To enter hobby income and expenses in TurboTax please follow these steps:
The IRS doesn't allow you to deduct hobby expenses directly from hobby income. Instead, you can deduct expenses as an itemized deduction subject to 2% of your adjusted gross income. Also, the amount that you claim as an expense cannot be greater than your income from the hobby. In other words, your hobby cannot generate a loss.
Taxpayers can choose to itemize expenses on their tax returns or take the standard allowable deduction. Hobby expenses can only be deducted if you itemize your deductions.
Thanks for the info, but I need to know what a "hobby" is...I am writing a book and I would like to deduct expenses, but I don't know if I'll ever make money at it. I mean, I might, but I don't know if I will. Isn't there some sort of "a business (as opposed to a hobby) has to make money three years out of five" rule?
Here is a link to IRS.gov. On this page are some further links to information about hobby and business.
The 3 out of 5 year "rule" you are referring to, is that if in 3 years out of 5, the activity shows a profit, there is a presumption the activity is engaged in for profit. (for horses it is a 7 year window). That would allow the activity to be treated as a business, and losses from that business would be allowed to offset other income, generate a net operating loss, etc.
26 USC Section 183 is the governing law as to whether an activity is engaged in for profit.
The IRS makes a critical distinction between authors and hobbyists. Authors are trying to make a living selling their writing. You are deemed to be a professional if you are trying to make a profit in the last 2 of 5 years. So the intent to make a profit is important.
If you are in the business of being an author:
Royalties from copyrights, patents, and oil, gas, and mineral properties are taxable as ordinary income.
In most cases, you report royalties in Part I of Schedule E (Form 1040).
However, if you hold an operating oil, gas, or mineral interest or are in business as a self-employed writer, inventor, artist, etc., report your income and expenses on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040). This can be done using TT Self Employed.
If it is a hobby where you don't intend to make a living then you report the income as hobby income.
If you don't have any other itemized deductions, TurboTax will deduct the greater of the standard deduction or itemized deductions. TurboTax will choose the one that lowers your overall tax liability.