New Tax Guide for Writers, Artists, Performers and other Creative People


Peter Jason Riley’s book is the most authoritative and up-to-date guide to tax preparation for writers, actors, dancers, visual artists, musicians and other creative professionals. It includes information for 2011 tax forms along with a guide to completing them, useful for both individuals looking for information on preparing the forms, deductions and other tax issues. It also includes examples of 2011 final tax returns, as well as guides and links to where those tax forms can ...

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Paperback (Revised, 2012 Edition with 2011 Tax Year Forms)
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Peter Jason Riley’s book is the most authoritative and up-to-date guide to tax preparation for writers, actors, dancers, visual artists, musicians and other creative professionals. It includes information for 2011 tax forms along with a guide to completing them, useful for both individuals looking for information on preparing the forms, deductions and other tax issues. It also includes examples of 2011 final tax returns, as well as guides and links to where those tax forms can be found.

Written with the non-accountant, creative individual in mind, this guide provides a clear outline of taxes, responsibilities, income, deductions, I.R.S. audit guidance, timelines and tax and accounting issues. It also serves as a primer to to Peter Jason Riley’s outstanding website,, where in-depth tax information that goes beyond the scope of the book as well as updates that occur after publication can be found. Furthermore, the book covers good financial practices that the individual can refer to throughout the year to minimize taxes and the pain of filing them.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"For too many years, CEOs, lawyers, lobbyists, financiers, and other fat cats have tapped top tax advisers with insider tax tricks to drastically cut their tax bills—and soak everyone else. Peter J. Riley is the expert tax adviser for the rest of us. He levels the playing field for us writers, artists, actors, musicians, and other creative folks. Peter may not make you a millionaire, but he can make you think and calculate like one come tax time. He knows all the creative but legal tax strategies and secrets to reduce your tax burden so you can quickly get back to doing what you do best—with your money still in your pocket. Better yet, he explains all these strategies and secrets in plain, easy-to-grasp language that makes complete sense to the average, semi-numerate person like me. Reading Peter’s new tax book is almost your patriotic duty!"
— Mark Hoffman, roots-music writer and author

"Peter's book has been an enormously helpful tool for me. The ever-changing world of tax guidelines for artists confounds me, but the language Peter uses helps to simplify for those of us who are 'tax-challenged.' I can't imagine using any other source...well, except the man himself."
— Natalie Brown, equity actor

“This extremely helpful book has given me tools I was sorely lacking. Without Peter Jason Riley and his illuminating tax guide, I would be an anchorless ship on the high seas of finance!”
— Andre Dubus III, novelist

"Peter Jason Riley is a master of his craft and has been an indispensable part of our music industry team for over a decade. Taxes don’t have to be as painful as dentistry anymore. Peter's approach will give peace of mind. It’s a must read for everyone!"
— Anthony J. Resta, musician & record producer

"Peter Riley not only saved me thousands of dollars in tax payments, but he also saved each of my band members thousands. He knows the ins and outs of entertainment tax law and we are all in a better place financially because of it!"
 — Trevor Phipps, Songwriter & Lead Singer for Unearth

"It is wonderful to have an accountant who understands the individual needs of creative people."
— Holly Black, novelist

"Peter's knowledge and advice has saved me an immense amount of money and time. He is the best out there for professionals in the arts!"
— John Relyea, bass-baritone opera singer

"As a part-time writer in desperate need of tax assistance, I read Peter Riley's book in one breezing sitting. It was a great help in opening my eyes, full of little-known facts, figures, and even humor to help any contributor to the arts. Thank you, Peter!"
— Rick Coleman, writer and biographer

"Peter Riley has done our band as well as our personal taxes for at least ten years and has been equal parts attentive, kind, dependable and cool. (I mean, when do you ever get to say that about your accountant?) Even if you don't earn much money, he'll make you feel like a million bucks. Here's to our next ten years together!"
— Margo Hennebach, Mark Saunders and Mad Agnes

"The New Tax Guide is an invaluable resource for anyone making a living in the arts. Peter's advice is clear, easy to understand and a financial life-saver."
— Elizabeth Moloney, equity stage manager, NYC

"As a writer and editor, numbers have never been my strong suit. I owe a lot to Peter and his incredibly informative, accessible website — consequently (and thankfully), I don't owe as much at tax time."
— Kara LaReau, author & book editor

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585104697
  • Publisher: Focus Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/1/2012
  • Edition description: Revised, 2012 Edition with 2011 Tax Year Forms
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 667,023
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Jason Riley is a CPA in Newburyport, MA. He is also an amateur guitar player and CD collector, and he writes music reviews on a wide variety of music from folk and blues to jazz and rock.
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Read an Excerpt

1. Income

I will address the types of income a person involved in the arts might earn and introduce the most important point in the book: the difference between employment income and self-employment/contract income. In these days of multidisciplinary artists, it is common for folks to have income and expenses from both employment and self-employment. According to this differentiation, income and expenses will appear in different places on the income tax return. But first things first: What is income?

In essence, income is practically everything of value you receive in exchange for your products or services as a performer, visual artist or writer (hereafter referred to as “artist”). You can be “paid” in cash, services, or property; you can even have barter income. Taxable income may or may not be reported on a tax form such as a 1099-MISC, W-2 or K-1 at year-end. Most of you will be familiar with the first two tax forms, but perhaps not with the K-1. The form K-1 is a means of transferring income from a partnership to a partner, an LLC to a member, or an S type corporation to the stockholder. In other words, if the artist is a member of an LLC, then he or she will get a K-1 that will show their share of income from the business and this amount will be reported as income on their personal income tax return.

As well as the obvious form of cash payments for services directly performed or artwork delivered, your income may come in the form of “free” merchandise that a company gives you in exchange for a product endorsement. Actors often receive free or discounted products in exchange for the use of their name in advertisements. Musicians receive free merchandise for endorsing a particular instrument, brand of strings or other supplies. The types of activities and/or products for which an artist may receive income include:

  • Book publishing
  • Recording
  • Acting
  • Product endorsements (including samples of the products endorsed)
  • Personal appearances
  • Sales of artwork
  • Digital image licensing and sales
  • Music downloads
  • Ring tones
  • Performance art
  • Modeling
  • Voice-overs
  • Touring
  • Dance performances
  • Choreography
  • Lecturing
  • Teaching
  • Master classes
  • Instructional videos
  • Commissions
  • Studio and art work rentals
  • Stipends
  • Website design fees
  • Website content
  • “Fan-Based” funding such as Kickstarter
  • Publication of articles
  • Sales or rental of photographs
  • Sales of CD or DVDs
  • Sales and licensing of videos
  • Fees collected for streaming web content such instructional videos
  • Directing
  • Production
  • Consulting
  • Television and radio appearances

While not exhaustive, the list gives a sense of the many activities that produce taxable income for the artist. These types of professional income will be added to your other income, whether unearned income (such as interest, dividends, capital gains, rental income, alimony, prizes, unemployment income) or other earned income that is unrelated to your professional life (for instance, the musician who moonlights as a music store clerk or the actor who works as a waiter). These types of unearned income and unrelated earned income are handled on your income tax return in exactly the same fashion as they would be on anybody else’s income tax return. It is with your professional income that things diverge.

What Type of Income Is It, and Why?: Employee Wages vs. Contract Income

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Dedication xi
Income 1
What Can I Deduct? 17
For Actors, Actresses, Directors, Dancers and Other Performers 41
For Musicians and Singers 69
For Visual Artists 91
For Writers 109
Setting Up a Business Entity 129
The Audit Process, Recordkeeping, and Your Taxpayer Rights 137
Choosing a Tax Advisor 153
Tax Planning 157
In Closing 163
Appendix A: Internet Resources 165
Appendix B: IRS Publications and other Resources 171
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