Any freelancing job comes with the added fun of being your own accountant. Sure, you’re your own boss too, but now you’ve got to handle all the finances yourself. You need to make sure you’re working enough to live, a little extra if you’ve got something to save for, and, crucially, that you are doing your taxes right.
It’s already a hassle doing your own taxes every year, so to shake up the routine for the sake of taxing a freelance job can feel like a headache. If you’re having trouble, take a look at these tips to help make your taxes easier.
Don’t mix personal and business
You might have decided that, since you are the sole trader of your business, and the bank therefore doesn’t require it, you’ll not bother with a business bank account. That’s fine; however, not recommended. Keep your personal finances separated from your business for a lot of reasons.
For one thing, it will stop you just from spending business money on a new pair of shoes you just had to have, or personal money set for the utilities on an unexpected business bill. A little bit here and there can lead to more. Keeping the two separate will keep you from confusing the two, when looking at your account, which tend to present everything as one big pot.
By keeping business and personal accounts separate, you will see clearly how much money is tied up in business, how much to budget for costs, and you won’t have to decide which expenses are business related down the line.
Keep all your documents digital
There are a lot of logical reasons to keep your documents digitally stored. There is the obvious, that it lowers physical clutter, keeps things accessible, provides a backup, etc., but it also makes everything a lot easier to find. If life had a search tab, we’d never have to have a hide-a-key.
When it comes to taxes, you need to keep a hold of all your documents for at least five years after the 31 January tax deadline. That’s a lot of documents to go hunting through for something that happened five years ago.
This is important for purchases and expenses. Expenses are one of the few ways you can reduce your taxable income, and there are a lot of expenses that you can gain in a year. But getting your expenses wrong could be a tax liability. The taxman is going to need proof of all of these expenses in order to write them off, and they will be a lot easier to find and present to the taxman if they’re not in a huddled pile in a drawer in your office.
Another tip is to file them in chronological order and label them with a date so that you can easily pull them. There are lots of accounting software out there to help you with this. When it comes to creating a digital copy, you can invest in a scanner to make things clearer.
Stick to a routine
One of the main perks of freelancing is the flexible working schedule, which can be tempting to sway from anyway, so it’s important that you find some semblance of a schedule. But when it comes to accounting, it’s vital. The flexible work routine doesn’t really hand itself to accounting as you will need to be prompt with everything you are doing.
It’s recommended that you get a little done every day, rather than a lot done in a week. Set aside at least 30 minutes every day to file your documents as you need to to keep everything in order. Keep it to raising invoices, adding expenses, and reviewing reports on your dashboard and you’re done until January. It’s a case where a little tedium now will save you a lot of stress down the line.
Keep track of all sources of income
If you are freelancing, it’s likely you will have various sources of income, various clients hiring you for your work, various rates of work done for various people. Keeping track of all this is a lot easier with the new addition of online banking, and it’s important that you use it in your bookkeeping. There is accounting software that can help you here. You can link your bank feeds to the accounting software so that the software can do all the heavy lifting of tracking your accounts. Plus, your cloud-stored files will be available to the software for you to pull out as you need it.
Get professional help when you need it
Unfortunately, some of us simply don’t have the mind for numbers, never mind accounting. It’s a tedious process, with consequences if we get it wrong – and there is a lot of room for error.
If you find yourself struggling, there is nothing wrong with consulting a professional. You can hand over all your accounts and documents to a freelancer accountant to deal with and trust that they have your taxes handled. With the finances looked after, you can keep focused on growing your business. Growing your business will mean more income, and more income will mean more work for the accountant to get done.
Of course, all this will be moot if the freelance job you’re looking for is in accounting. Then you’ve just got a side task to get done.