Monday, November 15, 2010

Can I deduct my slot machine losses?

‘Tis the season! No, not that season.

This time of year always gets me thinking about springtime, and not just because I live in Arizona where winter is like spring in the rest of the country.

No, this time of year signals that the time for accumulating tax deductions for your writing business is coming to an end. Better hurry! Buy while you can! Stimulate that economy and keep your receipts.

I am fortunate that my professional writing from my educator years continues to generate royalties. I have had a Schedule C for my own business of writing and consulting for many decades. But, if you don’t, this should be the year to start. You need to treat your writing business like a business. That means taxes.

I bought a new computer this tax year. Deduction. I bought a new printer this tax year. Deduction. I bought lots of paper and ink cartridges for that printer. Deduction. I lost some money in the slot machines while I did some research for my culinary mystery, Pastabilities, at a local Indian casino. Deduction?

Well, no. I mean, you could try, but really! What would you tell an agent of the federal government that could possibly justify claiming $20 in losses? I asked questions of a security guard about a character of mine taking pictures and what would happen. I studied the “eye in the sky” cameras from the floor of the casino to note their frequency. I quizzed the two women gatekeepers at the poker room about whether or not there is a secret, high rollers room.

Playing the slots (and losing) is pretty straightforward. No background knowledge needed.

But Keno is impossible to understand. Only in the interest of research, I sat in the Keno ball-picking area to observe. If I had my amateur sleuth, Alli, lose at Keno, could I deduct those losses? Nah.

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