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Tax tips, freelancing's future, the Apple iPad

By Ashley Schroeder

Tips for keeping good records

I just filed my taxes. It was pretty easy. A free online service transformed info on my W-2 into an automatic deposit in my bank account.
However, many of you are freelancers whose tax preparation process isn’t so simple. You wait for 1099 forms to arrive from various employers. You sort through piles of receipts tucked a way in a dusty box.  And I can only imagine the other hassles  involved.
But next year, I’m pretty sure I’ll know exactly how you feel. My New Year’s resolution is to get serious about my side job and turn it into a more profitable endeavor.
Since I have a whole year to save receipts and work on this resolution, I figured I should know what I’m getting myself into. And from what I’ve read so far, the most important thing is to be organized.
Here’s a blurb from William Perez’s Tips for Keeping Organized (part of the series Tax Tips for Freelancers):

I highly recommend you start tracking your business-related expenses using the same categories on the Schedule C form … The most relevant categories of expenses for freelance writers include:

  • Advertising – this includes business cards and Web-marketing.
  • Insurance – for life, property & casualty, or business insurance. Do not include health insurance under this category.
  • Other interest – credit card or loan interest, such as interest paid on your computer loan.
  • Legal and professional services – such as fees your accountant will charge.
  • Office expense – anything other than routine supplies.
  • Rent or lease other business property – rent paid on a writer’s studio, for example.
  • Repairs and maintenance – repairing your computer, for example.
  • Supplies – routine office supplies like paper, toner, pens, pencils, notepads, etc.
  • Travel – the cost of traveling to a convention, meeting, or business trip.
  • Meals and entertainment – the cost of business meals, but be careful not to go overboard.
  • Utilities –electricity, gas.
  • Other expenses – such as Dues & Subscriptions, Web development, and Business telephone expenses.

Most writers have things like a Web site, high-speed Internet connection, a computer, various software programs and a small home office where they do most of their work. Writers will typically subscribe to various magazines, trade journals, or research tools. If your expense does not fit neatly into one the categories above, don’t worry. Just create a new category, and put it in Part V for “Other Expenses.” We would put Dues & Subscriptions, Business Telephone, and Website Development under Part V.

In other news…

Matt Miller sent me this link the other day. “Today’s reality is that much of freelancing has become free,” James Rainey says in a Los Angeles Times article: Freelance writing’s unfortunate new model.
I mentioned Apple’s new tablet–the iPad–in my inaugural blog post. It’s only been a day since the unveiling, but the blogosphere has plenty to say about the gadget. CNN rounded up some of the best commentary from techy bloggers: Insanely great, or underwhelming? Blogosphere reacts to iPad. ◊

Ashley Schroeder is OWAA’s Publications Editor. Schroeder graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in print journalism and a minor in media arts. She hails from Gillette, Wyo., where her outdoors experience included summer backpacking trips and surviving windy winter blizzards. Schroeder enjoys her relocation to Missoula and gets her fill of fresh air by snowboarding and soaking in hot springs. Contact Ashley at aschroeder@owaa.org.

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