True story: I helped my boyfriend, who was an independent contractor for most of 2015, with his taxes, and I saved him about $2,000. How? I have a better memory than he does, as well as a better understanding of deductions for freelancers and self-employed people, seeing as I did it for years. Here are a few things to remember when filing yours.
1. Did you move? My boyfriend accidentally listed himself as a New York state resident for the entire year 2015. We didn’t move to New York until July 2015. By changing that one detail, I saved him $1,475 in New York state taxes and even got him money back from our previous state of residence. What’s more, if you moved for work, you may be eligible to deduct moving expenses from your taxes.
2. Were you looking for work? If so, you’re eligible to deduct some of those costs: Part of your Internet bill, mileage on your car when trekking to interviews, gas, MetroCards, your new suit for your first day, etc.
3. Did you go to the doctor? You can write off certain premiums and co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions. Thanks, Obama!
4. Did you pay sales tax on a big ticket item? If you bought something pricey, like a sturdy new set of furniture, a diamond (ugh) bracelet, a fancy sofa, a Picasso, or a pricey plane ticket, you’re in luck: If your state doesn’t have its own income tax, you can deduct sales taxes off your federal income tax. Keep your receipts!
5. Are you a teacher? Not everyone appreciates you, but oddly enough the IRS is willing to cut you a bit of a break: You can write up to $250 off your taxes for out-of-pocket supplies and expenses for your classes.
6. Did you volunteer or donate to charity? This works a few ways: If you volunteered for, say, a bake sale, you can write off the ingredients you used to bake for it. If you donated to a tax-deductible organization, you can write off the amount. If you were out volunteering, you can write off the gas and mileage or train tickets you used to get there, as well as payments to a babysitter who watched your kids while you were out.
7. Did you go back to school? According to TurboTax, “the Lifetime Learning credit can shave off up to $2,000 per year, taking off 20 percent of the first $10,000 you spend for education after high school in an effort to give you new or improved job skills.” Nice!
8. Do you have weird business expenses? As freelancers who often write about pop culture, we’re able to deduct things like movie tickets, MP3s, comics, and even action figures if it related to our work. If you’re, say, a painter who sometimes makes a mess, you can deduct cleaning supplies from your taxes. If you’re a bodybuilder, you can deduct oil and carcinogenic tans. Embrace it! Be creative!