Being a writer and editor is complicated, and it gets even more complicated at income tax time.
Filling in the return for my freelance writing and editing work takes weeks rather than days.
One of the most confusing things is choosing the “industry code” for my work. The Business and Professional Income Tax Guide, provided so thoughtfully by the Canada Revenue Agency, has a list of industries four pages long, two columns per page. Hundreds of the major industries in Canada are itemized. “Editor” is not listed. “Hunting and trapping” is listed. “On-line financial and investment advice” is an industry. (And I had thought those Nigerian investment opportunities were a scam.) “Lessors of Non-Financial Intangible Assets (Except Copyright Works)” is an industry. So is “Other Personal Services (including On-line psychic, escorts, dating, party planning, personal shopping.” So is “Internet Publishing and Broadcasting, and Web Search Portals (including online gambling and pornography).” So are “Horse Race Tracks” and “Gambling Industries.”
“Writer” appeared for first time in the 2011 edition of the Guide, sharing an industry code with “Independent Artists and Performers”; “writer” is an improvement on the previous, more restrictive term, “authors” (writers of books). I suppose that is some recognition – but a third of an industry code is not a lot in comparison to some other industries. After all, “Scenic and Sightseeing Transportation” alone was granted three industry codes.
It makes me wonder. Why are psychics and escorts and pornographers worthy of official recognition by the Canadian government as legitimate, respectable professions, but editors are not?
It’s not that there are not enough of us. There are 1600 members in the Editors’ Association of Canada, and many more editors who are not members (probably because they can’t afford the membership fees).
I guess maybe that’s the point. The Canada Revenue Agency is only interested in people who make money that can be taxed, and writers and editors don’t make enough money to be noticed – certainly not as much as psychics and pornographers.
But, even if they don’t get much recognition, official or financial, I am still convinced writers and editors play an important role.
If you don’t think writers and editors are very important, turn on a late night talk show and listen to “a brilliant actress with a great sense of comedic timing” try to make conversation without a writer feeding her lines. Or tune in to the Academy Awards and listen to “the best actor of the year” deliver a speech he wrote himself.