Naked Truth About Taxes

So I got my income tax refund in the mail today. For us “freelancers” this is a somewhat anti-climatic event. Bound by the infamous 1099 MISC form, we enjoy no deductions throughout the year, keeping every penny we earned and spending it like a drunken sailor. After being off the IRS radar for 12 months, tax time finally comes around and we’re expected to write a check. Horrors!! You mean I have to PAY TAX on that income?? This is an outrage!! 😆

My tax process always amuses me. I walk into my accountant’s office (“my accountant” being a guy named Chris who I see once a year in the first week of April for a total of 15 minutes) and hand him a bunch of art school income statements held together with a paper clip. I tell him, “Knock yourself out, baby!”. Then I pick it up the next day. I write a check, then receive a check a mere three weeks later, in a brief money exchange with the government.

As a woman who makes her living in the nude, it occurred to me that I’m well-suited to carrying out an effective tax protest, and I don’t mean Grover Norquist style. I was thinking more in the tradition of Lady Godiva, the 11th century English noblewoman who had no shame, no fear, and stuck to her principles. She was a badass medieval babe.

The residents of Coventry were drowning in oppressive taxes, and the greedy, powerful man behind those taxes was none other than Lady Godiva’s husband, Leofric, the Lord of Coventry. More like the “slumlord” of Coventry. A woman of the people, Lady Godiva implored her husband to relieve the tax burden of the citizens of Coventry. According to legend, Leofric agreed to do so only if Lady Godiva would ride naked horseback through the streets of town, in midday. If his strategy was to call her bluff, then Leofric had it all wrong. Not one to back down from a dare, Lady Godiva said “You’re on, buddy!”, and made her famous ride.

Leofric kept his word, and then some. All taxes were abolished in Coventry from then on. Lady Godiva not only triumphed over her husband, but proved something else in the process: nudity works! 🙂

This is John Collier’s Lady Godiva:

lady_godiva_by_john_collier

16 thoughts on “Naked Truth About Taxes

  1. lkwinter says:

    I would have to say nudity works, yes…for pretty women with nice bodies. The rest of the general public I would hope to go ahead leave their clothes on.

    : )

  2. Ron says:

    Looks like the nude models of Paris protested in the nude to protest low wages there. Wonder how that would go in New York? http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSTRE4BE59V20081215

    • artmodel says:

      Ron,

      Yeah, I read that story back in December. Don’t know if they ever got their demands.

      As far as how that would go in New York? It never would. Art models here are the absolute worst in terms of solidarity and banding together for a common purpose. You can’t get even TWO New York City art models to support each other, let alone a group of 40 or 50. Not in a million years.

      Claudia

  3. dougrogers says:

    A comic book artist I used to know used to take deductions for the clothes he bought – as he used the items in his drawings.

    • artmodel says:

      doug,

      It’s funny you brought that up. The very first time I went to my accountant for taxes I told him I was a model. So he naturally assumed I could deduct clothing expenses. I grinned and explained that I was a NUDE art model. He gulped, stared at me, and said “Oh. Ok” 😉

      Claudia

  4. Stephen says:

    It is interesting to me how we take taxes for granted. I read about the hue and cry in England in 1816 – massive petitions and agro in parliament. Why? Because chancellor of the exchequer, a guy called Vansittart, wanted to continue to levy income taxes to maintain the British armies abroad. He was eventually forced to back down and, for a while at least, there was no income tax. I guess it takes a lot of co-ordinated energy including the outrageous acts of heroes and heroines to make a difference.

    Heh heh Claudia – an ‘interesting day’ for your accountant. As a professional he should have been able to be a little creative about clothing expenses. I guess he suffered a cerebral short circuit.

    • artmodel says:

      Stephen,

      Taxes have been the source of so many civil protests and uprisings it would take volumes of books to cover them all. I was a history major in college and I remember so many events involving taxes, much like the one you described. Bitching about taxes might be civilization’s oldest pastime!

      Yeah, my accountant was slightly taken aback that day 😉 But he’s a good sport and a sweetheart of a guy.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Claudia

  5. Sullivan says:

    Hi Claudia,
    I found your blog through Fred’s new blog.
    As a sometime model myself, I enjoy very much what you share here, and am in agreement about the complete lack of any solidarity among models.
    I would love to see your tax protest!

    • artmodel says:

      Sullivan,

      Hi and welcome!! I’m honored to get a referral from Fred’s blog.

      Thanks for your comments and compliments. I wish I was wrong about the lack of art model solidarity, but it’s all-too-true as you know.

      I’m not sure if my tax protest would be as good as Lady Godiva’s, but I could certainly try!

      Hope you keep visiting Museworthy 🙂

      Claudia

  6. fredh1 says:

    The best thing about being self-employed is that you should be able to deduct many of your regular expenses as business expenses. You may want to run these things by your accountant, but I think you could make a case for a lot of things. Since your body is the tool of your trade, deductible expenses should include yoga classes, hairstyling, or anything related to fitness or maintenance of appearance. Meals and snacks when you’re on the job may be deductible. Do the occasional costume class and you can deduct clothing expenses. Your blog is in part advertising for your business, so expenses related to that, including computer and camera expenses, may be justifiable expenses. If you keep a home office for business purposes you may be able to claim a percentage of your rent and utilities. You need to keep good records and do a Schedule C.

    • artmodel says:

      Fred,

      Yes, that is definitely one of the advantages of being self-employed. My accountant and I deduct things like my transportation expenses, meals, etc. I have told him about yoga classes and the like but he says those are not deductible. (?) I think it’s legitimate, but I don’t ask questions.

      Tax season is over, thank god. Now we can relax until next April!

      Claudia

  7. CBrown says:

    Hey Claudia,

    Do you make quarterly tax payments? Most of my income is MISC-1099, too, and a year or two ago I started paying quarterly. It sucks to be sending a portion of your already-meager income to the government, but it helps out a lot when April 15 comes around.

    Also, I’m not an expert, but I really really bet that those yoga classes would be deductible for you.

    CBrown

    • artmodel says:

      CBrown,

      I didn’t know you can make quarterly payments. That’s interesting, thanks! I might look into that.

      For some reason my accountant always nixes the yoga/exercise class deduction idea. I don’t know why exactly. Seems legitimate to me. But like you, I’m not an expert.

      Thanks for the tips and for commenting.

      Claudia

      • CBrown says:

        Well, I know lots of actors and dancers, and I’m sure they all deduct such expenses. I bet professional athletes and commercial models do, too. Once I read about a stripper who successfully deducted her breast implants! So I don’t think it’s unreasonable that a artist model could deduct physical fitness expenses.

        As for quarterly payments, if you’re freelance and get MISC 1099 income, you’re SUPPOSED to file them! One time a tax expert explained it to me like this: the government is able to collect the taxes of people with ‘normal’ jobs on a rolling basis through withholding, and they want to do the same with freelance income. They don’t want you to take that money and put it in a savings account or invest it or whatever, earn interest on it, and then only pay taxes on the original amount. Which is baloney, but that’s the rationale. The benefit for you is that you don’t get to the end of the year and have that big chunk of money that you owe, that everyone else has had withheld as they went.

        As I said, I’m no expert, but maybe you need to shop around for a new accountant. Especially if he’s never told you to make quarterly payments. There are accountants around who are more familiar with jobs in the arts. And there are also lots who are just unscrupulous and are willing to deduct anything and everything!

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