Keeping tax records might not seem like a sexy topic, but it's a super important one to master if you're new to freelance writing. To help you start out, here's a few crucial tips. 1. Know how self-employment taxes work As a freelancer, you're considered an independent contractor. So, put simply, the IRS looks at you as both an employee and employer. That means you're responsible for paying both the federal income tax and the self-employment tax. The self-employment tax works like a flat tax but it tops out if your earnings reach $118,500 for the year. Both the federal income tax and the self-employment tax are calculated by your net earnings made as a freelancer, after your deductions. So say you're in a 15-percent tax bracket and you're paid $600 in a given year for your freelance work. If you have nothing to deduct in expenses against that $600, you'll owe $90 in self-employment tax and another $90 in income tax, or $180 in total. That's why it's crucial to record your deductions to help bring down what you'll need to pay. 2. Find the forms you need If you're hired as a contractor, you may be asked to fill out a W-9. The W-9 will ask for your name, address, Social Security Number and perhaps your tax ID number if you're part of a company that's been contracted. Clients may also send you a 1099 form before the tax deadline. The 1099 is a summary of what they've paid you and the amount you need to pay taxes on, but you'll only get one if you're paid more than $600 in one year by a certain client. If you're paid less, you won't get a 1099 but you still must report that income. When you go to file, because you're reporting self-employment income you'll be using a 1040 form, not the 1040A or 1040-EZ. Within the 1040, you'll also need a either a Schedule C or a Schedule C-EZ form. The Schedule C essentially is used to report your business income and expenses. You'll use the Schedule C-EZ if: Your business expenses are less than $5,000 You have no employees You have no inventory You do not use deprecation or are deducting the cost of your house. Once you get the correct forms, now you can start adding up what your taxed amount will be and what you can use for deductions. 3. Determine your deductions A good place to start is the home office deduction. According to the IRS, you may be able to deduct expenses for the business use of your home, whether you own your home or are a renter. It's especially important as a freelancer to be organized and keep pristine records so you know what you can report as deductions. However, you'll need to meet three requirements to qualify. You need to use your office solely for business, your home office must be used on a regular basis, and you conduct most of your crucial business activities out of your home office. You'll need to fill out a Form 8829, too. Other common deductions for freelancers include A good place to start is the home office deduction. You may be able to deduct expenses for the business use of your home, whether you own your home or are a renter. Cost of web hosting Advertising costs Office supplies Renter's or homeowner's insurance Health expenses, which need a Schedule A form for Legal and/or accountant fees Business meals. You can claim half of your business meal expenses so keep those receipts! Keeping track of your receipts and income might seem overwhelming at first, but doesn't have to be difficult. Find a software system that works for you, there are several to choose from, and find someplace to keep all of your receipts. If you follow these steps and do some of your own research, you'll be a freelance tax pro in no time!