All Articles Tagged "self-employment"
As a freelancer or independent contractor, understanding how to navigate your taxes is a crucial aspect of running a business. Failure to comply with the special self-employment guidelines could result in penalities, audits, and further action against you (and your business) by the IRS.
We chatted with Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, business strategist, author, and founder of Novellus Financial, a firm that provides high level financial guidance and business strategy planning to businesses, and New Adams, a NY-based tax accountant whose resume includes stints at top firms Deloitte and UBS. These seasoned tax experts helped us understand how freelancers, in particular, can optimize their deductions and get out of tax season with their heads above water.
Here are five tax tips our experts recommended that freelancers keep in mind as we approach the April 18th, 2016 filing deadline.
1. You cannot avoid self-employment tax.
According to Novellus, “If you are self- employed, all income is subject to both income tax and self employment tax. As such, remember to add an additional 15.3 percent to all profit when estimating your tax liability.”
Think you can escape it? Think again. Adams notes, “If your freelance business generates over $400 annually, you have to pay self- employment tax.” Therefore, she urges contract employees to keep clients on track with providing you with a 1099 form. Remember, if you make $600 or more from any one client you must report the income on your personal tax return.
2. Understand what kind of return you need to file.
As a freelancer, it’s important to know your business structure in order to best understand your tax filing requirements. Many times, freelancers don’t always understand that corporate tax returns and self-employment tax returns have different filing dates and tax forms. According to Novellus, “Companies that formed as a C Corporation, S Corporation, Partnership and/or Multi-Member LLC must file their tax returns by March 15 every year.” Also, each entity has a different tax form.
3. Know what tax deductions you can take.
As a freelancer, deductions can be your best friend and help offset your amount of total taxable income. As a freelancer, you are able to take more deductions than those who are aren’t. Deductible expenses include (with strict guidlelines): home office costs, domain and web hosting, telephone/internet costs, auto expenses, advertising, professional fees, retirement contributions, and more. Novellus states, “Freelancers, can deduct 50% of meal and entertainment expenses for work-related activities [and] can take the full deduction for insurance and education which is not allowed for those who are employees.” Additionally, Adams recommends that freelancers, especially, take advantage of startup cost deductions — something first-time freelancers often miss.
4. Commit to solid record keeping.
As a freelancer, you should be keeping track of all business income and expenses and keep all documentations for up to three years, as recommended by the federal government. If you aren’t good with paper documentation, try using different mobile apps that allow you to keep track of receipts and expenses. By becoming diligent about your expenses, you’ll be able to “understand how you spend your money and it also helps you with planning for the future, ” according to Novellus.
5. Be honest about your income.
With self-employment tax being so high, it can be tempting to lie about how much you really make. Many freelancers, Novellus says, may not know that “the IRS compares your income and expenses to industry standards. If you have way more deductions than are reasonable, you are much more likely to be audited.”
Rana Campbell is a marketing/branding professional who helps creatives & lifestyle entrepreneurs build brands that SHINE in the business world. She is also the host of the Dreams in Drive: No Parking Podcast. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, or ranacampbell.com.
Are you thinking about transitioning into full-time self-employment?
Even though it comes with many long-term perks like freedom and flexibility, being a full-time business owner does come with a lot of challenges.
Each challenge you can overcome with some bootstrapping and good planning, but you should still take them into account before quitting your day job. Read on for questions to ask yourself before you go headfirst into self-employment.
The 2013 tax season is here, and with many close friends, family members and acquaintances offering their personal services and advice, they might overlook a few of the tax deductions you could possibly qualify for.
Filing your taxes may seem simple enough, but make sure you are getting all you deserve from the year and take note of these commonly overlooked tax deductions before filing and completing your taxes for the season.
Did you know that more than 5.8 million of you do not go to work in an office? That’s the number of people working at home, says new data by the U.S. Census Bureau. The figures are from 2010, the last year calculated, and the results are 4.2 million more people than a decade ago.
Makeda Smith has worked at home most of her career and remembers when it was not a widely-accepted concept. “I initially began working from home 25 years ago. It was not a very popular concept back then and office spaces were perceived as status symbols,” recalls Smith, owner of Jazzmyne Public Relations, a boutique agency. “But as a new agency owner two things were more important to me. One, I wanted to be able to spend more quality time with my daughter who was five years old at the time and two, I needed to streamline my finances. Ironically, people used to say things to me back then, ‘Don’t tell folks you work at home–they won’t take you seriously as a business owner!'”
The report, Home-Based Workers in the United States: 2010, found that the number of people who worked at home at least one day per week increased from 9.5 million in 1999 to 13.4 million in 2010, up 7 percent to 9.5 percent of all workers. Between 2005 and 2010 the share grew from 7.8 percent to 9.5 percent of all workers, an increase of more than 2 million. In all, 5.8 million or 4.3 percent of the U.S. workforce worked the majority of the week at home in 2010. “Home-based workers increased by 133 percent among state government workers and 88 percent among federal government workers. There was a 67 percent increase in home-based work for employees of private companies,” according to the report.
For Smith, the benefits of working at home more than outweigh the negatives. “You don’t have to get up to battle traffic in the morning, you don’t have to get dressed to go to work and you make your own hours,” she tells us. “And in terms of office politics and interacting with different personalities and people’s mood swings, there are none.”
One downside, says Smith, is the tendency to overwork. “I end up putting in far more than 40 hours a work week. I had to train myself to take ‘me’ time,” she says.
Smith shares her 5 tips on how to work at home successfully:
1) Create an office space in your home. An office space does not have to be an entire room but just an area dedicated to your work.
2) Make daily “to do lists” so you know you are accomplishing your goals and staying on track with work.
3) Be sure to take breaks. Factor in lunch breaks, daily walks, or an exercise class, etc. Sometimes working at home can consume you.
4) Don’t let other people’s perception of your time and workspace adversely influence you. If someone calls to chit-chat because they know you are at home, let them know that just because you are at home, it doesn’t mean you are not working.
5) Celebrate and give thanks daily. Working at home is a true blessing.
(Businessweek) — When you are working for yourself, the responsibility for staying on top of projects, communicating with clients, and collecting money you’re owed falls completely to you. There’s no boss checking in to make sure you are meeting deadlines, no team to keep you on track. It helps to be naturally organized. If you’re not, you can learn to be. “Most people aren’t naturally good golfers, but they can be taught how to do it,” says Lisa Kanarek, founder of WorkingNaked.com in Dallas. If you don’t put in some effort, you’ll have a tough time being successfully self-employed. Mark Miller, a self-employed marketing specialist who founded High Impact Marketing in Los Angeles, says he learned this the hard way. “I have never been a particularly organized or neat person in terms of keeping my things in order. Unfortunately, those traits did not translate well into the business world,” he says.
(Tri State Defender) — As jobs become harder to find, more African Americans are turning to self-employment for financial survival, driving up the numbers of home-based businesses owned by African Americans, officials said. However, Ron Busby, president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chamber, said that despite the growing legion of entrepreneurs, the growth of black-owned businesses is stymied by limited access to capital and a lack of large-scale business opportunities.
“The fact that black-owned businesses have grown in numbers is encouraging, but that’s not the complete picture,” said Busby. “A closer look at Census data reveals that these businesses are small and immature in terms of company size, annual receipts, and other key factors.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) blacks owned 1.9 million businesses in the United States, accounting for 7.1 percent of all nonfarm businesses. Although there was a significant jump in the number of black-owned businesses – up 60.5 percent from 2002 – 94.4 percent of these firms had no paid employees. Only 106,824 were employer firms, employing 921,032 persons with a total payroll of $23.9 billion. These firms reportedly generated $98.9 billion in receipts.
(New York Times) — The share of Americans working for themselves has fallen since the recovery began, according to the Labor Department. The following chart, from Steven F. Hipple, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows the quarterly rates of self-employment over the last decade. The figure for the last quarter of 2010 is estimated from rates recorded in October and November.
(Smart Money) — After working for years at the automotive web site Carfax, Lowell Bike struck out on his own, co-founding MyAutoTips.com. Bike knew starting a business would have its challenges, but he never thought setting up a retirement plan would be so difficult.
“It was confusing,” he says. “There are just so many requirements for each different plan.”
As if saving for retirement wasn’t hard enough already, small business owners have the extra burden of having to set up their own savings funds. Business start-ups reached their highest level in 14 years in 2009, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, and as more Americans become their own bosses, picking the right savings plan is an important planning decision.
(BusinessWeek.com) — I enjoyed your article on health-care reform for small business owners.I’m coming out of unemployment into full-fledged self-employment. There are two of us in the company, which is a hosting service for foreign students. Where do I turn to get health insurance through my own company? —E.Q., Bronx, N.Y.