Last updated 3/10/17
I take a certain amount of pride in the fact that I still do my taxes myself, despite the convoluted mess full-timing can make of it.
To this day I use TurboTax to file, traditionally the ‘Home & Business’ edition for small business owners or sole-proprietorships. In 2017 (for the 2016 tax year) TurboTax switched things up and I used the ‘Self-Employed’ package instead ($89.99 for federal). I’m sure other programs work fine too, this is just the one I use.
Taxes have actually gotten easier for me over the years as I work-camp less and work for myself more. The most complicated tax year I had on the road was 2014. The below post was the original article written in early 2015, and goes into detail about how I handled having three W-2s from three different states, two 1099-MISCs for two different businesses, and a 1099-G.
After this post are links to everything I’ve written about taxes, all conveniently gathered in one place for your reading pleasure. Well, maybe not “pleasure” per-say, this is taxes we’re talking about. But it should at least be informative.
* * *
I ran a marathon on Monday that ran into yesterday. An, aching, exhausting seven hour ordeal that had it’s ups and downs, triumphs and despairs, there were even some tears.
No, not like a running marathon, I’m talking about taxes.
I must be a glutton for punishment, because I’m still doing my taxes myself, three tax years into this full-timing thing. Every year I keep thinking I’ll break down and pay someone to do it for me, and then I think of the time spent finding the correct qualified person, having to send all of the information to them, and being on hand while they fill in in the forms to answer questions, and I just can’t summon the effort.
Which is funny really, because as soon as I start filing them I immediately remember how much I hate doing taxes, but by then it’s too late. If I give in half-way through, then all of that toil and struggle would be for naught. The world narrows down to this one task, and I cannot rest until I see the tax beast vanquished.
I’m probably being a little melodramatic. You’re probably more interested in the actual facts of how to file taxes as a working age full-time RVer.
Disclaimer: I’m by no stretch of the imagination qualified to give official advice on filing taxes. Herein lies my personal experience, your mileage may vary. Please seek assistance from an accountant if you’re confused or unsure about some aspect of your own tax situation.
My situation is not as complicated as some people’s, I had a total of seven tax items to deal with. Three W-2’s from jobs in three different states – Kansas (my last paycheck from the 2013 Amazon season fell into my bank account in the first week of 2014), Utah (Zion Mountain Ranch), and Nevada. (Amazon – Fernley). I had two 1099-MISC forms, one from the Georgia Renaissance Festival for my acting work, and one from Amazon for my affiliate income earned through IO. I also had a 1099-G form from Kansas, something to do with the refund I got from the state for the 2013 tax year. The seventh piece of paper was from Wells Fargo for the interest I earned in my savings account. Because it was only $2 and some change, I did not need to report it.
So I had to file Federal and for three states – KS, UT, and GA. NV, and SD (my “home” state) have no income tax, so no paperwork was needed for them (Pick a non-income tax state for your domicile state if you’re still working when you hit the road, it helps!). I used TurboTax to file, and the cost with sales tax for the whole process was $202 and change: $37 for each state, and $80 for the basic + business software.
The W-2’s are pretty painless to deal with, you should be use to dealing with those from stationary living. You enter them in, the feds demand their share, the state you worked in demands it’s share, and that’s about it. But I always take 0 exemptions when I’m filling out the tax paperwork for a new job, so that the maximum amount of money gets deducted from each paycheck I make, more than I should be paying. So I always end up getting money back from my W-2 jobs at the end of the year.
The reason why I do this is the 1099-MISC’s and other miscellaneous income I make. Absolutely no taxes get deducted from that income. That doesn’t mean I get away without paying taxes on that money, but because I always end up having paid too much in taxes from the W-2 jobs, that extra money makes up for the taxes I didn’t pay for the contractor positions and business income, so it evens out in the end.
The 1099-MISC’s are a little more challenging. Interstellar Orchard is considered a business to the IRS (which is why I have the business software), and the 1099-MISC from Amazon gets applied to that business. I also report the money I make through PayPal donations. Then I get to deduct the business expenses from my total earnings for the year (for IO that’s the domain name cost and web hosting fees) – I keep a spreadsheet updated with all of this information for IO in case I ever get audited, so I can prove my numbers.
After I deduct expenses, the total profit is what I owe taxes on. Since my business is officially headquartered in South Dakota (same address as my home address since it’s a sole-proprietorship), I only owe federal taxes on blog income – although some states can be really prickly about this if you’re in them when you’re making that money. Georgia for instance tried to claim a percentage of my IO earnings even though I filed in that state (and all states) as a nonresident. Utah was the exact opposite – they were only concerned with my Zion job earnings and there were hardly any questions pertaining to other earnings for the year.
The contract job with the renaissance festival in Georgia actually turned out to be the hardest thing to deal with. That 1099-MISC sort of forced me to create a second “business” of ‘Acting’, and the business expenses for fuel and costume supplies got convoluted. It really didn’t work correctly under the Business category that I use for IO so I had to delete it and start over in the Personal section of income which has a separate 1099-MISC section for reporting in – blegh.
But finally, at noon yesterday, the deed was done. Like always, while I hate doing taxes when I’m in the process of doing taxes, as soon as I’m done I feel very accomplished and proud of myself. Seven hours including meals and breaks, it seems like forever when you’re wading around in it, but after the finish line it doesn’t seem like much time at all. A few extra hours a year spent paying my dues in the form of more complicated taxes in exchange for the freedom to roam. Heck, I’ll take that any day – well, any day after tax day is over, anyhow.
* * *
Other tax related links:
- RVing and Taxes – The 2012 tax season, my first year filing taxes as an RVer.
- It’s That Time Again – The 2015 tax season, with introduction of the 1095-A form for those getting ACA health insurance from the Marketplace.
- Filing Taxes on a Blog – A look at how I file taxes for Interstellar Orchard and related e-books (2016 tax season).
Have tax related links to share with younger full-timers? You know what to do!
* * *
Thank you for doing your usual Amazon shopping using my affiliate link.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy
This post should have been a travelogue about my journey up the coast of Oregon and Washington to the Olympic Peninsula (don’t worry, it’s still coming!) but a recent development with my mail forwarding company has thrown life into chaos the past two days. On Tuesday the 24th I first heard whispers that My Dakota…Read More
It’s getting to be that time of year again. This past weekend the heat wave finally broke in the Badlands and while highs are still in the upper 70’s and low 80’s, the air definitely holds the feel of early fall now. With the change in season has come an influx in e-mails asking about…Read More
One of the most important questions you’ll ask yourself early on when shopping for an RV, before you even get to brand or floorplan, is what size is right for you – and it’s not an easy question to answer. Touring an RV on a dealer’s lot for ten minutes is not the same as…Read More