All of us who earn an income must deal with taxation. But freelance writers encounter special problems, because, typically, they work at home, can't easily predict their income from month to month (much less year to year), are forced to work at writing part-time, and may not have corporate retirement plans to provide for their future. This book would be incomplete without some useful information about taxes; but we can't cover the tax laws in general, or this chapter would be at least as big as the rest of the book. So we'll limit our discussion to federal tax issues that affect freelance writers in special ways. People who are employed as writers and sometimes work at home are subject to tax rules that deal with "employee business expense." We won't cover those rules.
The American tax system is more than a way for the federal government to collect money; it's also a tool of social policy. When it was good for the country to encourage oil exploration, companies that did so got a tax break--called the "oil depletion allowance"--big enough to fund many small nations. But the tax laws offer no such break to writers, which speaks volumes about the place of the writer in our polity.