Sunday, December 28, 2008


The term "trade" and the term "business" are very important to writers and artisans who want to benefit relative to their income taxes. Nonetheless, the terms "trade" and "business" are undefined in Title 26 of the United States Code, otherwise known as the Internal Revenue Code. There is also no definition given in the federal regulations, an explanatory adjunct to the Internal Revenue Code. Hence, any definitions that apply have arisen in the context of court decisions. The courts have developed a couple of definitional elements. The one relates to the writers' or artisans' profit motive. The other relates to the scope of activities. I mentioned in the previous posting the notion that activities have to be on-going in order for there to be a business or trade. Additionally, there has to be a profit motive.

What is a profit motive? Plain and simple: you do your writing work or artistry because you want to make money. However, the courts have decided it isn't enough to subjectively say you want to make money to satisfy their eventual conclusion that you have the necessary motive. Just saying it doesn't cut it with them. You have to enter into the activity with the good-faith intention of making a profit. You have to believe that a profit can be made from your writing or artistry. Reasonableness has nothing to do with it. A mere hope will not cut it, though. The hope has to be accompanied with specific plans of how you are going to make money. Otherwise the writers' and artisans' assertion is not believable.

Is that all crystal clear? I know it isn't. Next time, I'll illustrate it further by telling you about the taxpayer who claimed he had created a cold fusion system that would solve all of our energy problems.

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