Taxes for Freelancers: A Guide to Filing, Deductions, & More

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Taxes can be complicated, especially for freelancers. It’s important to understand the basics of taxes as a freelancer to ensure you don’t miss any deductions or credits that could help your bottom line.

This article will go over the essentials of taxes for freelancers and provide tips on filing, finding deductions and credits, record-keeping advice, and resources available to help with taxes for freelancers.

So whether you are a veteran independent contractor or just starting out on your own business journey - this article is here to answer all your questions about income taxes so you can plan ahead.

Tax Basics for Freelancers

Self-employment tax is a type of federal income tax that freelancers must pay. It consists of Social Security and Medicare taxes, which are calculated based on the amount of net earnings from self-employment.

To calculate your taxes, you must subtract any business expenses from your total income and then multiply this by 15.3%. This percentage includes the employer’s and employee’s portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Freelancers may also be subject to other types of taxes, such as state or local income tax, sales tax, or property tax, depending on where they live.

Additionally, some freelancers may be required to make estimated quarterly payments if their expected annual liability exceeds $1,000 in any given year.

When filing your taxes as a freelancer, it is important to understand what forms you need to file to report all taxable income earned during the year properly.

Generally speaking, most freelancers will need to complete Form 1040 Schedule C (Profit or Loss From Business) along with Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return).

Depending on your specific situation, you may also need additional forms such as Form 4562 (Depreciation & Amortization), Form 8283 (Noncash Charitable Contributions), or Form 8829 (Expenses for Business Use of Your Home).

In addition to understanding what forms are needed when filing your taxes as a freelancer, several deductions and credits are available to help reduce the amount owed at tax time.

Common deductions include:

  • Home office expenses like rent/mortgage interest
  • Utilities; repairs
  • Supplies
  • Travel costs related directly to work activities
  • Advertising/marketing fees
  • Legal/professional services fees
  • Insurance premiums, etc.

There are also various credits available, such as childcare expenses or retirement savings contributions, that can further reduce one’s overall taxable liability for the year.

Finally, all freelance workers need to keep accurate records throughout the year so they have everything necessary when it comes time to file their return each April (in 2023, it’s April 18th, by the way).

Keeping track of receipts associated with business purchases made throughout the year is key since these documents provide proof that certain expenses were incurred while conducting business activities, thus making them eligible for deduction purposes come April 18th.

Additionally, keeping an organized record system helps ensure one has access to all relevant information quickly should they ever receive an audit notice from the IRS down the road.

Taxes can be daunting for freelancers, but with the right knowledge and understanding of self-employment tax, you can confidently file your taxes correctly.

Now let’s look at how to go about filing your taxes as a freelancer.

Filing Your Taxes as a Freelancer

Below I’ve outlined some more information on filing self-employment taxes, including reporting your actual business income and finding the right tax deductions.

When to File Your Taxes

As a freelancer, you are required to file your taxes by tax day each year. Many people think tax day is always April 15th, but it’s not. This year (2023), it falls on April 18th. And if you live in a state that has a state or local holiday, the date will be even later.

Either way, if you owe money, it is important that you pay your taxes on time or else face potential penalties and interest charges. It’s also important to note that if you are self-employed, you may need to make estimated tax payments throughout the year in order to avoid owing a large sum at the end of the year.

What Forms You Need To File

The forms needed for filing taxes as a freelancer will vary depending on your individual situation. Generally speaking, most freelancers will need to fill out Form 1040 and Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business).

Additionally, any other income sources, such as investments, should be reported using additional forms such as Schedule D (Capital Gains and Losses) or Form 4797 (Sales of Business Property).

File Your Taxes Online

Filing taxes online can be a convenient and efficient way for freelancers to complete their returns. Most major tax preparation software programs offer versions specifically designed for self-employed individuals, allowing users to enter their information directly into the program without having to fill out paper forms manually.

Additionally, many states now offer free e-filing services, which allow taxpayers with simple returns – such as those filed by most freelance workers –to submit their returns electronically with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Filing taxes as a freelancer can be complicated, but understanding what forms to use and when to file can help make the process smoother.

Next, let’s look at deductions and credits available for freelancers.

Deductions and Credits for Freelancers

When it comes to filing taxes as a freelancer, deductions and credits can be a great way to reduce your tax burden. Knowing what expenses are tax deductible and what credits are available to you is key in order to maximizing the benefits of these opportunities.

Common Deductions for Freelancers

There are several common deductions that freelancers may qualify for, such as home office expenses, business travel costs, supplies and equipment used for work purposes, health insurance premiums paid by self-employed individuals, and more. It’s important to keep track of all expenses related to your freelance business so that you can take advantage of these deductions when filing your taxes.

Claiming Business Expenses on Your Tax Return

When claiming business expenses on your tax return, ensure you have proper documentation, such as receipts or invoices, showing the amount spent. Additionally, ensure that any expense claimed is directly related to running or maintaining your freelance business – otherwise, it won’t be eligible for deduction.

In addition to deductions, there are also certain tax credits available that can help reduce the amount of taxes owed by freelancers.

These include things like:

  • Child care credit if you have dependents
  • Earned income credit if you meet certain criteria
  • Education credits if pursuing higher education
  • Retirement savings contributions credit

And more, depending on individual circumstances. It is important to understand which ones apply before filing, so they don’t get overlooked. You can maximize your tax savings by taking advantage of the deductions and credits available to freelancers.

Now let’s look at some tips for keeping accurate records as a freelancer.

Record-Keeping Tips for Freelancers

When it comes to record-keeping, freelancers have a lot of responsibility. It’s important to keep accurate records in order to stay organized and compliant with the law. Here are some tips on what records should be kept, how long they should be kept for, and tips on organizing records and documents.

What Records Should You Keep?

The types of records you need to keep depend on your business type and activities but generally include:

  1. Income statements
  2. Expense receipts
  3. Invoices sent/received
  4. Contracts signed by clients or vendors
  5. Bank account information (including deposits/withdrawals)
  6. Tax returns filed with the IRS/state government agencies, etc.

Additionally, you may want to consider keeping notes about meetings or conversations that could affect your business decisions in the future, such as customer feedback or vendor negotiations.

How Long Should You Keep Records?

It is recommended that you keep all financial documents related to your freelance business for at least seven years from when they were created or used in a transaction, as this is usually the amount of time an audit can go back if needed by law enforcement agencies or other entities investigating fraud cases.

However, certain documents like tax returns should be kept indefinitely since these will always remain relevant even after seven years have passed since their creation date.

Resources and Tools Available to Help with Taxes for Freelancers

Taxes can be a daunting task for freelancers, but resources and tools are available to help make the process easier.

Professional Tax Preparation Services for Freelancers

Professional tax preparation services can provide valuable assistance in filing taxes as a freelancer. These services offer guidance on how to file taxes properly, what deductions you may qualify for, and more.

They also have access to software that easily tracks income and expenses throughout the year. This helps ensure accuracy when filing taxes at the end of the year.

Additionally, professional tax preparers will often review your return before submitting it to catch any potential errors or missed deductions before they become an issue with the IRS.

Free Online Resources and Tools

Many free online resources are available to help freelancers understand their tax obligations and comply with federal regulations.

For example, websites like offer helpful information about filing taxes as a self-employed individual or small business owner, including detailed instructions on completing forms such as 1040 Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business).

Additionally, there are numerous blogs dedicated specifically to helping freelancers navigate their finances and manage their money effectively—including topics related to taxation—that provide useful tips from experienced professionals in this field.

FAQs About Taxes for Freelancers

How much should I put aside for taxes as a freelancer?

As a freelancer, it is important to set aside money for taxes. Generally speaking, you should plan to save 25-30% of your income for taxes. This will help ensure that you have enough funds available during tax season and can avoid any penalties or interest fees due to underpayment. Additionally, if possible, try setting aside extra funds in case of an audit or other unexpected expenses related to filing taxes as a freelancer.

Do freelancers get W2 or 1099?

Freelancers typically receive a 1099 form at the end of the year. This form is used to report income from self-employment and other sources that are not subject to withholding taxes. The amount reported on the 1099 form will be reported as taxable income when filing taxes. W2 forms, on the other hand, are issued by employers and report wages earned from employment subject to withholding taxes.

How do freelancers take out taxes?

Freelancers are responsible for their own taxes, which means they must pay estimated taxes quarterly to the IRS. This includes income tax, self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare), and other applicable local or state taxes. To determine how much you need to pay in estimated taxes each quarter, calculate your total expected taxable income for the year and divide it by four. Make sure to keep accurate records of all your expenses throughout the year so that you can take advantage of deductions when filing your return.

How do I report freelance work on my taxes?

When reporting freelance work on your taxes, you must include all income earned from self-employment. This includes any money received for services provided by freelancers or independent contractors. You should also report any expenses related to the freelance work, such as business supplies and travel costs. To accurately report this information, it is important to keep detailed records of all transactions throughout the year. Additionally, if you are an employee of a company but do occasional freelance work on the side, make sure to separate these two sources of income when filing your taxes.


Taxes for freelancers can be daunting, but with the right knowledge and resources, it doesn’t have to be. Knowing the basics of filing taxes as a freelancer, taking advantage of deductions and credits available to you, and keeping accurate records will help make your tax season easier. With all these tips in mind, you’ll be able to tackle taxes for freelancers like a pro.

Chris Muller

Chris Muller

Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He's also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter @moneymozartblog.

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