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3 Important Legal Tips for Freelancers

If you are working for yourself already, or considering taking up freelance work, you're probably concerned about projects and not the law. But the law is part of all we do, and one of the tough things about being in charge of your own employment is that you do have to consider some important legal requirements. Let's consider these three legal issues for freelancers noted in Flexjobs.

Three Legal Tips

  1. Tax Talk: You do not have to become a master of tax law, but you must understand that as a freelancer has additional payment and reporting obligations. Self-employed workers must pay Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes in full, a cost that employees split with the boss. So, that's quite a strain -- not only do you have to do all the paperwork but you will be paying twice as much because you have no employer to offset these taxes. In order to minimize what you owe the government in taxes, keep great records of all qualifying business expenses and make deductions.
  2. Own Your Ideas: When an employee develops something for an employer, a product, idea, report, or anything else, the thing belongs to the employer -- it's created under their roof, as it were. But as a freelancer you can and do own your intellectual property to the extent that you specify this. Some businesses may not agree with this and you can determine how that may impact your price or willingness to work. Spell out the terms of your engagement before you start. You will learn more about the project during negotiations and save headaches down the line.
  3. Spell It All Out: In addition to detailing your intentions regarding intellectual property, you must get your freelance deal terms in writing. With luck you will be dealing with more than one client and will have multiple projects, so you absolutely need to have contracts for each deal you do. This minimizes confusion, mistakes and disputes. Critical terms are deadlines, pay rates, duration of the project, and expected production.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you are a freelancer or considering becoming one, talk to a lawyer and make sure you have all the legal angles covered. There is much more to consider depending what kind of business you are in and your personal circumstances, including insurance, licensing, and compliance. Get guidance. Consult with counsel.

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