Taxes For Artists, Freelancers & Other Nice People

4 Steps To A Victorious Appointment

  1. Upload your tax forms
    • Good pictures or scans work.
    • If you aren’t sure what to include, check out the FAQs.
  2. Information & Figure out and submit your expenses
    • This is how you save money. Don’t be lazy, it’s rude to yourself.
    • Just do your best on this. We'll go over it all when we meet.
    • If you need to add more expenses, just make another one called “Your Name-2″
  3. Schedule an appointment
    • In real life or on Skype.
    • Discounts for coming before Feb. 28th or March 20th or after April 15th.
    • Returning clients who don’t need to meet get the pre-March price. See FAQs.
  4. Come to your appointment
    • People procrastinate on #1 and #2, so they reschedule. Don’t do that. Get it over with, you’ll feel better.
    • Have your bank account # and routing # with you. It’s on a check.
    • We accept Venmo (sign up, it's good), cash, check, and (for a 3% fee) credit cards.
    • If you didn’t see us last year, bring last year's tax return if you have it.

I want to submit my info and expenses to you in preparation for our meeting

Expense Form

I’d like to securely send you my tax stuff.

Secure Upload

Schedule some
face to face time

Appointments

FAQs

Why can’t I just send you my spreadsheet instead of filling out the Brass Taxes Expenses Form?

There are a number of reasons.

First, you are better at interpreting what we need than for us to guess at how you chose to organize things. If your spreadsheet is really easy for us to understand, uses the same categories as the Brass Taxes Expense Summary, then it will be really easy for you to put that in our Expense Summary. If it doesn’t use our categories, we can’t interpret it to figure out where things should go. We don’t want to guess.

Moving forward, after you go through our Expense Summary you can see what categories we need and you can keep your spreadsheet in these categories. Making next year really, really easy.

Most people are keeping track of expenses just for tax time, so there’s no need for them to be very specific. Just get them into the categories they need to be in for taxes and put those totals in the Brass Taxes Expense Summary and, poof, you’re done.

But if that’s not enough to convince you…

–The Expense Summary captures a lot of information we need about you and your return, even if you’re not claiming expenses.

–The tax software we use (which, by the way, is NOT TurboTax), needs the numbers in those categories on the Expense Summary.

And finally:

Our rates are based in part around getting that information from you in the Expense Summary. If we had to do that work for you, we’d have to charge more. A lot more.

What types of forms do I upload? What if I don’t have a scanner?

Upload all those tax, end of year, type forms. W-2, 1099, Student Loans, 1098, mortgage interest, Bank interest, 1099 INT, 1099 Div, Stock trades. Stuff like that.

If you don’t have a scanner you can take a good, clear picture and upload it with your phone or camera. If your w2 only has 1 state listed we don’t need to see all the copies.

And do the expenses form. Doing it before you come makes the most difference in how well we can do your taxes.

Huzzah!

Should I come to Brass Taxes?

Doing your taxes yourself is like playing a video game once a year. You get to a castle and you have to figure out how to get in but now you have a flute and last year you had the sword and the googling begins. “flute no sword castle” “sword last year flute this year” etc.

You’re not going to be that good, it’ll take a long time, and whatever you learn you’ll only vaguely remember next time you have to do it.

A tax person does this all the time. They are good at this game. They know the rules without thinking and they can make sure you are getting what you’re entitled to and not doing stuff that is wrong and could be trouble down the line. They are the liaison between present you and future you.

If you have expenses from being an untaxed freelancer or if you are itemizing your expenses I think a tax preparer can help. If you just have a w-2 and student loans or something I think you can do that yourself.

Once you get into the gray area of “Can I do this?” “Is this legit?”, I think it’s worth seeing someone. They should more than cover their additional costs by saving you money you would have missed, making sure it’s done right, and saving you time.

Are you a CPA?

Nope. Rus is an Enrolled Agent.

Oh! What’s an Enrolled Agent? Enrolled Agent is the highest accreditation that the IRS offers. Licensed to represent clients and non clients in front of the the IRS. It has been around longer than the CPA designation, it started due to the Horse Act of 1884 because people were cheating the government by claiming made up horses they lost during the Civil War. So the government wanted the people helping them to be held accountable. So ‘Enrolled Agents’ were created.

I’m a returning client. Do I need to come in? What’s the deal?

If not much has changed in your work life (haven’t gotten married or divorced, do basically the same work) and you have been comfortable with the process from other years you can submit your forms and expenses online and email after you have done all that. Send an email with the subject “GO AHEAD” and we’ll get going on your taxes. If we have questions or you do, we’ll email. In addition to the $25 discount you can also receive other discounts if they apply, like coming earlier in the year.

If you are a returning client and prefer to meet via skype or in person, please do. I enjoy seeing everyone. I created the option for us to do everything online because some people don’t want to meet and this is easier for Brass Taxes because we can work on our own schedule and so we offer a discount.

How do I pay you? Can you take it from my refund?

Unfortunately, there’s a fee if we take it from your refund, and we’d like to avoid dumb fees when possible. We use Venmo for payments because there are no fees attached.

I have a number of interesting jobs and sources of income. Am I self-employed? Do I have to worry about saving for taxes?

When it comes to the question of self-employment, the government cares less about what you did, and more about how you got paid. If someone’s giving you a W-2 and withholding your taxes, then you’re considered their employee – straight up. However, if you’re getting little 1099s in the mail, or if you just got a personal check, then you’re an independent contractor…and responsible for paying taxes on that income yourself. The silver lining to that burden is that your expenses are way more likely to benefit your bottom line – where W-2 employees deduct expenses from their income (and that’s rarely more than the standard deduction offered), the self-employed deduct expenses before calculating their income. Nice.

OK, I’m definitely self-employed and I definitely want to deduct my expenses! What information do I need to give you?

Before we meet, you’ll be asked to fill out an expenses form. If an expense is considered reasonable and common to your field of work, it can be deducted before calculating your income. Think broadly about what you spend money on that could be associated with your business. For instance, if you’re a graphic designer, the movies you see and the galleries you visit may qualify as research – after all, the art you experience enriches your work!

I’m definitely self-employed, but I didn’t get a 1099 from everybody. Is that OK?

Not to worry! The 1099 is really more for your employers’ benefit. If you know how much they paid you (via bank statements, checks, etc), we can figure out your income even without a 1099. Next question is usually, “Do I have to pay taxes on it if I didn’t get a 1099?”. Yes, you’re responsible for reporting all your income. And figure if it went in the bank it’s quite obvious and you’d have to explain that to the IRS what that money is. Just claim it, it’s easier.

Is it true that I can deduct meals? I eat with my peers/co-workers all the time!

If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, meals can only be deducted when they’re connected to a business purpose. If you take a potential client out for drinks, that’s deductible! If you have a meeting with a client, and then go get a burger with them, that’s deductible! If you go to happy hour with pals in the same profession and talk shop…that ain’t. There has to be a clear, financial goal related to the wining & dining, so write that down on the receipt.

Can I just make an appointment, bring all my documents, and let you add them up then?

The time we have together is best spent figuring out some deductibles you may have missed and dealing with any questions, so why watch us enter data? The more information we have in advance, the better.

Do I have to report all my income?

If you received a W-2 or a 1099 in the mail, the government got one too, so you’re not fooling anyone if you don’t acknowledge it at tax time. Companies are required to send statements to anyone they paid more than $600 in the year – if you earned that much from a job and haven’t received one, make sure you do. If someone paid you less than $600, and didn’t give you a 1099, you’re still responsible for reporting all your income.   Yes, cash and all.

If it went in the bank, it’s not ‘under the table’ and as far as the govt goes, nothing should be under the table.  If you don’t report 25% or more of your income then you’re committing tax evasion.  That’s right, a felony.  Not cool.

“Under the table” sounds cute, friendly, but “Tax Evasion” does not sound like something you want to be associated with.  These are just two ways of saying the same thing.

What’s the deal with an extension?

If you need more time to get your return together, you can get an automatic six month extension from the April 15 deadline. While you can push back the deadline on your paperwork, you sadly can’t push back the deadline on what you owe – any amount due you don’t pay will have interest applied when you do. If the bill is your only concern, it’s best to file on time and pay what you can. The IRS will then send you a balance due.

I sent all my stuff in, but I just got another 1099 in the mail that I forgot about. What do I do now?

Happens! Thankfully, there’s a form we can mail to amend your tax return if it has already been filed. Let us know quickly, though – New York State only allows an amendment for 90 days after filing. It’s usually just $50 for us to prepare an amended return.

I was thinking about forming an LLC or Corporation. Is that a good idea?

While creating a corporation or an LLC sure seems business-like, there are some downsides you should consider. NYC doesn’t recognize the existence of S corporations, so you’re taxed at a C-Corp’s rate (about 8%), which negates any tax savings from avoiding self employment tax on your non salary distribution. S corporations, partnerships and non-solely owned LLC also require another tax return, further reducing your savings.

The primary reason to form one of these entities is if you’re worried about being sued, as it reduces liability. However, if your business doesn’t come with that kind of risk, here’s a worthwhile alternative to consider: set up a DBA (Doing Business As – about $90), get an EIN (Employer Identification Number – free!), and buy insurance if you’re still a little concerned about liability. DBAs still allow you to write and receive checks out as a company, without the tax hassle. If you have a partner, one can own the company, and have a good contract written up and split your profit any way you decide.