Think of mileage not as wear and tear on your car, or the cost of gas, but as the toll all those miles of crumbling interstate take on your body, your spirit. The exhaustion of driving across three states to write a review for a $75 freelance deadline. And if it wasn’t even your car you were driving, it was your dignity.
You’re a freelancer; you haven’t had a decent meal in years. And yet every bite of food since (and during) grad school has been a working meal. You talk and read and think about work at all times. Use your imagination here. If these working meals had been not Annie’s Mac and Cheese but dinners out with editors (you’ve never actually met), what might you have ordered? The $26 mushroom risotto? The $33 slab of fish? Total these, a whole year’s worth. Take your time. Get dessert.
You check everything — everything — out at the public library. A habit formed back when you had access to university libraries and databases. Some of these books you’ve checked out in excess of twenty times while using them for research on your own book or while trying to finally get all the way through Flow by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, which you’re certain will, in fact, optimize your experience if you just finish the damn thing. But you still haven’t caved and bought them. Don’t let this stop you from deducting the cover price. Plus mileage to and from the library.
Most of your medical expenses — the Lexapro Rx, the yoga pass, acupuncture, gym membership, Fitbit — are directly related to your Schedule C income-generating work and the psychological and physical ramifications of sitting at the laptop you’ve had for at least a decade updating the social media for the nonprofit you contract for while typing drafts of art reviews you may write in your sleep for all you care. Which reminds me, deduct the new pillow you bought for your neck problems, and the eyemask to dim the light pollution, and the earplugs that still can’t block out the sound of your own revolving panic over how you’re going to pay your freelancer taxes.
Are not deductible, even the blazer you splurged on in a fit of optimism for your sell-out job interview that you didn’t get. Athleisure wear is a gray area.
Are not dependents, this is a grave heteropatriarchal injustice.
Your home is your office. Everything you buy, do, or say for or in your home is a deduction. Furniture, household cleaners, Netflix (count all streaming subscriptions and movie tickets twice, once for the home office and once for research expenses), time spent on chores, time spent avoiding chores because you are working or watching a streaming service, computer, phone, (even if you bought these in a previous tax year, count them again — you’re still using them, aren’t you?), chargers to replace the cords your cat ate, replacements for the replacement cords, framed artwork (inspiration), records (ambiance for your working environment), eyewear, loungewear, working snacks, Muji notebooks, heating bills, electricity, internet, rent.
You have a friend in her 70s who has been doing this much longer than you have. Her motto: “Wake up, take a breath” [licks and raises index finger] “—that’s a deduction.”
Do bear in mind that she has spent the last two years under audit.