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State of the Art: Writeoffs? Right on!

The designer's guide to staying out of tax jail By Dave Nagel
It's tax deduction time in the Nagel household. This year, instead of fathering new children to keep down my annual bill to the government, I've decided to do something different--go out and purchase a bunch of great new toys, which, coincidentally, fulfill some of my home office needs, and therefore my tax-deduction needs. Whether I will enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed my current children has yet to be seen. They should be cheaper to maintain. At the very least, they should help to keep me out of IRS jail for another year....

Or so I hope.

At any rate, if I go down, I'm having some fun on the way. See, I've been a very naughty man over the last year, and I have a whole lot of deductible spending to do before I've atoned for my fiscal sins (those being chiefly related to earning inordinate amounts of wealth through my stake in this publishing empire).

I've gotten off to a bit of a slower start than I would have liked, since, over the last week and a half or so, I've been bed-ridden with a mysterious, flu-like illness. Possibly the flu itself. It's been a particularly nasty illness, especially painful when I'm smoking my rather expensive cigars, and it's kept me from fulfilling many of my editorial duties here on this site recently. Nevertheless, despite the odds against me, during this period I did manage occasionally to drag myself out of my death bed, into the richly appointed driver's seat of my luxury sedan and down to a dozen or so local shopping/entertainment centers to do some preliminary scouting, dining and socializing, as well as a doctor-recommended amount of medicinally efficacious alcohol consumption.

I bring all of this up because I'm sure that you, my readers, are in a similar situation--stuck with wads of cash and facing some serious jail time if you can't figure out a legitimate way to unload it before the end of the year. So I thought I'd share with you some of my ideas for unburdening yourself from this wealth and, at the same time, getting something back for it, rather than seeing it go to the government, where it will just be wasted on tax breaks for wealthy publishing barons like myself. Of course, you should not consider this tax advice. If you're anything like me, you'll get your personal assistant to run your list by your staff of accountants before committing to anything.

Now, thusfar, I haven't actually purchased much that would be of interest to you--mostly along the lines of furnishings and tasteful ecoutrements. But I have managed to find an awful lot of nifty things that I will be purchasing. I''ll share some of the computer-related items with you now, but not all of them, as I don't want to appear too greedy. Also, I just want to cover some of the major categories relevant to you.

First, everybody needs a new computer at the end of the year. The machine you bought four months ago is starting to feel a bit ... I don't know ... last season. Here I'm going to have to recommend the Macintosh G4 867. In terms of price and performance, it's all there. The lower-end model right now lacks the cache and other performance features of the higher-end machines, but this mid-range model, while lacking the second processor of the high-end model, comes furnished with a DVD burner and all the software you need to make your own DVDs. Without a doubt, this is the model you want right now. It should at least tide you over until the G5s are released in January. (Or so the rumor goes.) Apple is at http://www.apple.com.

Why not a Windows-based PC? I don't know. If you really want one, get one. But, I'm telling you, for designers, the Mac is the way to go. The workflow is all there. There's better software. Color is better. It's all subjective, of course. If you absolutely must buy a PC, get an Athlon workstation. They're so much faster than Pentiums.

As far as software goes, this is a tougher call for me. Most of you are on Macs, and, as you are well aware, the Mac is in a transitional period. The platform is moving toward OS X, but the software from third-party developers is moving a bit more slowly than we'd all like. Oh, it'll all be here in a few months, but how does this help you in this tax-writeoff season? Go with what suits your needs for now; upgrades to OS X versions should be relatively affordable when they arrive. Here are your best bets when it comes to software for OS X at this precise moment:

And now let's talk about peripherals.

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