I’ve got this down to a near science, which is necessary for the strangeness of my income. This likely is more complicated than most people need, but perhaps not. Comics is a fickle business, so we often need multiple jobs to make it work. Here is an example of how I track all my income to prepare for tax season. Note that all these numbers are completely fake. I don’t spend or earn in every category every month. Not even every year! I work as a page at the Ferndale Public Library and a receptionist at Neeleman Law Group for four fairly standard paychecks each month. I also do freelance work as a designer and a proofreader. I sell comics wholesale to stores and retail at conventions. And if I sell a book, I would get an advance.
I use Microsoft Excel for this. Above is the Yearly Profit and Loss statement. It references the tabs for Earned and Spent so I don’t have to do anything. It stays nice and up to date. You will see the color coding matches between tabs for each month, too. Not necessary, but fun. You might as well add as much fun as you can to your tracking.
Above is the Earned tab. For my actual setup, I have all of the expected checks from my regular jobs entered around the date I should get them with the average amount I earn. These amounts go in the Job column. Taxed is for jobs that aren’t regular but do have the taxes taken out before I receive my check. This covers some of my contract work for design. Formed is for jobs that I should expect a tax form for, such as a 1099, but taxes are not taken out. This covers jobs like proofreading. And Amount covers everything else, mostly sales as shows and cons. The Tax Save column calculates how much I need to save for taxes. I have yet to figure out quarterly estimated taxes and the fee for not paying in advance is only $71. But come the end of the year, if I have saved 20% of the first two columns—Amount and Formed—I can straight pay my taxes. The bottom row is the totals for each type, so I can see exactly what I earned in each category. The left colorful column is the earnings just from freelance work. The right colorful column is the total earnings from all work. Lots of sum functions and references. The type categories are based on tax form categories.
Above is the Spent tab. I haven’t done it yet, but there are some monthly fees I need to add, such as Drop Box. (I just did it. I love Excel). This is a much simpler spreadsheet than the Earned tab. I track by month in the colorful column. On the right, I track yearly total for each type, the types being categories from the tax forms. Who knows how much of this is still useful with all the tax upheavals, but it also helps me see where I am spending my money each year, so it is still useful. Travel miles is just for the miles I travel in my own car for specific work related things, such as driving to comic conventions. Airlines tickets I would put as a regular expense. The ones with notes about what are included is because I rarely if ever use those categories.
Wish me luck. I am having a Dickens of a time finding a CPA, so based on the recommendations of my freelancing friends on Facebook, I am going to give Turbo Tax a try. Scary! Not only did I have three W-2 jobs last year, I had multiple freelance jobs and got married. So we are filing jointly for the first time. One of the reasons we got married.
I will post an attachment in a separate post for Patreon backers that has a template of sorts of my Excel sheet. I will answer questions about it as I am able.