Taking 20 minutes a week to do bookkeeping and automating invoices can make a huge difference for freelancers, writes Layton Holley.

Taking the pain out of tax time for journalists

When a journalist comes face to face with tax-time, the once steely-eyed observer may sweat, become nervous, cross-eyed even, and if one isn’t careful this may lead to a full-blown mental collapse.

On top of the writing, the research and the pitching, freelance journalists must be a business person, an accountant, and be on top of all these disciplines simultaneously.

But Oliver Garside, the founder and director of accounting software firm Rounded, and Holly Shoebridge, the director of Oceans Accounting say a few simple habits can take the pain out of lodging your tax return.

“The first step,” Miss Shoebridge tells the Launceston Freelance Festival, “is getting a clear overview of the book-keeping – everything else stems from this.”

She adds it is important to have a separate business bank account in conjunction with your individual account, and freelancers should spend around 20 minutes a week on bookkeeping.

If you are like me, and spending 20 minutes a week on book-keeping is as realistic a dream as performing a slam dunk on Michael Jordan, there are solutions.

Rounded’s software is specialised for freelance journalism and can help users by automating follow up emails for invoices and credit card payments.

The second most important step, says Miss Shoebridge, is finding the right accountant.

When finding an accountant, Ms Shoebridge says ask: “Does the accountant specialise in your business structure, what do they know about your business or industry? And does the accountant cater to your market?”

Both speakers say a consultation with an accountant to develop a long-term personalised plan can also save a major headache every year come tax time.