ZOMG TAXES! Here's some help with your Schedule C.
Taxes for most humans are a boring, but relatively quick and harmless process.
Taxes for a freelancer, however, are a dystopian hellscape. Your 1099s are always late, your receipts are sweaty and faded, and, most importantly, you have NO CLUE how much you made this year or how much you owe.
Fear not. I am no CPA, but I have seven years experience slogging through this tripe salad and I know my way around Excel. I can help you organize your Schedule C to send to an accountant, help you sort and categorize your expenses, and give you a crude estimate of what you will owe.
You will want to fill this out sequentially as follows:
1) First, you download your credit card expenses to the 4th tab, 'CC expenses'. Ideally, you have a business credit card and can download in a .CSV directly from your credit card website. If not, you will have to clean up this tab a bit. Sort by name for ease of use and review, deleting unnecessary expenses as needed. This is tedious but easier than tracking receipts. You'll want to add to this any cash or cheque expenses you can remember over the course of the year. An easy way to track, besides bank statements, is to put them into your online calendar, then around tax time search for "coaching" or "lesson".
2) As a reminder of what you can expense as a freelancer, I've included the third tab, 'Categories Schedule C'. Note, these overall categories are very important: you'll have to input these in your Schedule C if you want to deduct business income. Also note, when you are calculating Meals and Entertainment, you don't need receipts. The easy, breezy, Cover-girl way is to take 50% of your M&IE per diem, counting your travel days as half a day. (In tabs 5 and 6 are per diems for US and Canada, respectively.)
Your schedule C Expense Categories include the following:
Car and Truck Expenses:
Out of town Travel
Education (drive to school)
Meetings (seeing singers for dinner or coffee)
Rideshare, in town (Uber, Lyft, Zipcar)
Online adwords Facebook/Google/Instagram
Print media ad buy/Mailers
Website Development and Hosting
PR & Marketing Rep
Commissions & Fees Paid
Dance Training/Alexander Technique
Mortgage Interest Paid
Legal and Professional Services
CPA, Accountant, Lawyer
A/V set up (ex: camera/tripod/Zoom H2)
Software (Office 365 subscription, 4Score)
Musical instruments (digital piano)
Postage and Office Supplies
Shared office (Wework)
Recording/practice/teaching studio rental
Tuxes, Tails, Suits, Gowns
Other (ex: headphones, humidiflyer)
Public Transit (Ex: NYC subway pass)
Rideshare, out-of-town (Uber/Lyft/Zipcar)
Meals & Entertainment
Any meals travelling (50%)
3) In the second tab of the excel sheet, you will see six columns: Category (a drop down menu, based on the Schedule C categories above), Description, Income USD/CDN and Expense USD/CDN. I've included some sample deductions from my own taxes and sample gigs at the bottom. If it's income, put it under Income column; if it's a deduction you put it under the expense column. Easy enough! The formulas should add it all up at the end to show your gross income, deductions, and net income. Note that this is only showing freelancer income, your W2/Wages will be recorded separately in your taxes under wages.
This is the incredibly tedious part. You will need to comb through your 1099s, credit cards, receipts, emails, and your calendar for all of this. In a perfect world, everyone has sent you a 1099 with time to spiare, and you have put everything on your Chase Sapphire Card and this will be just an exercise in putting expenses into categories. (Note for next year: use a business credit card for everything.)
4) Finally, your estimated taxes is in the first tab. This should calculate automatically based on your Schedule C work form in the second tab. There are two options for what you can expect in federal taxes: filing single/married but filing separately OR filing as married jointly. (Note: this spreadsheet tab is heavily inspired by the work of reddit /personal finance user wijwijwij.)
Once you finish this sheet, you or your CPA will be ready to fill out a Schedule C. The worst part of your taxes is now prepped. Huzzah!
Ideas for next year:
Get a business chequing account and a business credit card with great travel perks (for another post, but [MOST TRAVELED AIRLINE] or Chase Sapphire is a great bet.) This way you can track your expenses easily.
If you are drowning in 1099s and you need to send invoices regularly, an online monthly program like Quickbooks Self-employed is a great option. Their software makes my spreadsheet look like caveman art.
For scanning 1099s and receipts and other key tax items, I highly recommend a scanning app like Expensify or Concur SAP. It is much faster than a home scanner, you can do it on the road, and upload automatically your tax cloud folder for easy access.
Get a CPA! Best money you will ever spend as a freelancer.
T-minus two weeks and counting till tax day...good luck!