I am a singer/songwriter, band member.... creative and basically self-employed. Every year at about this time I used to scramble around in a panic looking for any receipts and estimating mileage for my taxes... well... not really, it was generally in April. After crossing some magic threshold into adulthood (turning 35 or something like that) I started going to one of the "companies" to get my taxes done... you know, instant refunds, etc. I thought it was great. They slammed all the info I gave them into a computer and presto!... a refund in my hot little hands within a few days. That process did put me back a couple of hundred bills each year but in my vast experience, it seemed pretty normal.
SIDE NOTE:(Dave S. ( HTTP://WWW.GOLDRECORDMUSIC.COM ) from our artist development company always tells me musicians have no business sense. Well in this case I will prove him wrong (hehe). I am sharing my 2005 and 2006 very business-like tax experiences to save you some cash and prove that SOME of us creative types do have SOME sort of business accumen.)
I don't know how it came about, but I got into this conversation about getting my taxes done. You know, my annual experience of waiting until the last minute, paying about $300, and getting a check within a few days. Upon recommendation, I went to a CPA. YES, CPA, certified public accountant... and NO, CPA doesn't HAVE to be expensive. FYI... it was NOT like a visit to the dentist. Last year and last week, my tax preparation cost me LESS than half of what I had paid at that place you see all the tv commercials about. Another cool thing? I got more money back because the CPA UNDERSTOOD how to find deductions for us self-employed, musical, creative types. What I learned is that MOST people are NOT self-employed, (even on a part-time basis) so it may be a good idea to see a tax expert so you can get the most back from Uncle Sam. Some people don't realize that you can deduct things like the cost of stage clothing, mileage to and from shows, office supplies like paper and printer ink, guitar strings, stage props, batteries, sound costs, your web cost, etc.
The ONLY down side to using my CPA is that I had to a couple of weeks to get my refund check back. (The CPA explained to me that she didn't offer instant refunds because she felt it cost the customer so much.) In the end, my visit to my CPA cost me $100.00 (1/3 of what I used to pay). I'll be getting my refund in about a week now and I have the peace of mind of knowing that I'm probably not going to set off any red flags that might cause an audit or something and that I am getting the full benefit of all of my deductible expenses (us musicians have more than you would think).
This is NOT a commercial but I have had a VERY good experience with using a CPA. I suppose I could do my own taxes to save money (yeah right) but that won't happen and what does it matter as I'm not paying through the nose anymore at one of those franchised places. From my experience, I would recommend that you don't put off your taxes this year, that you stay away from those heavily advertised places (guess who's paying for that advertising), and that you call a good CPA. Just try it once.
If you are in the Akron/Canton/Cleveland area, call Sue Comko at(330) 940-3950 or if you live out of state, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She's got my business for life. And it's painless... I promise.
PS... she REALLY DID come out and see my band!
Julie Johnson- AH HAH!