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Your Freelancer Guide To Self-Employment Taxes Infographic

One of the most daunting aspects of setting up your own business is learning how to manage your books and complete your taxes. In my own experience as a self-employed writer, I’ve learned first-hand how easy it is to let day-to-day book-keeping slip down my list of priorities when I’m busy completing work for clients, marketing my business and networking.

Unfortunately this resulted in spending a few frantic coffee-fuelled days before the deadline doing almost a year’s worth of financial admin and double-checking what I needed to do to submit my taxes correctly.

If you want to avoid finding yourself in a similar situation, the first thing you need to do is get clear on what you need to be doing and when.

Your Freelancer Guide To Self-Employment Taxes Infographic

Dates and Deductible Expenses

Knowing the dates for tax deadlines is essential. If you file late without an extension you will have to pay a penalty on top of any taxes you owe.

From day one, you need to know what you can claim as tax deductible business expenses. Not keeping track of these can mean that you’ll pay too much tax.  It can also mean that you won’t have a clear understanding of how much your business costs to operate. This is vital to making sure that you’re setting your rates at the right level, something which many new self-employed people struggle with.

As well as deducting expenses like office rent, marketing and professional services, you can also claim for attending conferences and business travel. If you claim for office equipment, you need to keep a note of why it is necessary for running your business.

If you work from home, you might be entitled to claim a portion of your housing costs. There are strict eligibility criteria though. If you’re just setting up your home office it can be worthwhile familiarizing yourself with this criteria, as for instance you wouldn’t be entitled to claim if you used a corner of your dining room but you might be if you turned an entire extra bedroom in a dedicated office space.

Always keep receipts, not just account statements, even after you’ve filed your taxes. Although this might sound like a very simple tip, I found that investing in an expandable file where I could store receipts by month made doing my taxes and bookkeeping much simpler.

While some of the tax forms which you need to submit as a self-employed person might be familiar, you’ll also need to fill out some new ones. These include Form SE for federal self-employment taxes and any local taxes you might need to pay.

Don’t worry if all this seems incredibly confusing. In my experience, the majority of self-employed people felt this way when they first started out, including the ones who went on to run very successful businesses.

This infographic guide to tax for freelancers shows you exactly what you need to be doing, which expenses are allowable business deductions and which forms you need to complete.

eSmart Tax Freelance Infographic

Infographic courtesy of eSmart Tax

Images: “Taxes /


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I am a freelance finance, business and investment writer working out of Brighton. With over 5 years experience in both the financial and business industry I have a wealth of knowledge with I am keen to share. I have recently been published on the Sales Force blog and Real Business along with a number of other high profile online publications.

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  • Hi Christina, I love step five! that’s where it’s at for me just now. I really think that small biz needs to think collaboration rather than competition. If you take a small twon, for instance. It makes a lot of sense for all businesses in an area who target tourists/passers by joining forces in an effort to get more people to visit the area. Online/Social Media is the tool in this regards. Wouldn’t it be great if all businesses pooled their resources to create a online presence as to why you should visit. Together, we can always be greater than the sum of our parts.

  • Satheesh Vattem

    Nice post Christina. I have personally worked with a few companies who approach competition just like how you suggested. In fact we used to do a competitive analysis matrix as part of our standard business analysis which used to compare the offerings of the competition and decide on how their own offering should be based on the best of every one. The idea was why to reinvent the wheel when you can spend your energy on making ur offering better. And as u rightly pointed out when everybody continues to learn from the competition this way, all the businesses will eventually prosper. I also second the collaboration part although I feel that collaboration is more trickier and hence needs to be managed better

  • CBSS

    Easy steps to overcome fears of competition. You have summarised marketing management very effectively.

  • I love this post Tina. I’ve always said that competiton is good, it encourages you to play at your best all the time. I have worked with some of my competiton and there are others that I haven’t yet might do in the future. Getting stressed and panicky is only going to affect you which will take from your own performance ability and is a complete waste of energy, better to analysis them the ways you suggested in steps 2-5 above.

  • Hello Niall,nnI thought you might! We are making a bold step forward and responding to market changes in the industry. Collaboration is opportunist activity and one I completely believe will grow and become vitally important. Partnerships and group discussion floursih online. Facebook groups, Wiki’s etc are all a welcome place to brainstorm without taking a step. It would be wonderful to see more companies adopt this approach. We’ve felt first-hand the benefits, and they have much to gain.nCheers for the comments!

  • Why thank you very much CBSS. I wrote it because that was me. I had to overcome my fears of dwelling on the negatives of competition. But it doesn’t have to be all negative. I mind-mapped all the postitives and they far outweighed the negatives. We have a natural response to focus on the bad things…it’s in our nature. But we are the drivers of our minds and we can change our perceptions. Competition has always been apparent (unless a monopoly). We manage it by thinking clearly with plan and considering how we can use it!n

  • Hi Satheesh,nI undertake competive analysis for clients for all online projects. Its an excellent way of keeping track of what your competition are doing. You can even sign up to email and follow their activity via RSS feeds, FB and Twitter to monitor. I found Hitwise Competitor Intelligence to be a fantastic tool (not available in Ireland) – you can benchmark against competitors and gain access to their website stats and onlien activity. As you say, no point reinventing the wheel – secondary research is about using information readily available and adjusting for your needs. Same applies to competitive analysis. nnGlad that you are a collaboration champion. It is tricky, but well worth the effort!nnTake care and thanks for the comments.

  • Hello Mairead,nnO’yes indeed. Its a benchmark and indicator of where you could/should be. Stress is a negative feedback loop emotion – Its feeds itself. Taking a structured approach gives you greater concentration and is much more effective. nnHappy to note that you are partnering with the competition!

  • Mel Ashworth

    I couldn’t agree more Christina, competetion is healthy and,as you said, there is plenty of business to go around. About 70% of our business results from referrals from other associates. We tend to network with people who specialise in an area that we don’t but whose clients are likely be interested in our services. In this way associates are able to add value to their client by introducing our services and it is very easy to secure the business that way. We do offer an attractive referral incentive but that works both ways so we look for work for our associates too. It’s a great model. If anyone wants to hear how it works feel free to call me on 01789 551 665 or email Happy to share.

  • Abundance, not scarcity!nnGreat post Christina, and very well laid out as a process. One of my best friends is in very very similar business to me (one of my areas) and it was she who mentored and advocated me many years ago, and she used those words exactly “There is plenty of business for everyone” . Those words have resonated with me over the years 🙂

  • Definitely a positive way to look at competition! I do agree with you in that competition only makes you better. Researching what’s out there and what others are doing is the perfect way to constantly improve!

  • Thanks for sharing this great infographic with us and the additional information. Tax time is stressful enough so this will certainly come in useful.

  • hannahlucy07

    best blog for this type of feeds..thnx a lot for shairng and helping all with your blog!! God bless you!

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