Being a freelancer or owning your own web design business comes with plenty of perks: working in a field you find personally interesting, setting your own hours, and running your business your own way are some of the big ones. However, one of the biggest drawbacks to owning a business happens when your tax bill comes due.
Understanding taxes is one of the most important aspects of running a business, but it can also be one of the most complicated and intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Quarterly estimated tax, deductions, expenses, and penalties are just a few of the many business realities that can influence your tax burden. Let’s look at the types of tax deductions for web designers and provide some useful web design tax filing guidelines.
The Importance of Tax for Web Design Companies
All service-based businesses, including web design, must identify and pay their taxes to both local and national governments. Taxes are essential sources of revenue for governments and help build and maintain essential infrastructures, promote economic growth, and pay public workers. As a web design business owner, you should always ensure you’re on the right side of the law by complying with tax regulations.
Failure to comply with tax regulations can result in a government audit of your finances by the Internal Revenue System. This can lead to monetary penalties as the government attempts to recoup lost revenue and punish improper bookkeeping or business practices. In cases like fraud or other deliberate misconduct regarding taxes, liable business owners can face forfeiture of business licenses and even jail time. However, punishments like these are rare and reserved for severe or repeat offenders.
Because many independent web designers operate as freelancers or independent contractors, they receive payment in full for completed jobs, meaning money that would normally be reserved for tax purposes in the case of full-time employees isn’t and needs to be paid at a later date.
Typically, this means that many freelancers and independent web designers don’t receive a tax refund at the end of the fiscal year as they haven’t been paying their tax burden throughout the year. Instead, many will have to pay their self-employment tax burden at the end of the fiscal year or make “quarterly estimated payments” every three months. While more complicated, paying quarterly taxes can help small businesses and freelancers avoid the burden of a single, larger tax bill at the end of the year, and stop them from overpaying.
Self-employed designers must fill out a tax return, much like all businesses should, on or before the deadline. You should include all income obtained through the business, including invoiced clients and income from any side hustles. Ensure you’re aware of the tax rates that apply to you for your state.
What is a Tax Deduction?
As a business owner, you have various tax deductions that you can use to reduce your tax liability. Deductions are often developed as incentives from the government to reduce the cost of doing business and encourage certain business practices. Deductions for tax in web development can range from federal to state but are available for legal business expenses and other things.
A good system of bookkeeping for web designers will help you monitor your business finances and track all expenses, allowing you to claim industry-specific deductions and lower your tax bill. Some qualifying deductions include equipment and software expenses, rent for office space, and payments to independent contractors.
Deductions for Home Offices
Web designers tend to operate their businesses from home, making deductions for home office expenses critical for reducing their taxes. By determining the number of square feet dedicated to a workspace on their property, business owners can deduct a corresponding percentage of home expenses such as rent or mortgage interest, repairs, utilities, and insurance.
Marketing & Advertising
Marketing and advertising are critical components of running a web design company. The IRS allows companies to write off business expenses related to advertising and promotion. These expenses include physical signage and media advertising. Website design companies can deduct the cost of digital advertising to strengthen their online marketing efforts.
Insurance is essential for all businesses, but web design companies might require unique policies specific to computer-related liabilities. You can claim the premiums paid on business insurance such as liability, property, and professional liability insurance. Insurance expenses are deductible when filing your income tax return, so keep all records relating to your insurance policies.
Web Design Tax Filing Guidelines
Tax filing guidelines will be different depending on your business structure. Web design companies that are sole proprietorships report their business income and expenses using Schedule C of their tax returns. Partnerships, on the other hand, use Form 1065 to file their returns, while Limited Liability Companies use either Form 1065 or Form 1120-S.
Understanding the necessary filing process, you’ll need to come down to the scope and size of your business, your level of liability, the number of employees, etc. Investing in accounting software for web designers can help business owners file correctly, as well as keep track of deductible expenses, track revenue, and more. However, not all tax software is created equally, and some products may be a better fit for your particular business. Sometimes, a trial and error period is necessary when adopting new tax software.
The tax landscape is vast and complex. However, we hope that this guide provides web designers with a basic understanding of the types of tax deductions for software developers and how to manage their taxes effectively. By correctly monitoring all business expenses, business owners can claim tax deductions and reduce their tax bills. However, while it never hurts to have first-hand knowledge of how our business tax situation works, there’s no need for busy business owners to go it alone.
Appletree Business Services has years of experience in helping small businesses, freelancers, and independent business owners with their taxes. By finding every available deduction, managing expenses, and filing correctly, web design companies can spend their time focusing on providing excellent service to their clients and not worrying about what they’ll need to pay come tax season. Contact Appletree today for an initial consultation with one of our experienced accountants, CPAs, and business coaches, and let us help you reach your financial goals.
See related: Payroll for web designers