possibly saved me a good deal in late fees.

    Also, I feel a little comforted. I’m not earning money from my writing yet, but I already cope with the annoying tax mess of being an independent contractor– hence pre-paying estimated taxes. At least now I know that earning money from writing works the same way!

  6. Rachel Menard said:

    Totally true. My husband is self-employed and in addition to getting a huge tax bill at the end of the year, the state charged us a fee for NOT paying quarterly.

  7. Lynn Colt said:

    I mailed in my check yesterday – I’m not a published author (still aspiring), but I am self-employed. I hadn’t heard about the online payment option, so thanks for the tip!

  8. Leona said:

    This is very good advice. I used to work as a bookkeeper. Let me tell you, PAY YOUR TAXES. The firm I was working for didn’t pay what they were told to by (albeit by me) and trouble ROLLED.

    And FYI, for anyone in that line of work, you are responsible if they don’t pay. I found out by getting liens put on all my stuff. I didn’t have the money for an attorney. Maybe you can get out of it, but in the meantime? A mess!!

    Bottom line? PAY YOUR TAXES. Better to get money back then be stuck with fees and penalties (which add up faster than the taxes do!).

  9. Madison L. Edgar said:

    You are absolutely right, Kristin! I’d be happy to pay taxes if I could get published… Spoken like a true accountant, it’s all about the benefits outweighing the costs! 🙂

  10. Dara said:

    Huh. Never knew that you had to pay quarterly taxes if you were self-employed. One more thing to add to a list of things to worry about should I ever get published 😛

    Shows how incredibly naive I am 😛

  11. Anonymous said:

    Wow. You folks have to pay taxes based on what you think you might earn throughout the year? That’s borderline abusive. It must be particularly bad for folks like me with no steady income.

    My current year’s quarterly taxes are based on last year’s income. But my income fluctuates, so I base my quarterly payments on real-time numbers. (A practice that’s been approved by my accountant.) But definitely check with your accountant.

    The main thing is, you don’t want to underpay. That’s when the IRS gets cranky.