The career of a freelance writer can be very rewarding. However, the career can quickly lose its appeal when tax time arrives and you owe several thousand dollars. Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce your tax bill and prevent owing such a large sum at once. The following are just five essential tax tips for freelance writers.
Pay Your Estimated Taxes
This cannot be stressed enough. Freelance writers need to pay estimated taxes in April, June, September and January of the following year. These payments will ensure that you don’t get penalized for paying your taxes late and will help ensure you don’t have a large tax bill come April. There are a number of easy to use resources online that will help you determine the amount of your estimated taxes.
Setup a Home Office
If you’re working from home, you should be able to deduct part of your rent/mortgage and utilities. However, when setting up a home office, it needs to be an area that you use solely for the purpose of your business. This does not have to be an entire room. It may even be a small corner of your home. The biggest thing to remember is to save this area for work.
Understand Your Deduction Rights
As a freelance writer, you can deduct many different things. It may be books you purchased to help teach you how to write a novel or even office supplies. Take the time to find out what you can deduct and how much of a deduction you can take. For example, you may be able to deduct part of your internet costs as long as you have proof of the percentage of time that the internet was used for work purposes.
Keep Each and Every Receipt
It doesn’t do you any good to purchase books, pens and other office items if you don’t keep the receipts. Without these receipts, if you get audited, you will be in big trouble. You need to be able to account for each and every item you count as a business expense. You should also start a filing system that keeps the receipts in order based on the type of expense.
Take Advantage of Deductions
Being self-employed means that you can deduct items that most people might not be able to deduct. For example, you can deduct the cost of health insurance. You can also setup an IRA and deduct up to $5,000 a year. Do your homework and see which items can get you the biggest deductions.
It can be hard to pay your taxes when you’re self-employed, but the good news is you may not have to pay as much as you originally thought. Follow these tips and you’ll have an easier time staying on top of the taxes and getting the biggest return.
About the Author: Wendi Ginter is an accountant who offers tax support to a wide variety of freelancers and small business owners. Make sure you talk to your accountant about any and all deductions you wish to make to ensure you’re listing them legally and properly.
- 2011 Rules for Charitable Contribution Deductions (2011taxes.org)