The first time I filed my taxes as a freelancer, I had no idea what I was doing. I had been setting aside money every time I got paid to cover my taxes, but when it came to deducting expenses, I was clueless.
When it was all said and done, I tried to file my taxes myself but ended up calling in an accountant for help. She walked me through the entire process and helped me find some expenses I had no idea I could claim as a business expense. So, if you're new to freelancing, you can't miss these surprising tax deductions:
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Your home office
Even though you work from home, or maybe from the corner table in your favorite coffee shop, having a dedicated space for working has its perks. As long as you have a place in your home that is used only for work and you use it regularly, you can deduct a portion of your mortgage or rent on your taxes.
If you travel for you work, you can deduct those expenses on your taxes. To qualify for this deduction, your travel must be work related. If you travel for professional development, to conferences or training, you can write off the cost. Travel to meet with clients or to do research counts as well.
Food and drink
Yes, you really can write off food and drink if you're a freelancer. There are some guidelines you can't miss when it comes to this surprising deduction. Grabbing coffee to work solo at a coffee shop doesn't qualify as a business expense. But, if you meet with a client for coffee or a meal, 50 percent of the cost can be deducted on your taxes. You can also write off half your food and drink expenses if you are traveling for work.
Don't toss your receipt next time you head to the bookstore. If you are a freelancer reading anything related to professional development or if the reading materials you are buying are for research purposes, they can count as a business expense.
Your phone bill
If you are using your phone for work, you can write off a portion of the expense. Making phone calls to clients or spending time on the phone conducting interviews for a story are probably all done on your personal cell phone. An accountant can help you figure out exactly how much to write off, but it's based on an estimate of how much time spent on your phone is devoted to work.
There is nothing more annoying than a client who doesn't pay an invoice. There is good news — if you have unpaid invoices at the end of the year, you can write them off as a loss if you are self-employed.