Rick, the writer, did have a viable business, according to the Tax Court; his writing activity was not a hobby.
What made the United States Tax Court conclude that he was in the business of writing?
First off, the court believed Rick conducted aspects of his writing in a businesslike way. He hired agents to help him negotiate prices for the sale of his screenplays.
He had a long history as writer, with publishing credits and success in the endeavor. Because he had worked in the field for such a long time, he had numerous contacts. Furthermore, he devoted a lot of time and energy to writing.
One of the biggest factors, though, had to be that he didn't have any income from many other sources to speak of. This meant that he and his wife didn't derive a great deal of tax benefit by claiming the loss he incurred.
The court also recognized that writing has a precarious nature, especially as relates to the entertainment industry.
Now, how did Rick fare in deducting the expenses he said were for writing?