Tax Treatment of Prepublication Expenses of Authors and Publishers

This Note analyzes the tax treatment of prepublication costs. Part I presents the analytic framework of the business expense/ capital expenditure distinction and searches for practical, income- reflecting criteria that achieve theoretically correct results. Part II covers the historic treatment of prepublication expenditures, concluding that neither the courts nor the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have been consistent in their approach and that both have largely ignored the income-reflecting goals outlined in Part I. Part III applies the income-reflecting approach in order to develop a principled method of examining the tax consequences of various prepublication expenses.