Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Posted by Laurel Garver on 12:15 PM 14 comments
I'm contemplating some shifts in the coming year. A big one is whether I will begin to take on some freelance editing projects.

I've been hesitant to do this for one reason. Taxes. I live in a city that deals with self-employment income differently than other kinds of wages. It's a biggish step to do more than an occasional freelance job. There's an upfront cost to register any business venture in Philadelphia--a somewhat steep one.

Happily, I found an inexpensive two-hour workshop on small business taxes in the city. So I hope that once I have a handle on what's involved, I can make an educated decision.

Meanwhile, I continue to receive Editor-on-Call questions. Here's the latest:

Dear Editor-on-Call,

I said to my mother, "Because I am me." She corrected me and felt I should have said, "Because I am I." Who's right here?

Sincerely,
I gotta be me
(aka Jessica Dimuzio, author of Bark, Bark, Bark for my Park)

Dear Gotta Be,

I'd say it depends on context. The rule is that the verb "to be" acts like an equal sign and the second pronoun should be subjective (I, she, he, they), not objective (me, her, him, them).

BUT it sounds like a pretentious over-correction to say "I am I." The grammar sites I checked all had ongoing arguments. "I am me" is using the word "me" to refer to one's ego. Or at least that's how grammarians today think of the phrase. (Whether one should think of one's ego as some kind of discrete entity is a larger philosophical issue that's more my husband's area of expertise as a philosophy professor, but I digress....)

The fact is, we don't have a singular entity making pronouncements on the purity of English like the Académie Française in France. English's strength is its flexibility and skill at keeping up with the times. This is one of those cases where the rules are in flux and what was once considered correct is passing out of ordinary use.

She is right to the letter of the law; you are right to the current standard of speech patterns.

Any of you self-employed? How big a headache are tax issues? Which of the sentences Jessica mentioned sounds best to you? Do we need a guardian of pure English?

14 comments:

  1. Good luck with the business venture. My husband is self-employed, and taxes are a little bit of a pain, but not too bad...just lots of forms. But I don't believe CT has anything like Philadelphia's fee.
    As to the grammar question, would it be correct to say "Because I am myself"? I believe that would retain the correct tense without sounding arrogant. But I admit that reflexives confuse me a bit, too.

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    1. The federal stuff doesn't scare me much, but I have no experience with the state or local laws and forms. I hope this class will clear that up. "Myself" might be an adequate solution, though I often see it in places where a simple "me" is better. It's still an objective form, so again not "technically" correct.

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  2. The most annoying thing about the tax situation, I find, is all the layers of bureaucracy. You have to make sure you meet the requirements at the federal, state, and local level--which are similar but not identical. Quarterly taxes are the biggest issue. Also, the state sales/use tax is annoying, not because it's a lot of money (it isn't), but because it has a monthly deadline. I feel like I'm always filing papers for something. This is why the year I began freelancing as a business (instead of a hobby) was the first year I started using an accountant.

    There are some helpful online sites for freelancers and small business owners. This was one of the most helpful for me when I first set up:
    http://www.nase.org/LearningCenter/TaxResourceCenter.aspx

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    1. thanks for the link, Jenn! Most everyone I know who writes professionally doesn't live in the city. The business privilege license is partly why. I'm already paying quarterly taxes for the state and municipality because my employer is out of state, and I imagine adding self-employment income will make that process a bit more complex.

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  3. What an exciting thought though! If you can figure out the whole small business/tax thing!

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    1. I have some other projects in mind too, should I figure out the tax beast!

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  4. I'm self-employed and my tax issues will give you a headache ... but I live in GREECE. And they might as well be taxing my dog at the moment :o)

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    1. How many layers of government tax you? That's the issue here in the US--we have three taxing entities (federal, state, local) all with differing regulations. Oh, and they do tax my dog. Eight bucks a year for his license. The bureau of licenses and inspections probably spends more than it makes sending us bills! Silly really.

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  5. What a fascinating subject(the me vs I). Me sounds better and I like the ego argument and that will be my standard comeback now. ;)

    I moved my blog, but there is a feed problem with my old blog and the posts aren’t showing up. You can visit my new blog here.

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    1. Thanks for the heads-up about your new blog locale. I hope I haven't led folks astray with this grammar thing. It's not a sentence you hear "in the wild" very often.

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  6. I like the 'me' as well. I know liking and correct often do not equal with English grammar rules. Freelance editing does sound like an exciting next step for you. Although daunting, I'm sure you could conquer the tax laws!

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    1. Yes, liking and correct aren't always equal. I see whom disappearing from use because people don't "like" it. I shake my head sadly at pet rescue bumper stickers that say "Who rescued who?" Sigh.

      I've been approached about various freelance projects I've had to turn down because running afoul of my local laws comes with hefty penalties. But learning the laws and getting the business license would enable me to not just edit, but try some other projects too....

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  7. The "me" sounds better to me, personally. But I understand why "I" seems the correct form. Good luck with your taxes and all- hopefully that class will help with some of that!

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  8. LOL! you're so funny. "I just gotta be I" doesn't have the same ring, though... :D As for self-employment, I've done it for about seven years, and so far so good. I have an accountant who does our taxes, though, so he handles all the headachey paperwork. And my income never really goes over $20K, so I don't think it's much of an issue. But maybe PA's different? Sorry, wish I could tell you more. Other than DO IT!!! :D <3

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