Friday, January 20, 2006

The Taxman Cometh

It’s creative accounting time in Britain. By the end of January, we have to submit our tax returns for the year ended 5 April 2005 – there’s a reason for that crazy date but it’s too boring – and pay what we owe, or get an automatic fine. We also have to pay what we don’t owe: ie. half of what the Revenue THINKS we will be called upon to pay next year.
If you are an average-earning writer, (and not, as the Revenue seems to assume, Stephen King), and wish to feed your family in the year to come, a great deal of creativity is called for in deciding which legally deductible items you will NOT claim.
I write articles based on my travels, and, not being Bill Bryson, I have them to sell to magazines who pay anything between one Euro ($1 or 60p) and zilch per carefully-honed word – but usually averaging around 50 centimes (50cents or 30p). As anyone other than a Tax Collector would appreciate, this does not cover a fraction of the travel costs, so I make a loss. Too big a loss would arouse the interest of the Taxman: consequently, rather than cause him to fall off his chair in uproarious laughter, I charge only around 20% of my actual deductible travel expenses. And rather than tax (pun intended) his credibility even further, I inflate my actual earnings by at least 100%.
That’s how much I like to travel – and write.
It’s a crazy world.

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