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Tax audit: Every freelancer’s nightmare

After going through an IRS tax audit, one writer shares tips on how to prepare and respond.

tax preparationMy writing focus has always been food, wine and travel, but all writers, regardless of their specialty, must be aware of tax fundamentals. It doesn’t matter if you sell your work to a daily newspaper, a quarterly publication or online outlets—the basics are identical. A recent audit helped me more fully understand taxes, write-offs, gray areas and the value of proper record-keeping. Here’s how mine went, plus some tips that could save you some real headaches.


It was a Thursday when I came home and found my wife looking ashen. She held in her hand a notice from the Internal Revenue Service that we were being audited. We are both self-employed: I’m a full-time freelance writer; she’s a massage therapist. To suggest that panic set in quickly is an understatement. The first thing we did was call our tax-preparation people, with whom we had worked for years—Actors Tax Prep, Inc. (whose president, David K. Rogers, was kind enough to review this article).

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