“What Does Daddy Do?” By Chris Zito

This morning as my wife was walking out the door with Vince I told her I was going upstairs to write. Vince looked up at me with a serious expression and asked, “Are you a writer, Daddy?”

“Yes.” I replied wondering what made him ask, “Daddy’s a writer.”
“Oh.” And out the door he went.

It was one of those moments where a little kid goes on with his day and the father is left with the wheels turning and turning.

“Why did he ask me that?” He’s probably noticed I rarely seem to leave the house to go to work anymore, except around bedtime. That’s a big change from my morning radio schedule when Daddy was never home when he woke up, but showed up right after lunch.  I wonder if Vince misses us having the same bedtime?

“Does he even know what a writer is?” I’m guessing he’s too young to understand the difference between a published author and a blogger like myself, but I have been a writer. I’ve been writing jokes for my act for thirty years (Okay, on and off. There have been some droughts. Believe me, no one is sicker of my act than me!).  I’ve written scripts for corporate films, published a weekly newspaper column, and written thank yous at the prodding of my always courteous wife.

The real answer lies on line A of my Schedule C (profit or loss from business). Does it say “writer?”   Anyone reading this who has ever gotten a 1099 form has worked that Schedule C. The rules about deductions have tightened up.
Over the years I’ve deducted dry cleaning, haircuts, and a percentage of the square footage of my home: all legal deductions at the time. My accountant drew the line when I tried to deduct all the money I spent on coffee because, as I pointed out to him, I had to be awake to perform. No dice.

Line A of my Schedule C has read “Comedian/Actor” the last two years, with my main income coming from radio.  But something will have to change next year. I took a bath those last two years with the stand up comedy. I was only doing enough to stay in the game, but I was spending plenty to do it. The IRS only allows a loss on the Schedule C for two years in a row before you either have to show a profit or prove you’ve moved onto something else. After the second year the feds don’t consider anything you’re losing money at a profession. It’s now a hobby. This is America, dammit, and a man can have any legal hobby he wants. He just can’t use it to save money on his taxes.

So, no, Vince. Daddy is not really a writer. And if he doesn’t make a lot more money telling jokes in 2010, he won’t be a comedian either!

Thanks for reading. Tell your pals.
Chris Zito

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2 Responses

  1. I say I’m a writer so that people don’t think of me as “just” a mom. 🙂

  2. By the IRS definition, I now understand my musicianship is a hobby. Thanks for the clarification, I was wondering why some venues didn’t want to pay me ! ;^))

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