Doing taxes is complicated. Being a freelance contractor is tough. Doing taxes as a freelancer? You’re stressed out.
The light at the end of this paper-plastered tunnel is the promise of extensive tax write-offs and deductions that are available to the savvy, receipt-clutching freelancer.
As we discuss, remember this one guiding principle: “Did this expense help me pursue and complete freelance opportunities that contributed to my contractor income this year?” If the answer is ‘YES’, then there’s a good chance the expense may count.
Disclaimer: I am not a tax professional nor do I claim to be one. This article is a primer to get freelancers thinking. I highly recommend you consult a tax professional for advice before implementing any of these write-offs.
You Can Write Off Job Seeking Expenses
Many 1099 contractors end up spending quite a bit of money just finding jobs in the first place. And that’s ok! Any expense that explicitly helps you find freelance opportunities may be considered a job seeking expense. That’s a write-off.
This category may include premium portfolio services (like Clippings.me Premium), professional resume services, blog portfolio expenses, professional membership fees, and even some travel expenses.
You Can Write Off Office Supplies
These things are your desk’s bread and butter and you probably take them for granted. When you have your own office, your office supply costs can qualify as functional business expenses.
Office supplies can include essentially everything on your desk: printer, ink, paper, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, stationery, envelopes, stamps, and cleaning products. The list goes on. It doesn’t matter that these are such mundane objects, these are all essential parts of your personal office environment. “Normal” offices provide things like these for employees, but you have to provide them for yourself to function as an independent contractor. They’re necessary and they’re deductible.
You Can Write Off Professional Development Expenses
Again, follow our central theme: any expense that increases your ability to obtain work as a freelancer could count as a write-off.
This category of expenses may include everything from online courses and certificates to conferences, professional meetups, and networking events. These are all potent expenses, especially for new freelance writers who are just starting out.
You Can Write Off Home Office (and Coworking Space) Expenses
This section could get complicated, so let’s stick to the basics: your home office (or office space) has a number of expenses that might be deductible. You can write off the space itself, via the rent or mortgage cost of the workspace (bring a calculator); you can also write off anything that is important and necessary for your office to operate as a space that enables you to make money.
Here are some of the larger purchases that you may be able to deduct: a computer, desk, chairs, lamps, storage, space heaters, power strips, and so on. And don’t forget to factor in potential factors like upkeep, depreciation, utilities, and internet.
You’re a freelancer, and you don’t write for free. Use some of these suggested write-offs to keep your hard earned money.
Jay is the Senior Editor at GameSkinny by day, and freelance consultant by night. Writes about culture, tech, gaming, and film. Find Jay on Twitter: @ThatJayR.