I don’t know about you, but I spend way too much on library fines every year. The sad thing is, I don’t always get to read all the books I borrow. It’s not that I don’t want to read them, but between keeping up with my genre, actual writing, revising, taking care of my family and trying to get in a few hours of sleep every couple of days, there’s not always enough time left to read the 15 “fun” books I checked out last month. It makes my husband furious.
So, while Congress is squabbling over how to trim the debt without raising taxes, I would like to officially propose that library fines be reclassified as justifiable deductions for writers. Consider it a tax cut for the creative types. Maybe I can even get the NEA to sponsor the proposal. (Wait, that might actually sabotage the whole crusade… never mind.)
Of course it goes without saying that I’ll tell you why I think this is a good idea. It should also go without saying that I will do so in list form.
1. If the books in question are used for research and a writer needs the research materials for longer than the library will allow, isn’t the fine actually more of an extended rental on the books? It’s not like we’re going to keep them forever. And even if we do, eventually the fine will surpass the value of the book and then, at least at our library, you can swap out the replacement fee for the fine and tada: instant tax write off. Who knows… maybe allowing the fines to be written off will encourage more writers to return the books closer to the date they were due. It could happen.
2. Writers write. It’s what we do. And sometimes, we get lost in the worlds we create only to be snapped back into reality. It’s hard to keep both worlds straight without a few things slipping through the cracks. I would even go so far as to say writers deserve hazard pay. Yep. I said it. We should be getting hazard pay on top of the money we don’t make until we sell… hmmm. Doesn’t look like hazard pay is an option. Surely allowing library fines to be tax deductible is a reasonable compensation alternative.
3. Since purchasing books within the genre I write is a qualified deduction, then why can’t the fine be? Truth of the matter is, there are months when I spend less on books than I do on fines, so it’s a win for everyone. The government issues me a lower deduction, thus getting to keep more of my money, and I have more room on my bookshelves.
4. On that note I present my final reason why library fines should be classified as a tax deduction. This is where the spouses and children of writers will get behind the movement. If library fines are tax deductible, I predict more and more writers will use libraries to get a bulk of their reading materials. (You, in the back, jumping up and down to argue that writers are already a large portion of library patrons… yeah, you. Zip it! I’m doing this for you.) So, back to my point: if more writers are checking out and eventually returning library books, perhaps we can finally get a handle on an ugly illness sweeping through the land: BOOK HORDING. First it was plain horders, now there’s a show about animal hording. It’s just a matter of time before the reality lens turns it’s intrusive eye on the private lives of writers. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Look around your house and then raise your hand if you have any one of the following:
o A stack of books higher than ten volumes high;
o Shelves so crammed full of WIP and your prized possessions that it’s almost impossible to pull one book out without the rest toppling down on you;
o Books piled in any height in the front or sides of the aforementioned bookcase, creating a literary moat around your leaning tower of prose;
o A nightstand with so many books in your TBR pile that you have to get a clock that projects its read out onto the ceiling just so you can see what time it is;
o A pathway from your office door to your desk with stacks of books, Writer’s Digest past issues you can’t possibly think of getting rid of.
So that’s it. That’s my proposal for why library fines should be classified as justifiable tax deductions. Feel free to circulate this to your members of Congress and remember, no matter what cause you’re fighting for, real or literal, BE PASSIONATE about it!