It is tax time. Do you feel the need to fortify yourself with Tylenol, chocolate, or Starbucks before you can face the paperwork? Are you a blogger and teacher who sells lessons on TPT? I have been selling lessons on TPT for several years now and have learned a few things that make tax season a little less stressful.
The paperwork side of being a seller-blogger is much like the paperwork side of being a teacher. As a teacher, it took me a few years to learn a system that worked best for me. You need a system in place for this job, too. Trust me, you do not want to throw your receipts in a box and not look at them until April 1st. That would be like a teacher waiting until the week before report cards are due to grade a semester's worth of homework. Mistake . . . BIG MISTAKE!
Please remember, I am not a tax professional. You should consult a tax professional for advice. These are ideas that I have found over time that worked for me.
I don't know if you have been a victim of identity theft, but I have . . . TWICE! Yes, that's right, it has happened to my husband and me two times. It is a very miserable experience. The first time, our bank account was frozen for 12 days until the investigation was over. The second time, we had Lifelock so it was a much shorter process. I am very hesitant to give out personal identifying information because of this experience. When you do business as a blogger, like sign up for Google Adsense, you have to provide either your social security number or Federal Tax ID- EIN (Employer Tax Identification Number). I recommend getting a EIN so you don't have to give your social security number. Click HERE to apply for an EIN.
It is less complicated if you set up a separate bank account for your business. I met with a Business Banker who walked me through all of the steps. I have a checking account, savings account, and credit card. I purchase all of my supplies for my business with my business credit card. I downloaded my expense report from my credit card at the end of the year and saw my spending for the year divided by different categories. Since I use only one card to purchase everything, it is easy to match receipts each month with my statement.
I have been pinning posts with tax tips on my latest Pinterest boards. You can find more ideas there.
Here's the thing . . . I like the creative side of being a TPT seller but I really don't like the business side of it - AT ALL! Most of the time when my husband ask me how much is in my business checking or savings account, I have to log in to my account and look. I would rather just create lessons and write blog posts. I love creating lessons and the thought that I am hopefully helping another teacher out there.
You wouldn't keep your teaching job for very long, if you only taught your students and refused to grade papers. This business is the same way. I knew I had to do the number crunching side of it. But, the traditional ways of keeping tracking of all of the numbers stuff was boring and dull. These systems did not motivate me at all. Do you feel the same way? Do you need a system that still keeps track of the information that is required yet has a little pizzazz?
You will save valuable time, hassle, and stress if you will organize a tax tub. I'm sure you have organized a sub tub so you are experienced! Keep everything that you need in this tub - including the pen, calculator, and any other tools that you use.
Through the years, I have misplaced many things that have fallen out of traditional folders. For something as important as your business paperwork, I recommend splurging on pocket folders. It is worth the extra expense.
I love, love, love Pilot FriXion erasable pens. They erase cleanly and are wonderful to write with.
I am now adding all of these tax documentation forms to my TPT store in case you would like to use the same system. I have been tweaking my forms this past week to make it user friendly to others. I included an editable file so you can personalize it to fit your needs.
You can set up this system in a 3-ring binder or bind it in a book. I did a test run at Staples so I would understand what is involved with binding a book. I included directions in case you choose the book method.
There are different covers in the editable file so you can personalize yours. There are covers with girl clipart, boy clipart, and covers without children.
As a teacher, I looking for patterns and progress was motivating and made me effective. These same skills are useful as a blogger-seller. The Monthly Totals page makes it easy to see patterns.
- Am I spending more on ads this month? If so, look at my income this month. Do I see a difference?
- I highlight the box in the Commission and Fees column when I need to pay something that month. It is a good reminder. You know teachers, we're all about visual cues!
Click HERE to download this freebie.
I included a Site Wide Sales chart with this packet. This isn't something that the IRS will want to see if you are audited. It goes along with my looking-for-progress-and-patterns thing that carried over from teaching. As you know, teaching can be a stressful job. There are times when you may have gotten a less-than-pleasant email from a parent, stern chat from your administrator, or run in with a colleague and feel out of sorts. It helps to look over your charts and see how much growth your students have made this year. Your instruction has made a difference in your students' lives.
These charts can work the same way for blogger-sellers. There are days when you get less-than-pleasant feedback on something that you put your heart into. For whatever reason, your buyer didn't see its value. Or maybe you are getting discouraged. It seems like EVERYONE but you has had so much success. Why hasn't it happened to you? Use these documents to give your encouragement.
For each section, there is a colorful and black & white divider. There is a monthly page to document your income. It is also included in the editable file.
There is a monthly overview section of business expenses so you can see an overview of your expenses.
Each type of expense has a divider and monthly overview chart. The Auto & Mileage section has two additional pages. There is a chart to write down the places that you visit for business frequently. Write down the distance to those stores. Use this as a reference for future mileage reports. There is also a chart to document auto expenses.
The travel section has an extra page. Document your business expenses on this chart when you go on a trip. If you are going to the TPT Conference you will want to earmark this section.
Does this sound like something you would like to try? If so, click on the picture below.
Click HERE to check this out.
Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.