- Put money aside for unexpected expenses
- Claim for your home office
- Act like a business
- Take pictures of your receipts
If you’re a freelancer, then you have enough to worry about without adding tax obligations to the list. But as any sole trader or freelance professional will tell you, if you don’t think about tax now then the tax department will make you think about it later. Tax is all about awareness and consistent discipline. While this sounds boring, putting a tiny amount of time aside each week can help you avoid unpleasant surprises, and minimise the effort you need to make at the end of the financial year. Here are our top tax tips for freelancers:
Put money aside for unexpected expenses
One of the major reasons that freelancers end up having to return to gainful employment is that they earn more than they expected, and are liable for a significant amount of tax as a result. Pay close attention to your incomings, and seek expert accounting advice from POP. We will tell you how much money to put aside each month to cover GST, insurance, general expenses and everything else.
Claim for your home office
And do so effectively. If you are working from home as a consultant, writer or graphic designer, then this is obviously a no-brainer. But if you are freelancing and attending client offices also, then you may not be aware of your eligibility. Along with your vehicle, your office is one of the most important claims you can make.
Act like a business
Freelancing is fun. There is no boss telling you what to do, you can set your own hours and you have a level of freedom beyond the expectations of most people. However, freelancing is simply a business with a single employee – you. Therefore, you have all the obligations related to running a business, without the infrastructure that most businesses have. It’s far easier to act like a business early in your freelancing journey than to have to patch up your mistakes later.
Use a good accounting software, seek out expert advice and have a structure in place to manage your expenses. It may be wise to separate your personal and business expenses into different bank accounts to make tax time easier and to manage minor expenses from another separate account. Why would you bother? Because good structures and straightforward systems will help you avoid unexpected tax bills.
Take pictures of your receipts
POP will help you at tax time by giving you average claim amounts and making you aware of your eligibility in certain areas. But as a freelancer, there are most likely certain expenses that go far beyond the average claimable amount. To make claims beyond levels the ATO sets, you need receipts, and to make sure you retain all your receipts you need a system. A simple, easy to use system.
You’re holding it.
Take pictures of your receipts (all of them) with your phone, and you will always have access to them. Remember to back up your phone on a regular basis, and if you are really on the ball, you may want to create a separate folder for your receipts.