Tuesday, April 17, 2007

ESL Tutoring and Self-Employment

Today is tax day in the U.S. While there are many upsides to being self-employed, there are also a few downsides. Today is a downside. This is not tax advice for ESL tutors or any other self-employed person. It's just the stuff that I have to take care of to meet my obligations to the U.S. and state governments.

As a self-employed person, I have to keep a lot of records. I have to record all the payments I receive from my students (which I do by writing each payment in a receipt book and I also give my students a receipt), I have to keep all the receipts for expenses I have, such as copy expenses, office expenses, ESL books, and other ESL resources. I also keep receipts for classes I take that help me to become a better ESL tutor. All of these receipts are very important because they help me to reduce my tax liability, and especially the dreaded self-employment tax.

I teach in a coffee shop, so I am also able to deduct 50% of the money I spend there on things like coffee when I am meeting with students. I have a home office that I use to prepare all my lessons, etc., but I don't deduct a portion of my rent as a business expense because I don't use my home office regularly and exclusively (I think those are the tax terms) for my business (although many friends have pointed out that I actually do use it this way).

Many self-employed people use programs like Quicken for record-keeping. Although record-keeping is a pain in the neck, my income and expenses are fairly simple so I use Microsoft Excel to record all my business transactions.

Again, this isn't meant to be tax advice, just a list of the things that are on my mind today, tax day. And because life happens and things unexpected happen, I'll actually be filing an extension and estimated payments today. I'll worry about my taxes tomorrow. After all, tomorrow's another day.

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