An excuse to exchange imacs
September 21, 2006 11:05 AM   Subscribe

How can I convince my accountant and my tax inspectors that I truly do need to buy a new 24" iMac in order to continue being a productive member of society? Because I don't. Please help me lie.

Truth is, I do fine with my old 2002 iMac, as all I use it for is for internetting and writing. Apart from that almost ever-present beachball (even with 1G RAM), it serves its purpose damnably well. And yet I must have that dirty, irrational and slightly disloyal Intel widescreen goodness. It's a whorish thing, I admit. I'm a writer by trade so I would welcome a tax-deductible excuse, perhaps in the way of greatly enhanced research and word processing capabilities. (Don't make me laugh?) Or, failing that, just an excuse for my own purposes. Any ideas? Sympathy? Advice? And, yes, exactly what set-up should I get? Many thanks for any support, one way or the other.
posted by MiguelCardoso to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Depends. How did you depreciate your old computer as an expense under your writing business? 3 year schedule, 5 year schedule, or immediately? Theoretically, you could write off a new computer every year if you depreciate it within that year.
posted by SpecialK at 11:07 AM on September 21, 2006

Since that's going to rely a lot on Portuguese tax laws, I'm not sure how many people here are going to be able to answer it. If you have an accountant, though, why not ask him what the acceptable standard is for personal/business equipment deductions in Portugal? It may not be a requirement that you have some 'justification' it may simply be enough that you actually bought the stuff, and will use it all or mostly for your business purposes, for example.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:19 AM on September 21, 2006

I don't understand the problem. As a writer (I'm assuming freelance here), you are the boss and sole proprietor of your business, and are therefore the only one who can make purchasing decisions like this. It's a business expense, plain and simple. Is it a valid one? Yes, if the object purchased is used for your business. Is it a worthwhile one? Well, that's another question. But your accountant can't tell you not to make a stupid purchase for your business (although he may advise you on it). And as long as you can prove that you're doing your work on it, your tax inspector can't prevent you from claiming it.

I mean, really, who says you need any computer at all? Pen and paper's fine for a writer, and you can always use an internet café and local-variety Kinko's for the rest. Can your accountant demand you give up your computer altogether?

Unless the tax laws are very different where you are, from my experience as a freelance writer it's up to you to determine what you need to work properly, and it's up to your accountant to get the best deductions based on that information. Your accountant may suggest lease vs. buy options, but the what of the purchase is nobody's business but yours.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:22 AM on September 21, 2006

Thanks SpecialK and jacquilynne! But the tax-financial, Portuguese stuff I can deal with: what I need is the emotional-vaguely-but-convincingly-technical stance to present my case to my accountant and to myself: an excuse I can defend which doesn't seem ridiculously shallow.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2006

Judging from things that you've said, here, in the past, I'm guessing that you're receiving extra scrutiny from the tax authorities.

It sounds like they may disallow your claim because you already have a computer, and a new computer isn't really *necessary*.

The thing to do is focus on the differences between the iMac that you're currently using and the 24" iMacs. One way you could do it is if you can claim that you need to use the latest version of some software that only runs on Intel Macs. Or, you could claim that you need to run a Windows application using something like Parallels or Bootcamp.

Another tact might be to focus on the larger screen. Maybe your eye-sight is deteriorating and you need the larger screen to remain productive?
posted by bshort at 11:28 AM on September 21, 2006

Ah, on preview, nevermind.
posted by bshort at 11:29 AM on September 21, 2006

How can I convince my accountant and my tax inspectors that I truly do need to buy a new 24" iMac...? Because I don't. [...] Truth is, I do fine with my old 2002 iMac, "

Honestly, I think you're going to have a hard time convincing anyone that you need it if you, yourself, don't believe you do.
posted by CrayDrygu at 11:34 AM on September 21, 2006

Ok, here's your excuse. you need the extra wide-screen to look at complete spreads of the pdf proofs your editors are sure to be sending you. Also, as someone who does a lot of electronic research for your books and articles, you can save both time and money by having multiple programs with multiple windows open at the same time to more easily review, concantenate, and digest information in real time. This sort of heavy duty multi-tasking requires a great deal of processing horsepower (hence, an up-to-date processor) and a lot of screen real estate (hence the 24" screen). And, since your legacy files are all Macintosh, what better way to increase productivity, save time (and reduce eye-strain), and insure a seamless continuity of your workflow than to equip yourself with one reliable machine: a 24" IMac.

See? Easy as pie.
posted by Chrischris at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2006

You need the new one to write longer sentences.
posted by smackfu at 11:37 AM on September 21, 2006

There is a lot of info to be had with a google search for: larger monitor size productivity.
posted by SpookyFish at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2006

In that case, Miguel, how about 'I wanted it, I can easily afford it, and I'm a grown man entitled to make my own decisions about these sorts of things.' You've earned a certain amount of luxury in your life, don't feel compelled to justify it to others.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:56 AM on September 21, 2006

You're getting older and you can't read the small screen -- it all ends up looking like Portuguese, except when you're on that MetaFilter site.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:57 AM on September 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Find a task related to your work that requires this size monitor. Even it is a task you don't currently do. I justified a larger sized monitor by aligning long strings of nucleotides. This does happen to be something I need to do. . . but you can find the equivalent in your job and voila. I'm guessing a broad spreadsheet display would be an arguable necessity.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:03 PM on September 21, 2006

Why do you need to 'convince' someone of it? Is that how it works in Portugal? In the United Kingdom, a business owner (or sole proprietor) can buy entire swathes of stuff without having to defend it.. of course, if you start claiming your DVD purchases are all training videos, and you have 20 computers mysteriously still in the business, you're going to hit trouble.. but for a few computers..? We all need that now.
posted by wackybrit at 12:08 PM on September 21, 2006

"After those robot-zombie pirates came and smashed my old computer, I had to get a new one!"

Seriously, Miguel, you don't need an excuse. Four years is a reasonable replacement cycle. If you can afford it, you need not feel guilty. As luxuries go, it's pretty practical.
posted by adamrice at 1:16 PM on September 21, 2006

Could your old machine have a terrible accident that would prevent you from working on it?
posted by aburd at 1:24 PM on September 21, 2006

"Truth is, I do fine with my old 2002 iMac,"

"It's old, potentially unreliable, and doesn't run new programs, or runs them slowly."

Honestly, at four years, some components are reaching their effective end of life.

You're an author, right? You have you livelihood in draft form on the disk. If the disk crashes, your work may well be irreplaceable, and even if you can restore from backups, today's additions or revisions are gone, and you're dead in the water until you can restore, which costs you productivity and possibly missed deadlines.

(You may even have a contractual duty to a publisher to take reasonable steps to prevent this, which would include getting a new machine periodically.)
posted by orthogonality at 2:00 PM on September 21, 2006

(Incidentally, as a programmer I spend lots of time on my machine. I have a 24 inch screen, and it honestly does make me more productive, because I can have two what-would-be-full-size-on-a-17-inch-monitor windows open without overlapping them. Great for, in my case, a text editor and a database browser or a web browser showing the web application I'm working on, or a shell window to run ant or make.)
posted by orthogonality at 2:04 PM on September 21, 2006

Or, failing that, just an excuse for my own purposes.

I just upgraded to a macbook from an ibook around the same age as your imac (though my ibook was slower with less memory). My experience is that you may be significantly underestimating how disruptive the beach-ball really is, just because you're used to it.
posted by advil at 2:29 PM on September 21, 2006

From a writing perspective, it is so, so nice to have a huge monitor in which to read several things at once (especially good if you are doing reporting, scholarship, anything using sources, or multitasking)

... says the girl dying to upgrade to 17" ;]
posted by shownomercy at 2:34 PM on September 21, 2006

Quote Bill Gates from an April 2006 interview: "Once you have that large display area, you'll never go back, because it has a direct impact on productivity."
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:58 PM on September 21, 2006

my old 2002 iMac

That has an expired AppleCare support contract, no? You want a new machine with a warranty to get your work done on!

(I went from a 17" G5 iMac to a 20" Core Duo iMac back in January, and from a 12" iBook G4 to a new MacBook a month ago)
posted by mrbill at 3:17 PM on September 21, 2006

Isn't there some software that will only run on the new intel machines that you are required to use?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:28 PM on September 21, 2006

Damn, you're a persuasive lot!

I now feel utterly deprived by my itty-bitty, antiquated and inadequate machine and will not rest until my restless spirit can wander on the great open spaces of the 24" screen I need for so many reasons.

Many thanks!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:32 PM on September 21, 2006

Maybe you can take--and then get Matt to post-- a picture of you with the green up on your new 24" loveliness. :)
posted by wzcx at 3:17 AM on September 24, 2006

So, how's that 24incher fitting you, Migs?
posted by ColdChef at 5:36 PM on October 5, 2006

Unless you are using photoshop or multitasking with a dozen+ applications, 1 GB is plenty. And so is 250 GB, again, barring your storing thousands of MP3s or tons of video for video editing.

In short: you are likely just fine with 1 GB / 250, and will not notice the difference. If, after owning the computer for a while, you find your hard disk grinding more often than you'd like when opening new programs, and your memory usage is the culprit, buy more memory. The same goes if you find yourself running out of hard drive space. The third party upgrades are probably much cheaper, anyway, than Apple's.

But more than likely you will not notice the difference.
posted by shivohum at 8:01 PM on December 21, 2006

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