Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eight tax tips for beginner freelancers

The Northwest Editors Guild meeting in January featured an engaging talk by Charlene Fleming, CPA, regarding taxes for self-employed creative freelancers. [more] Engaging. On taxes. Really. And helpful for newbies. Here's a few notes that I circled, starred, and underlined as "aha" moments for me. Your results may vary.

  • Set aside 20 - 25% of income to cover federal and Washington state taxes. (Percentage applicable to a service-oriented business with no employees.)

  • Obtain a state business license to protect your customer from potential liability re: temporary staff rulings.

  • Health insurance premiums are a deductible business expense.

  • Internet and cell phone expenses are fully deductible as a business expense. It is understood that these are also likely used for personal activity, however you don't need to apply a percentage of business vs. personal use. You can deduct the total.

  • If services are provided by you when you are out of Washington state, do not pay state tax on that income. You must be physically out-of-state when delivering the service in order to exclude it from the state income tax calculation.

  • The federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is more understanding than the Washington state Department of Revenue regarding small mistakes in your return.

  • The IRS and Washington state Department of Revenue don't communicate with each other.

    • It is money well spent to hire a professional to help with taxes.

    Remember, your results may vary. Please do your own validation or hire a tax pro.

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