Jane Recommends [Links]

March 30, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Finances, Graduate School, New Faculty, Teaching & Mentoring, Technology, Writing | Leave a comment

GayProf over at Center of Gravitas has a great post with advice for newly hired faculty.

Gina at the Academic Ladder has a great piece on avoiding writer’s block.

For those still in grad school or still paying off loans, consumerist has posted a “big ass” list of student loan resources.

Career Advice: Dancing with Kate Smith at Inside Higher Ed has some great syllabus tips.

Historiann interviewed the editor of the journal Gender and History, Ruth Mazo Karras. Both posts have excellent general advice on publishing in academic journals.

Dave over at Academic Hack has some great tips on academic branding and creating an online portfolio.

Tax Time [From the Hey Jane archives]

March 30, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Posted in Finances, Hey Jane Column | Leave a comment

Hey, Jane, It’s tax time. What academic expenses can I deduct?

Here are responses from SWS members. Responses are usually kept anonymous but the last one is from one of our own SWSers who is a tax expert so she agreed to have her professional identity revealed. We hope this helps in these perilous financial times.

There are two categories of deductions: one is professional expenses – what helps you advance as a faculty member — professional organization dues and meeting expenses, expenses incurred in doing research, books, journal subscriptions, newspaper subscriptions if you use items in teaching, fees and editorial expenses for submissions to journals, travel that adds to your professional expertise as a teacher. The other is business expenses against what you earn in royalties, lecture fees, and other non-salaried income — here I deduct 1/2 of home phone bills, internet costs, my home computer and printer and other home office supplies (you have to argue that you can’t use your office for writing), meals with people to discuss publication projects.

I would add/clarify that you get to deduct a “home office” IF it is used exclusively for your work (that part of your house then gets “depreciated”). (If you use a tax program like Turbotax, it does the calculations for you; you can deduct the tax program too.)  I think there are also some rules, that you have to “make” money in terms of your nonsalary “self-employment” some number of years, i.e., you can’t deduct computer, etc., and always spend more than you earn in your self-employment.  But these rules may have changed…But if you have a mortgage, and a home office, then this can offset quite a bit of any honorariums, etc. you have earned.

You can also deduct some travel expenses, e.g., if you rent a cabin, or go to a writing retreat center…or anything you are not reimbursed for from your department (ASA, SWS, etc.) that is professional travel.

And…for something completely wild, IF you get a Fulbright, or do a sabbatical abroad, and you are out of the country 11 months out of 12, the income earned is tax free.  the 11 out of 12 can be in two tax years, e.g., September thru July, and does not have to be continuous, and can be any country (including Mexico and Canada).  (You may have to pay taxes in the country in which you are living, but that is not common I think.)  So, even though Fulbright does not pay much, together with travel and local living expenses, and being taxfree, and if you live reasonably modestly, that can be quite doable.

Someone used to publish a book on “Taxes for Academics” or something, that carefully outlined all the regulations and what kinds of things can be included.  I used it for several years, but don’t know if  it’s available now, might be worth keyword-checking on Amazon.  Has  anyone checked the AAUP website?  They may well have some material or  references.  There are indeed many things that can be deducted, but the  home-office deduction is very easy to go wrong with.

The book is: 2005 Tax & Financial Guide For College Teachers And Other College Personnel: For Filing 2004 Tax Returns (Tax Guide for College Teachers and Other College Personnel) (Paperback) by Donald T. Williamson (Author).

Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print, and because it’s specific to 2004 filing, may be outdated in its advice as well.  My school has a copy of it on file- you may want to check with your institution’s library! Continue Reading Tax Time [From the Hey Jane archives]…

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