How to File Taxes as a Self-Employed Freelancer

It’s that time of the year again: Tax season. 

The mere presence of those two words are enough to instill fear amongst many. I still remember being rather scared and apprehensive, like any normal working professional, when I filed taxes for the very first time. Back when I had a corporate job, this was pretty easy breezy. W-2s were really straight-forward, and a return was almost always the outcome.

Fast forward three years later: This whole scenario changed quite drastically when I went freelance and became self-employed. While I would never trade my current career for the world, come tax season, it is much more complex and daunting. Every single expense suddenly held more weight, whether it is minor or significant. This is why in the years past, I’ve often procrastinated and deferred to my family accountant to take care of all my taxable expenses and tax returns. 

However, after doing some extensive research and educating myself on tax write-offs for the self-employed, I decided to get an early start and embrace the challenge of doing my own taxes. Head-on. Fortunately, this is where TurboTax Self-Employed and QuickBooks Self-Employed comes in and pretty much saves the day. 

Cue the ‘chill’ playlist on Spotify. 

In the process of filing my taxes via TurboTax, I discovered surprising ways of to tackle taxable expenses and items that were previously unknown to me:

  1. Your home office or office rental is completely taxable by the amount of square footage. In my case, I have both as I need an additional space to photograph for specific freelance projects. All you have to do is provide proof of documentation to verify that a particular amount of space is dedicated to your business and work!
  2. In addition to gas and mileage expenses, car registration, lease payments and insurance are also taxable. I had no idea this was even possible before I started keeping tabs through TurboTax’s Expense Estimator.
  3. One can even expense the depreciation of property and equipment. This can range from a DSLR camera to a computer laptop for creatives like me who constantly rely on new and updated technology to further advance my service capabilities. A life-changing taxable expense if you ask me!
  4. Educational expenses are equally taxable. Any further education one receives, whether it’s subscribing to web development tutorials or taking a photography course at a local college, is fair game when it comes to your tax return. Keep textbook and e-book receipts handy, in case you need to show proof of purchase. 
  5. For those who are thinking long-term tax reductions, this may be another strategy to consider: Set up a defined-benefit pension plan. This plan is entirely based on age and income, in which higher earnings equate to more contributions. 
  6. TurboTax also uniquely offers SmartLook™ that taps a live expert to look through your tax return just to ensure that everything looks right before submission. Don’t worry — only you can see the live expert via one-way video on your screen. 

With TurboTax and its abundance of useful features, I can rest assured knowing that I can process my expenses and taxes easily and efficiently. I also love how I can do it on my own pace as every change and documentation is securely saved on your TurboTax account. The program is designed with the freelance and self-employed lifestyle in mind. 

Here’s to TurboTax — doing taxes the auto-pilot way ;)