View Full Version : How to file tax return for freelance illustrator

11-01-2004, 09:01 PM
Hi, I'm new to the freelance illustration business. I think it will be nice to ask here since most of you are work as freelance as well.
I'm live in Califorina, currently working comission art, work for hire for a publisher and one childern book (I will get the royalty after the book is publish.) Unlike company job with W-2 form at the end of the year, I don't know how to file my income tax return as freelance.

Which form I should file?
What kind of income I should file?
What thing I should aware when I file the tax return?
Should I keep all the receipt when I buy my tool and report it as expense?

Since I don't think I would earn enough to hire an accountant this year, I have to do it myself. :(

Is there any book or website do you guys recommand to take a look?

11-02-2004, 09:17 AM
Honestly, your best resource is the IRS website. (http://www.irs.org/) Lots of information, all the forms, and you can even call them with questions.

This topic comes up often in artist forums. There are plenty of folks willing to help and give advice. But none of us are accountants (my wife is, though!). I say anybody who asks an artist for tax advice is really asking for it! :)


11-02-2004, 05:23 PM
Ahmen - Ted!

I'm no expert but here is at least some of what you'll need.

Form 1040 - individual income tax return
Schedule C - profit or loss from business
Schedule SE - self-employment tax for individuals

Mine from last year had those plus another 9-10 forms and schedules, for things like interest and dividends, child and dependent care expenses, underpayment of estimated tax by individuals (oops), retirement contributions, you'll need W-2's and W-9's and on and on, etc, etc...

I pay to have mine done, it is more than worth it! It usually costs me around $200.00 - $250.00USD. Even when I thought I couldn't afford it, it was worth it as he was able to find things that I overlooked or didn't know about and kept me from having to pay the IRS or the State too much.

Infact the first two years I was in business, the withholding from my wifes W-2 was enough to offset what I owed in self-employment tax and we were able to break even (not have to pay anything). That's changed now as I make quite a bit more than in the beginning.

You might get a better deal if you go to one of those chain type places like H&R Block or Sprint Tax or something. Plus if you have anything coming back you can use that to pay the accountant. Have someone help you though.

11-02-2004, 05:30 PM
BTW - ouch2, welcome to the Illustration forum, nice to have you!

One other thing, you asked if you needed to keep your reciepts, the answer is yes, keep them all. Also, if you do any driving for your business, even if it's to Kinkos for copys, you need to keep track of your mileage. You get a deduction for it. If you are working from home you can deduct for a home office (which includes a portion of your utilities). Got a cell phone for your business? That's deductible too.

All this is why you really need to talk to an accountant.

11-02-2004, 07:24 PM
Well, there you go again, Dave, giving good, practical advice.

Off topic, but what the heck is this smilie :cat: supposed to represent????

11-02-2004, 09:04 PM
who doesnt like cats ^.^ :cat: :cat: :cat: :envy: <--- now this one? heh. boggles my mind. And the black smily face on MSN.

11-02-2004, 10:05 PM
Thanks for the advice!!

Paying $200 to get the tax return done...a bit too much for me...lol
I will look into those tax form for sure.
Form 1040 - individual income tax return
Schedule C - profit or loss from business
Schedule SE - self-employment tax for individuals
Time to save up all recepit and my money for this year :)

Acutually I'm not too new here..my old user ID (ouch) has some login error, I can't get back the password even I request it many times. :(

11-04-2004, 09:56 AM
Ted - I have yet to figure out the cat smiley. My best guess is that it is meant to represent coyness. (hey whatta ya know, that is a word, I just looked it up!)

Ouch2 - best of luck on your returns!