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Top 3 Legal Tips for Freelancers

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on September 09, 2014 8:15 AM

With the job market tighter than ever, more and more Americans are turning to freelancing as a way to put their skills to use.

According to freelance worker advocacy group the Freelancers Union, a recent survey found that 53 million Americans are freelancing, working as independent contractors for clients as a "small business" of one. But along with unique benefits -- such as scheduling flexibility, being able to choose the projects you work, and being your own boss -- there are also several legal issues that freelancers in particular should be aware of.

Here are three legal tips for freelancers to follow:

  1. Get the right permits. Although many freelancing businesses are operated out of an individual's home, these businesses are still required to get the proper permits and licenses required by the state, county, and city in which they are located, according to the Small Businesses Administration. To find out which permits you may need, check your local government's website, or use the SBA's online search tool.
  2. Be sure to stay on top of tax issues. As a freelancer, you will be responsible for taking care of your own self-employment taxes. This may include paying estimated taxes. Failing to pay estimated taxes on time, if they are required, can lead to stiff penalties. However, there may be a number of ways to lower your taxes through deductions or other tax-saving measures.
  3. Get your agreements in writing. If a business client provides you with a contract, you'll want to scrutinize it to make sure it includes the terms agreed upon before signing. If your client doesn't provide a contract, you may want to prepare one of your own (or have a lawyer draft it for you). A contract ensures that if a client fails to pay or live up to their end of the bargain that you will have legal recourse.

If you need advice or assistance with a work-related legal issue as a freelancer, an experienced small business lawyer can explain the law and help you find a solution.

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