Tax-man, tax-man, go away!

March 20, 2008

Let me just say as a freelancer, I still very much hate filing taxes. I’m not an accountant (though I wish I had one!), and taxtime fills me with impending dread. Schedule C, forms, paperwork, deductions, expenses, assets…. For me it’s blinding. Yesterday I tackled my taxes, and while it didn’t take as long as I expected, there were a lot of things I found eating up my time. And a lot of time spent gnashing my teeth about the money I’m soon to owe sweet lady IRS. (IRS honey, let’s talk! Please don’t break my kneecaps or bankrupt me!) Needless to say it’s going to take many years to be comfortable about this, but this is what I’ve started to learn so far:

  •  Document everything. You’re a freelancer, do you have a home office? Keep track of the square yardage of your dwelling and the office, and then make sure you keep track on the utilities and rent and all (and everything you buy or fix in it) so you can be compensated for it. Did you buy art supplies? Decorations for the studio? Media? If you can honestly justify it as being research or work related, it can count. And don’t forget cost of mailing/advertisement/gas mileage for the business..
  • By documenting everything I mean DOCUMENT everything. Keep a book, or use Excel, or get a program, but every expense should be kept track of. It really comes in handy. (It also makes you realize you may have a problem when you add up all your art supply bills. I know it did for me) I grant you I didn’t really do this– I just went through my Paypal history and my bank history for the past year and added it up, but I’m going to implement it this year for 2009’s filing.
  • Try and keep your paperwork organized. I couldn’t find some of my paperwork right off the bat and freaked out, thinking I threw it away.
  • Pay and file quarterly so that the tax owed is not a big shock like it was for me.
  •  When you get payments from jobs, set aside some of it into savings so you will have the money no problem!
  • Don’t live check-to-check like me!
  • If you can find one, an accountant sounds like the way to go– one who works with creative people, and knows what that means in a financial setting.

Any other ideas for easing that tax burden, I’d love to hear. I’m hoping I’ll implement all this stuff next year, because I’m tired of dreading April, really!


We here at Trade Secrets are hoping to move the blog to a domain so we can revamp the site with a super-cool design (trust me, I peeked). But we’re having a little trouble figuring out a domain name to register. and its ilk are all gone.  We have a couple of ideas, like,, but how memorable will they be? I’m not certain. I’d love to hear your suggestions and maybe we can figure out a good new domain together! We’re aiming to keep the TS name, but what else could work?


7 Responses to “Tax-man, tax-man, go away!”

  1. DH. said is available! [Note to self: rent Spaceballs again…]

  2. DH. said

    Oops, meant to put in my serious comment, too:

  3. kyle said

    first, love the site. Just found it yesterday but am already a fan. I hear you on the fear of taxes. And as far as the domain goes, here’s some of my ideas:

    1. (shorten the name)
    2. (reverse the names)
    3. (it’s all backwards)

    I don’t know, but that’s what I could come up with.

  4. kontur said

    Nice to see some posting to this site here again. Although from europe, the taxing seems to be an equally big pain just about everywhere – thanks for sharing your suggestions.

    If you need help with coding a theme for wordpress, feel free to contact me, I’d be glad to help – as for the domain name, illustrationsecrets._anything_ seems to be available.

  5. Lee said

    tradesecretsredrawn or reborn etc or moretradesecrets and so on although themotherofalltradesecrets may be a tad too long.

  6. In canada there is the added bonus of collecting GST/HST and paying that off by the end of the year as well as keeping track of GST credits from you own business purchases.

  7. Hyedie said

    I’m doing my taxes right now!

    In addition to what Jamie worte, some things in Canada that you can write off are:

    – interest incurred on your mortgage, line of credit/loan for your business
    – moving expenses if you moved that year for a job or school

    Also as a self-employed person filing taxes, I found using tax software (I used QuickTax) that has great wizards, I didn’t have to go any of the hard calculations on Cost Capital Allowance, percentages of rent/mortgage, etc.

    I’m definitely going to continue doing my own taxes using Quicktax and save on hiring an accountant!

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