Answers like these are why I so love Jeopardy.
The correct question is, of course, "What is self-employed?"
I really wish Alex Trebek would have accepted the total tax response, "Who gets 1099 forms?" But I suspect contract killers and those who hire them don't want any paper trail.
We sole proprietors and freelancers with less criminal leanings, however, have piles of 1099s. And with the tax-filing deadline less than two weeks away, it's a good time to offer my fellow small business owners some tax tips on that and other facts of independent contractor life.
Not being one to reinvent the wheel -- plus already running behind at the start of this new month -- I beg your indulgence in my decision to simply direct you to some previous articles and blog posts you might find useful.
I'm sure all y'all know of the importance in a small business of working smarter, not harder. So here goes.
Business travel and mileage
Most business folks spend time on the road. We're heading to conferences. We're going to client meetings. We're off to the office supply store to pick up a few items. There are tax breaks associated with all these outings.
- Actual auto expenses or standard mileage rate: Which business deduction method will cut your taxes more?
- Attending South by Southwest for business? Keep careful track of your tax deductible expenses
- Be tax smart in combining business and personal travel
- Business mileage records and other Schedule C deductions
Working from home
When you aren't on the road for business reasons, you're at your office. For many self-employed folks, that's an office in your house or apartment. Your exclusive and regularly used office space can provide a good tax break, as long as you follow the Internal Revenue Service rules.
- IRS offers an easier way to deduct your home office
- The eventual, and often unexpected, tax cost of home office depreciation
Other business expenses
Then there's the stuff that's in your home office. Furniture. Phones. Computers. Here are ways to determine what you can deduct and how to convince the tax man of the write-offs in case he ever asks.
- Writing off business use of your cell phone
- What are ordinary & necessary business expenses? It depends
- 5 ways to maximize tax-deductible business entertainment
- 10 easy tax deductions for bloggers and other online businesses
- A dozen small business tax deductions
- 6 year-end tax tips for small businesses
- The importance of good, and separate, business records
Miscellaneous administrative tax stuff
Finally, there always are myriad miscellaneous tasks that don't fall into a neat category, but which must be taken care of for both business and tax reasons. Here are some that could affect your eventual self-employment tax bill.
- Hobby or business? The answer will affect your taxes
- Profit motive is critical to sustain business tax deduction claims
- Accounting for income in the proper tax year
- Don't forget to factor in self-employment taxes
- Include self-employment taxes in estimated tax payments
- Health insurance deductions for self-employed workers
That should keep all us small biz bosses busy through April 15. But hopefully, the work will help us run more profitable enterprises while paying the least possible amount to Uncle Sam.