Here are a list of interview questions you can ask author Carol Topp, CPA in a radio or podcast interview.
To schedule Carol for an interview on your show, please contact her here.
To listen to Carol’s interviews on radio and podcasts, click here.
You may also use these questions on your blog and promote Carol as your guest blogger. Just give her credit, include the website (TaxesForWriters.com), and let Carol know so she can pop by your blog with any follow up comments.
Interview Questions for Carol Topp, CPA
Business Tips and Taxes for Writers
You’re an author and an accountant; that’s not a unusual combination. How did that come about?
I had a desire to communicate confusing issues such as taxes and business information in a clear way. I had started writing articles and books for nonprofit organizations seeking to obtain tax exempt status with the IRS. Publisher Felice Gerwitz of Media Angels was familiar with my work for nonprofits and contacted me about writing a book for her series, Information in a Nutshell. She is a published author as well as a publisher and leaned the hard way about the business and tax side of being a writer. Felice wanted to create a book for writers to help them avoid some of the mistakes she made and asked me to write it from the CPA’s perspective.
Many writers have always wanted to write. Is that true for you?
Well, not really, but I didn’t grow up saying I wanted to be an accountant either! But I always had a desire to communicate clearly. One of my first published works was for a professional journal that I wrote while I was working for the US Navy. I wrote an article telling government contractors how to create clear and understandable proposals to the Navy. Then when I started working as a CPA, I found myself explaining the IRS lingo to my clients.
Why write a book about business tips and taxes for writers?
Writing is a very flexible profession that can start a s a hobby and grow into a full time business or even a corporation. Writers can have slow success, or be an overnight sensation. Either way, they need clear, concise information that pertains to their unique situations.
Are there special tax breaks for writers?
Well, there is no line item on the Form 1040 labeled tax credit for writers (we wish there were!), but there are plenty of tax deductions and situations that writers need to know about such as the business use of the home, deductions for start up expenses and research expenses.
Is the book useful for other creative people?
The book, Business Tips and Taxes for Writers, can be helpful for freelancers in many professions, authors under contract, self publishers, editors a, ghost writers and bloggers. Many of the issues I address such as inventory, sales tax, record keeping apply to many small business owners or self-employed freelancers.
How does the IRS see authors?
The IRS could classify an author as a hobbyist, a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation. Or even as a nonprofit organization, in some situations. It depends on the facts and circumstances of each unique situation. The book covers all these possible business structures and explains the tax implications of each alternative.
What kind of situations are red flags to the IRS?
The IRS is looking at abuses of the business use of the home deduction. They also get suspicious if a business has losses in 3 out of the last 5 years or if an S corporation officer-owner does not take a reasonable salary from the corporation. There are a few more red flags such as using the incorrect form for reporting royalties or the incorrect line for expenses that could trip up an author.
What kind of business structure is best for a writer?
The one that allows the writer to legally pay the least amount in taxes, but fits the life of the owner and the future goals of the business. It can be a complicated decision with many issues to consider. Most writers start out as hobbyists and progress to sole proprietors when they make a profit. They might consider forming a corporation if they start doing very well financially. I discuss when to consider various business structure, including the advantages and disadvantages of each in the book.
I’ve heard of LLC status. Should writers consider LLC status?
LLC status stands for limited liability company status and it limits the liability of the writer-owner to only the assets in the business and not his or her personal assets. I discuss in the book the many advantages of LLC status for a writer, although it is not needed by everyone and comes with some paperwork and fees.
When should a writer hire a CPA (Certified Public Accountant)?
When ever they need business or tax advice. Information that is too little or too late can be harmful to the writer’s business success. Tax forms and IRS language can be confusing, so CPAs serve as an interpreter between the IRS and an author. Definitely hire a CPA to represent you if you ever receive a letter from the IRS and I strongly recommend that you have a CPA prepare your business tax return. But CPAs can also serve as business coaches and mentors, sharing their wealth of experience with small business owners.
What services do you provide to writers?
I offer private consulting via telephone on any issue or question a writer might have. The book, Business Tips and Taxes for Writers, is a good start, but sometimes an author has a unique situation that needs to be discussed more fully, so a phone consultation is a popular option. I also evaluate business plans to help a writer avoid potential pitfalls and can help a writer set up a record keeping system such as QuickBooks that is easy to use.
I also am available to speak to writers groups and conferences or on a podcast or webinar. The podcast and webinars are an easy way for me to talk to a group of writers on a variety of topics My website, TaxesForWriters.com, has a list of topics we can discuss.
How can a writer contact you?