Filing your taxes as an independent contractor is very different from filing taxes as an employee. As a self-employed individual, generally you are required to file an annual return and pay estimated tax quarterly, which means each business quarter of the year.
You may file your independent contractor or business taxes on your own, but we recommend working with a reliable tax preparer or accountant (especially if it’s your first time filing as an independent contractor), who can help you complete the correct tax forms and help you determine your deductions and expenses.
There is no one right or best way to prepare your taxes, you are the only one who can find the best tax preparation path for your needs. The key is to be informed, do your own research, and ask questions.
Assistance with filing your own tax returns
The IRS can help many taxpayers prepare their own returns without the assistance of a paid preparer.
Some options you can consider include:
- If your income is $62,000 or less, try Free File Software. Free File Fillable Forms.
- You may also use commercial tax preparation software to file your taxes electronically.
- You may find an authorized IRS e-file provider in your area through the IRS using the IRS e-file Provider Locator.
- There is also a free tax return preparation for qualifying taxpayers available through programs such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).
Finding a professional tax preparer
Similar to immigration services, you should be very careful when choosing a tax preparer. You do not want to become a victim to any scheme that offers unrealistic wealth or exemption from your obligation to file tax returns and/or pay taxes.
What to look for
While most preparers provide excellent and honest service to their clients, it is important to know that even if someone else prepares your return, you are responsible for all the information on the tax return, which is why it is very important to choose your tax preparer wisely.
When searching for a tax preparer you should:
- Check the person’s qualifications
- Check the preparer’s history
- Find out about their service fees
- Ask if they offer electronic filing
- Make sure the tax preparer is accessible and can answer your questions when needed
- Provide all records and receipts needed to prepare your return
- Never sign a blank return
- Review the entire return before signing it
- Make sure the preparer signs the form and includes his or her preparer tax identification number (PTIN)