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Freelancer Writers Tax Filing Tips

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If you’ve ever spent time wondering why everyone takes the time to file their taxes, the simple answer is that it’s against the law not to.  In the US Taxes are due on the 15 April every year and individuals need to file federal, state and in some cases local tax returns.  Even freelancers need to file their taxes, and if they are unable to pay the tax bill immediately, they can get on a payment plan.

Why is it important to pay your taxes if the IRS will issue me a bill, anyway?

Tax returns where citizens prepare their own tax deductions and paperwork result in lower tax bills and higher credits, so it makes sense to file the forms and pay your tax by the due date.

You can pay your taxes online, by mail, or by phone whether you have all the money at once or not.

If you’re filing late and not just paying late, be prepared to pay interest fees on the amount due with your taxes. A common mistake citizens make is filing their taxes even a month late and thinking that they’ve incurred no interest.

The critical aspect of keeping a clean rapport with the IRS is making contact and showing them that you’re trying.

Keep your records clean and provide all of the necessary information. That one simple rule and most of your dealings with the IRS are positive. Likewise, if you are below the $600 a year limit and feel that there is no point to filing your taxes you should still file your taxes.

So what is the best way to file your taxes?

Freelance writers may not earn a regular income. Getting paid for writing blog posts for outreach agencies or directly with the website owner and the odd magazine article contribution every so often makes it harder to know how to report the income so here are a few tax filing tips for freelance writers:

Tax Filing Forms

The tax filing forms are important, and everyone you’ve worked for should provide you with a 1099-MISC form. However, there are exemptions that you need to be aware of, as businesses do not need to provide the form if any of the following conditions apply:

  • If you’re paid less than $600 throughout the year from the same client, you’re not going to get any forms, and there’s another out for clients too. If you’ve earned less than $20,000 or had less than 200 transactions throughout the year, then this condition also allows clients off from sending you forms for filing your income for tax purposes
  • When you use Paypal or an equivalent for payment for your work, you’re also most likely not going to get the prerequisite form from your clients

However, these conditions do not relinquish you from your tax filing responsibilities, without the client forms, you need to complete the Schedule C form.

Being a freelancer, you have to pay for your own supplies and services and these items are most likely deductible from your revenue before incurring a tax payment. There are many items that can be deducted too so while this information is useful, it’s not conclusive, so seek professional advice on your tax obligations and the filing process from your accountant.  Don’t procrastinate with your tax filing, and when it’s done well every time your records are in order should the IRS decide to audit you.

Final Thoughts: Communication Is Key

The IRS is responsible for collecting the many taxes that fund our public service programs and our government. It’s a job they have to take very seriously. Communicating with the IRS is the number one way to stay on their right side and keep your financial records clean.