As an Upwork 1099 independent contractor or small business owner, you need to report and file your own self-employed taxes. This blog post will cover what type of taxes you need to pay as an individual who is paid by Upwork, common 1099 tax deductions, quarterly taxes, and how to go about filing them for the current year.
After reading this blog post, you should have a better understanding of whether or not you need to file your own taxes as well as where and how those taxes can be filed. We still strongly recommend you consult with a tax advisor for any questions or tax advice based on your particular circumstance.
Without further ado, let's start off with when you will receive an Upwork 1099 form.
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If you freelanced and earned income on the Upwork platform, you'll receive a form 1099. A 1099 is a tax form that reports sources of income that don't count as an employee or W2 earnings.
There are several 1099 tax forms and each one reports different sources of income and has different requirements to receive a form. The 1099 tax forms you will get will be based on how many transactions you made, the platform on which you received funds, and how much you earned. Under the IRS's Section 6050W code, you won't file a 1099-K, 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC, through Upwork.
So, Upwork doesn't send you a 1099 form as they are an escrow subsidiary. A client or employer who uses Upwork to pay a freelancer is merely using the platform as a "third-party settlement organization". So, your clients are responsible for distributing a form 1099-K, 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC out to you in accordance with IRS regulations.
You will receive a copy of your 1099 forms via U.S. Postal Service by January 31.
Form 1099-NEC or Form 1099-MISC previous to 2020, is the most common information return sent out to freelancers. The reason why is because the requirements to receive this form is fairly simple. If you earned more than $600 from a non-employee payment, you'll get this form. Sometimes, you will get a 1099-K instead but we'll go over that in the next section. Non-employee compensation is reported in the 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC prior to 2020. The IRS form 1099-NEC did not replace the 1099-MISC. Non-employee compensation is reported on a Form 1099-NEC in place of the Form 1099-MISC.
The other information return you'll receive as an Upwork freelance is the Form 1099-K. The requirement to receive a 1099-K is: freelancers in the U.S who receive more than $20,000 AND had more than 200 transactions through Upwork. So, if you earned $30,000 but only had 100 transactions, you would not receive a 1099-K.
It should be noted that the 1099-K is an information return to report payments and not earnings. Upwork is required to report all payments sent out to freelancers, regardless of refunds or fees paid.
For instance, you'll be sent a form 1099-K even if you refunded $25,000 worth of income and only actually made $600. Also, if you earned $25,000, had over 200 transactions, no matter how much you paid in fees, you'll still receive a 1099K.
If you and your client agreed that you are an employee, you'll be compensated through Upwork Payroll. What this means is that the Upwork platform will be your employer, withhold money for the payment of taxes, and you'll file a Form W-2. If you received payments through Upwork Payroll, this means you will not have to pay taxes as an independent contractor.
If you know you met those requirements above and you did not receive a 1099, don't panic. There are a few reasons why. Double-check the information on your Upwork account. If your address is wrong, the 1099 form may have been sent to the wrong address.
On the other hand, if you earned less than $600, your client is not required to send you a 1099-MISC, 1099-NEC or 1099-K. just because you did not earn $600 in payments, does not mean you are off the hook for paying taxes on your earnings. We'll explore that more in the next section.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines all freelancers or independent contractors as self-employed business owners. This means you are responsible for reporting and paying your self-employment taxes. Self-employment tax is composed of two parts, Social Security (12.4%) and Medicare (2.9%).
Bonsai has an online self-employment tax calculator for you to use to quickly total up your tax liability.
The U.S. operates on a pay-as-you-go tax system. This means, when you freelance on Upwork, you'll need to pay estimated taxes on the income you earn throughout the year. By paying taxes quarterly, you'll be able to avoid a large tax bill at the end of the year. To calculate your quarterly tax payment, you just need to take the total tax liability from the previous year and divide that by four.
The deadlines for a freelancer to send in estimated tax payments are:
If you send less than the amount you owe to the IRS, you may be penalized. This is called a tax underpayment penalty. This fine will be added to your tax bill at the end of the year.
Don't worry too much about a penalty for the overpayment of estimated taxes. You'll merely receive a refund for the taxes that you overpaid.
IRS direct pay is where you can make your quarterly tax payments.
There are a number of business-related expenses that an Upwork independent contractor has the luxury of deducting from their tax bill. It is vital to properly organize and store your receipts for taxes when you file a form 1099. The IRS will want some proof of your business expenses. You can manually track expenses with a 1099 excel template or use software (which we highly recommend).
Now, let's get into the most common deductions available to freelancers.
Note: if you would like an app to automatically record, organize and track your tax deductions, try Bonsai Tax. On average, users save $5,600 on their tax bill with our software. Save more of your money this year and maximize your deductions. Try a free trial for 14 days here.
Taxes are a pain, but they're inevitable. It's not so bad, especially with the help of Bonsai Tax. We've got your back on Upwork 1099 taxes for this year and in years to come. Every quarter, we'll send you a reminder that it’s time to pay your quarterly taxes online —and if you need any assistance along the way, just let us know. You can also use Bonsai Tax as a one-stop-shop for all your business deductions too. Click here to get started now.
Remember, this article is not meant to be tax advice. We always recommend you consult with a tax advisor or professional for all of your Upwork 1099 tax filing-related questions.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?