Tax Deductions for the Self-Employed

Gina Deveney
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When doing taxes for the self-employed, it is important to find every tax deduction. Self-employed clients typically have a low profit margin and a variety of business expenses without the advantages of the support and buying power of a large organization. Help the self-employed set up a system for keeping track of work-related expenses, including these often overlooked self-employment tax deductions.

Travel Expenses

Even people who work from home usually have travel-related business expenses. Encourage self-employed clients to keep track of their mileage while running business-related errands. Parking counts too, as well as the fare paid when taking public transportation. Take a look at longer trips. If the self-employed worker met with clients and discussed business, many of the expenses related to the trip may be deductible.

Office Supplies

The cost of office supplies adds up quickly. Remind clients to save receipts for printer paper and ink, notebooks, pens and pencils, and any other office supplies they use in their day-to-day work. Larger pieces of equipment are typically at least partially deductible if used regularly for work. This includes computers and printers. Encourage clients to be honest when deciding what percentage of the time a device serves as a work tool. Having a written technology statement helps clarify the use of a device in the advent of an IRS audit.


The costs associated with fine-tuning your skills or staying up to date on the latest technology are typically education-related tax deductions for self-employed workers. Don't forget to ask about membership fees for professional organizations or the cost of industry-related magazines and books. These items are frequently overlooked but are considered necessities in many self-employment fields. Educational software and subscriptions to work-related websites are also included here.


Most clients remember to deduct large business essentials, but smaller pieces of equipment are easily overlooked. Ask clients if they use any safety equipment, such as protective eyewear, fire extinguishers or work gloves. A writer might invest in an ergonomic chair or a monitor lift to prevent repetitive-stress injuries from long hours spent writing. Clothing is deductible only if it is used exclusively for business and it is not suitable for everyday wear. For example, a protective jumpsuit with a business logo that is worn only while the person is on service calls is deductible, but a standard business suit is not.

Health Insurance

Self-employed workers often pay full health insurance premiums for themselves and their dependents. Don't miss this large tax deduction. Use the Self-Employed Health Insurance Deduction Worksheet from the IRS to calculate the appropriate tax deduction for each individual's circumstances. Encourage clients to get paperwork together in December to avoid last-minute rushing when tax day draws near.

Self-employed workers aren't always aware of all the tax deductions they are eligible to take. Invest extra time to counsel self-employed individuals, providing advice on available deductions and the record keeping necessary to track expenses. Saving money at tax time creates satisfied self-employed customers willing to promote your practice to their self-employed friends.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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