Planning for taxes? 4 biggest mistakes freelancers make

Oct 27, 2015

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

Freelancing — it’s great until April 15 comes around and you haven’t got the money to pay the IRS. Or almost as bad, remembering to pay up but getting hit with penalties for poor planning.

Below are the 4 biggest mistakes freelancers make when planning for taxes:

Not submitting quarterly estimated taxes

Quarterly estimated taxes are the payments that self-employed people usually need to make four times a year to the IRS.

You generally have to make estimated tax payments if you expect to owe tax of $1,000 or more when you file your return.

Penalties can vary for not filing quarterly — that’s money that no one likes to lose.

It doesn’t matter if you use an accountant or file your taxes yourself, if you’re a 1099 employee or a freelancer, it’s up to you to file your taxes four times a year and to make sure you’ve got the money set aside to pay them.

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Not charging what you’re worth

Ine of the top mistakes we see is freelancers offering to do work for too little or neglecting to ask for a deposit in an advance of services.

That’s how self-employed workers end up getting squeezed. Don’t discount yourself!

Remember, your rates need to cover not just the work, but your operating overheads, taxes, health insurance and pull in a profit.

You’ve got the skills to pay the bills — step up and demand what you need to get the job done.

Not taking into account the cycle of your business

Are you crazed in the summer but have a lot of down time in the fall?

Make sure you budget for slow seasons so you’re not pinched after putting money away for taxes.

Writing everything off

Think you can write off your rent, car and new fall wardrobe? Think again.

Tempting as it may be, weird write-offs can make you vulnerable to an audit.

Talk to your accountant or check with if you’re unsure. Know what you owe.

If you’re suddenly filled with panic, don’t worry. There’s still time to get your quarterly taxes together for January 2016.

Want to make savings for taxes automatic? Qapital's Freelancer Rule lets you automatically put aside money for your annual or quarterly estimated taxes without breaking a sweat.

George Friedman is the CEO of Qapital, a new banking app that helps people save for the things they want. Before that, he worked for Nomura on Wall Street and Avanza Bank out of Stockholm.