Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Business of Business is Baffling

I've sold stuff at local fairs and cons for the past few years. But even the IRS doesn't really care about my 10 dollars in profit from a once-a-year event, so despite having a sales license, I've never had to worry much about taxes.

Now, of course, I'm hoping to make a real go of things. At this point "independent artist" is the only career path really open to me, and I'd like to have more income than disability allows someday.* And that means...paperwork (insert sound of horrified screaming audience).

The thing is, I have no idea WHAT paperwork I should even be filing. I'm not operating on a business-business level at the moment--no office, it's not my main source of income (or any source of income, yet), and just basically no businessy aspect at all except that I'm hoping, someday, to make some money from it. At this point, it's absolutely hobby level. I'd be happy just to not be losing money from point of view of supplies and Etsy posting and such (I'm arting no matter what. A break-even point of income would be nice) and that is pretty much the taxable definition of hobby. If and when I make any money at this, noting it on my main taxes would mostly be a hassle. And appears to involve keeping records. I don't even know what kind of records to keep.

I've found a fair number of resources online, but they're all written in the language of people who pretty much know what they're talking about. "When considering a LLP, remember to weigh the cost/benefit analysis of your projected earned income against..." Arrrgh. It's all English, and yet I cannot understand it.

Complicating matters more is that I am on disability, and therefor have all sorts of tax and income rules that most people don't,so the usual generic guidelines don't help. There are, fortunately, groups I can call to ask for help. Unfortunately, one of those groups has to be my local SSDI office. When I asked them about income last time, they said, and I quote "Don't make more than 400 bucks a month, and don't worry about it." Which advice, if I follow it, leaves me in a perverse state of hoping to not do very well.

What I really want is a guide that says "If you make X amount, file with form 123!" But apparently that is way too simple for the fine minds at the tax office.

Sigh. I like working with my hands, but not to fill out paperwork. Anyone have any tips?

*Yes! My secret is out! I am a gimpy twitch! Don't worry, it will not be the main subject of this blog.

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