21 tax write-offs for freelance designers

Working as a freelance designer can be a pretty sweet gig. You get to work on projects you care about, determine your schedule, be your own boss... the list of perks goes on. 

But filing your taxes gets a little more complicated when you’re self-employed, or even pursuing freelance design projects on the side. To help you lower your tax bill, make sure you’re keeping track of the following tax write-offs.

General tax write-offs

Electronics

Whether you’re working from a laptop, desktop, or both, you’ll probably want to invest in some equipment. Good thing all this hardware is tax-deductible. Other things you might want to pick up include a hard drive/SSD, tablet, stylus, studio camera and a high-res monitor.

Phone

With so many smartphone apps available for freelance designers, chances are you do at least some of your work from your phone. Good thing you can write-off a portion of these expenses.

Website expenses

As a freelance designer, your website or portfolio is kind of like a storefront. It’s probably the first thing a potential client will look at. All the costs associated with building and hosting a website—templates, hosting fees, domain registration etc.—are tax write-offs.

Software

While an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription is kind of a given, design software fees can quickly add up. Fortunately, these are tax-deductible expenses.

Professional services

If you work with a lawyer to develop your client contracts or hire an assistant to support you with admin work, the fees you pay to these professionals for advice or services related to your business are tax-write offs.

Payment processing fees

While you might have some clients who pay by cheque or e-transfer, as your business grows, you might want to opt for a payment processing service like PayPal or Stripe to get paid for your work. These services typically charge a small transaction fee, so keep an eye on these costs—they’re tax-deductible.

Bank fee

Those monthly charges can be a pain, just like payment processors, bank fees are also tax-deductible expenses.

Professional development

When you’re working as a freelancer, it’s important to invest in your business, but you should also invest in yourself. Attending design conferences, going to industry meet-ups and taking online courses are all great ways to level-up in your freelance career. And these expenses are all tax write-offs!

Marketing

It’s one of the most common questions new freelancers have: how do I get clients? The answer: marketing. If you use email marketing software, digital ads, social media or any other kind of paid tool to promote your business, you can write off these expenses. Networking events would also fall under this umbrella.

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Working from home?

Another one of the perks of being a freelance designer is the ability to work from anywhere, including your home.

If you do at least some of your freelance design work from a dedicated work area at home, you can claim business-use-of-home deductions. However, you don't need a home office to claim these write-offs. A dedicated desk is enough.

Utilities

It’d be pretty hard to work from home without utilities. That’s why you can write off a portion of your heating bill, hydro, and water bill costs.

Internet

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

Rent or mortgage

Whether you rent or own your home, you can write off a portion of your monthly rent or mortgage. This includes mortgage interest, but not the principal.

Property taxes

Depending on where you live, you may have to pay a pretty penny in property taxes. 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 new laptop stand? These office expenses are all tax-deductible.

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Meeting with clients?

Let’s say a potential client has scheduled an in-person meeting with you to discuss their needs and how you might be able to help them. Depending on how you work, you may not want to meet this person at your house or neighbourhood coffee shop.

So what should you do? Well, you have a couple of options. You can sign up for a coworking space membership or book a meeting room for the day. You could also take them out for lunch. Either way, these expenses are tax-deductible.

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?

From photoshoots to conferences to networking events, the life of a content creator often involves a lot of travelling. For most people, this can be a pretty major perk.

Another perk? If you’re travelling for work, you can write off almost all of the expenses associated with the trip.

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 write-offs.

Food and drinks

When you're travelling for work, all meals are tax-deductible. That’s right, even takeout.

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