Following tax laws is important whether you are an employee or a freelancer. But when you work independently, knowing how to manage your professional taxes can become a lot more complicated – which just means that it’s even more important for you to learn about them.
Tax laws vary from country to country, but in this post, we’ll be focusing on US-based policies. Once you have a strong grip on the tax laws that apply to you and your remote-working position, you will be able to create a much more stable and sustainable path for your career moving forward.
1. Reciprocity Agreements are Your Friend
While many states in the US will fight until they’re blue in the face for the right to tax your income, others have found a better solution: reciprocity agreements.
Reciprocity agreements are essentially legal contracts between states that allow freelancers to work for clients in a separate state without needing to file any non-resident tax returns. This makes it much easier to submit tax exemptions to your clients.
If you live in a state that offers reciprocity agreements, lucky you! If you don’t (and the option is available to you), consider moving somewhere that does.
2. Know Your State Tax Laws
As is the case with many laws in the US, tax laws tend to vary depending on which state you live in. Performing in-depth research on the way your state handles freelancer tax is crucial for adhering to the laws being mandated around you.
3. You May be Subjected to Dual Status Laws
If you work for a variety of clients that live in multiple different locations, you may be hit with a US tax law called dual status. If you’re not careful, this can result in you being taxed for different sections of the year based on the different locations that you are hired from.
Unfortunately, this can also result in double taxation. To avoid this from happening, you’ll need to do two things:
- Be honest and upfront about where you live with the IRS
- Meticulously document your invoices and receipts. If you can prove you are a legitimate freelancer with legitimate clients, it will be much easier to avoid being liable for unnecessary taxes.
4. Understand Home Office Deductions
Some remote taxpayers qualify for home office deductions which can make filing your taxes a lot easier. Unfortunately, though, this qualification is harder to achieve than you might think. If you are a remote employee, home office tax deductions may be available to you.
That means you can get a rebate or deduction for maintenance, utilities, insurance, and depreciation. However, if you are a freelancer, this option is not likely to be available to you.
5. Ensure You’re Classified Correctly
The misclassification of your role by a business can cost you (and the business) a great deal of money. Remote employees, contractors, or freelancers are all subject to different taxation laws, and you need to ensure the company you’re doing work for has classified you correctly.
This applies even if the company you’re working for isn’t based locally, as it may be considered a permanent establishment in the US regardless as it has an ongoing presence. Depending on your employment status, this can make you responsible for taxes in the US and in the business’s country of operation.
Permanent establishment risk is something the business will need to address too, but the onus is on you to ensure they classify your agreement with them correctly and can prove this.
The Bottom Line
Navigating tax laws is tough no matter what type of remote work you do, and in which capacity. But through educating yourself on the ones that apply to your profession and relative state, you can handle them like a pro.