24 tax write-offs for freelance consultants

There are a lot of pros to working as a freelance consultant. Flexible work hours, more control over your career, the list goes on.

It’s also an affordable business to start. If you have unique skills that you could offer to other business owners—like business strategy, sales coaching, or marketing expertise—and a network of people who could send clients your way, you’re already well on your way to becoming a freelance consultant.

Still, freelancing is a lot different than working a 9-to-5. For instance, filing your taxes does get a little more complicated. However, freelancing also offers you plenty of new ways to trim your tax bill—if you know what expenses you should be tracking.

Whether you’re new to consulting or are simply looking for ways to keep more of the money you make, bookmark this list of tax write-offs you should keep an eye out for.

General tax write-offs

Website expenses

A website is one of the best ways for consultants to show off what they can do and the results they can achieve to potential clients. But getting it right can be expensive. Fortunately, costs like your domain name, hosting fees, maintenance fees, and website templates are all tax write-offs.

Phone

From discovery calls to client check-ins, consultants typically spend a lot of time on the phone. Depending on how much you use your phone for work, you can write off a portion of your phone-related expenses.

Software

Do you use apps like G-Suite, Asana and Calendly to run your consulting business? You can write off those subscription fees.

Marketing

Whether you invest in webinars, email marketing, Facebook ads or any other kind of tool to promote your service, marketing expenses are tax-deductible.

Networking event

Many consultants join professional organizations and attend conferences and meet-ups to connect with their target audience, as well as with other professionals who might send them referrals. Membership fees and event tickets related to networking are tax write-offs.

Professional services

Did you work with a lawyer to create your consulting contracts? Or maybe you hired a social media specialist to help boost your online presence? You can write-off the fees you pay to professionals for advice or services related to your business.

Gear and equipment

Even though you can start a consulting business with just a laptop, there are other pieces of equipment that you can purchase to help you do your job. For example, maybe you use a voice recorder to capture interviews with clients or a tablet to write down quick notes during consulting sessions. These are tax-deductible expenses.

Payment processing fees

Using an online payment processor can help you streamline and automate your business finances—for a price. But you can write these expenses off come tax time.

Bank fee

Yup, the same rule applies to your bank fees.

Professional development

Your clients may hire you for your expertise, but as industries and processes evolve, so should you. Taking courses, attending conferences, and reading books related to your professional development are all tax write-offs. 

Shipping and postage

Some consultants opt to send their clients gifts to show their gratitude for their continued loyalty and business. If you’re sending these gifts via snail mail then you can write off the shipping and postage expenses.

Salaries and payroll

Consultants often start as ‘solopreneurs’ but may hire staff as their business grows. If you start to bring on part-time or full-time employees, you can write-off their salaries and payroll expenses.

Not a fan of tracking your expenses?

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Working from home?

Contrary to popular belief, not all consultants spend their time travelling from client to client. For example, some consultants offer their services virtually via online groups or 1-to-1 video chat coaching sessions.

And let’s be real: even if you do travel a lot for work, there will probably still be times where you’ll be working from home. If that’s the case, make sure you’re tracking the expenses below.

You don’t even need a home office to claim these deductions. As long as you have some kind of  dedicated workspace, like a desk and chair, you can write off the following expenses.

Utilities

Try working from home without heat, hydro or water. It’d be pretty difficult, to say the least. That’s why you can write off a portion of your utility costs.

Internet

The same goes for your internet bill. You can write off a portion of these fees as well.

Rent or mortgage

If you rent or own your home, you can write off a portion of your monthly rent or mortgage. FYI: this includes mortgage interest, but not the principal.

Property taxes

Depending on where you live, you may have a pretty steep property tax bill. But if you’re a freelancer, a portion of these costs are tax write-offs.

Insurance

Do you pay for rental or homeowner insurance? You can write off a portion of these costs as home office write-offs.

Maintenance

Cleaning expenses, home repairs… these are all tax-deductible expenses if you work from home.

Home office expense

That ergonomic chair you splurged on? That fancy Bluetooth headset? These office expenses are all tax-deductible.

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Meeting with clients?

Meeting with clients is a big part of the life of a consultant. While you might often be meeting with your clients at their place of work, if you work with other ‘solopreneurs’ or consultants, you might need to find another appropriate location to talk shop.

Fortunately, coworking spaces are becoming increasingly popular across Canada. These shared office spaces often have meeting rooms that you can book by the hour or drop-in day passes which are great options for consulting meetings. You could also meet with your clients at a local restaurant or cafe.

Office rental

Coworking space memberships and room booking fees are all expenses that can be written off.

Food and drinks

If you discuss work with a coworker, client, or even a friend at a restaurant, it's a write-off!

Travel for work?

Not all consultants ‘live out of a suitcase,’ but travel can be a big part of the job description depending on your industry and clientele.

If you are travelling long distances for work, you can rest easy knowing that a lot of your work-related travel expenses are tax write-offs.

Transportation

If you drive to meet with a client, have coffee with a coworker, or attend a conference — you can claim car-related write-offs. These include expenses like gas, car maintenance, insurance and registration, parking, tolls, and the annual depreciation of your car.

If you’re travelling out of the city or out of the country, airfare, train tickets and rental car fees can also be written off.

Accommodations

When you travel for work, lodging expenses such as hotel rooms or Airbnb bookings are tax-deductible.

Food and drinks

When you're travelling for work, all meals—even takeout—are tax-deductible.

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