Freelancing in the Language Industry: Planning for Tax Season


One thing I never considered as I started my career as a freelance interpreter and translator was taxes. Here are a couple of tips I wish someone had shared with me as I started my freelancing career.

Consult with an Accountant or Tax Expert

And do it early in your first year as a freelancer, maybe even while still considering the possibility. I have usually prepared and filed my own taxes, with the exception of a few years where life changes pushed me to consult with a professional. Becoming a freelance interpreter was one of those times. However, had I consulted with a tax expert or accountant at the start of my freelancing career, filing taxes my first year with self-employed income would have been a lot easier.

Track your Expenses

When you consult with an accountant or tax expert, be sure to ask about deductible expenses. It is important to keep track of non-reimbursable mileage and other business expenses (like CAT tool licensing fees and steno pad purchase receipts). When talking to your accountant or tax expert, be sure to mention all programs, services, and goods that you will be using for your freelancing business and ask questions about receipts, mileage, and other proof and records you may need to maintain.

Track your Revenue

It is also important to keep track of how much you are earning. You may be working for one or multiple clients (agencies, organizations, etc.) who should provide you with a 1099 accounting for everything they paid you during the year. However, it is important to keep your own records and compare them against the 1099 provided to you by your client(s).

As you get started, tracking all of your revenue and expenses may be easy, however, as your freelancing business grows, you may need to invest in a program that can help you. There are a number of options for small business and the self-employed. Some have free versions with limited functionality and others even incorporate tax preparation software. It is important to look at the various options and find the one that best fits your needs. As far as pricing, there are many options for less than $10 a month. If there is a particular tool, software, or program you like or would recommend to your fellow interpreters and translators, please share in the comment section below.

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