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Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Sneed, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    I'm gradually picking up more and more freelance projects and was just wondering how you big-time or full-time freelancers here on SportsJournalists.com go about staying organized with all of that. Keeping track of what's due when, who's paid you and who needs a broken thumb or two, tax records, etcetera etcetera. What is your home office setup like, if you have one?
  2. ringer

    ringer Member

    If you know how to organize and pay your bills, it's kind of the same deal.

    I'd also recommend keeping a record of every invoice and check stub because tax time is pure bliss. 1099 heaven! (Be forewarned: Not every company will send you a 1099-MISC if they paid you, say, less than 500 for the year.) There's a good chance you will have to pay estimated taxes on the income every quarter, too.
  3. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I keep an Excel spreadsheet with projects, due dates, fees and when I'm paid. It's not fancy but it keeps things straight. I keep a mileage book and shove all work-related receipts into a folder. I wouldn't dream of doing my own taxes with all the deductions (home office, supplies, travel, etc.), but I compiled all the '08 info for my accountant the other day and it only took a couple hours.

    And yes, if you start getting a lot of income from freelancing, kick a little to Uncle Sam every quarter or you'll hate yourself in April.
  4. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    unless required by tax laws, why wouldn't you just put 25% from every check into some kind of account dedicated to the irs? sure, the interest you'd make might me minimal but it's more than 0%. why give the govt. your money any sooner than you have to?
  5. silvercharm

    silvercharm Member

    because there is a tax penalty if you don't contribute at least, and I believe it is, 90 percent of your estimated total tax bill by Jan. 15. they penalize by the quarter, too.
  6. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    well that sucks
  7. Hillman

    Hillman New Member

    The self-employment tax rate is 15.3%, double the FICA rate because there's no employer match.

    Self-employed workers do get a tax break, however. Half of their self-employment tax is deducted in computing adjusted gross income.

    I suggest investing $20 for a tax program such as Turbotax that walks an individual through the return. It's much cheaper and easier than hiring a professional preparer.
  8. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    The folks I know trying to make a go of it by freelancing start out with the intention to divert 30 percent of it to quarterly tax payments or next year's tax bill. But then silly distractions like groceries, mortgage, car notes, heating and electric bills crop up, and that plan gets derailed. So they have to scramble and dig deep on April 15.
  9. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    That was me on my first tax day as a full-time freelancer. I just didn't know sh*t and paid dearly. But for years my accountant has set up a quarterly plan for me and I stick to it as if April 15 was a 4-times-a-year occurrence. Because it really is if you're on your own. Paying the non-payment penalties is just flushing money away.
  10. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    What exactly do you get hit with non-payment penalties for? "Not paying...." Yeah I caught that. But what, exactly, and when? Just not reporting all of your income? Do you have to pay taxes more than once a year? What do you guys mean by setting up a quarterly plan?
  11. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    You get hit for non-payment penalties because you can't just hoard all your freelance cash and write a big check on April 15. The government wants its cut more regularly than that. I don't know what the penalty is, but like silvercharm said, you have to have paid the bulk of your tax nut well before April 15 or you'll get hit for something.

    If you owed, say, $6k in taxes one year, you should set up a plan for the following year of $1500 per quarter to the Man. The gov't has forms for it, of course.
  12. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    My wife is a freelancer. The last time we tried TurboTax it told us we owed Uncle Sam more than $3000. We went to a tax pro with experience doing taxes for journalists and ended up getting a refund.

    If you have someone who knows what he or she is doing, I think the paid preparer is the way to go.
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