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Freelancing is a convenient way to earn money if you prefer to be independent, work from home and do what you want with your time. As well as in any other country, there are some rules that you need to consider before you go freelance in Ireland. Everything you wanted to know is here.
What do I do to go freelance in Ireland?
You’ve made a decision. You want to earn money as a freelancer. What next?
In Ireland, every freelancer must register as a self-employed person. If you don’t know the difference between freelancer and self-employed, it’s as simple as: all freelancers are self-employed, but the term self-employed refers to everyone who is working for themselves, including freelancers, tradespeople, salespeople, investors, lawyers, agents and so on.
As a self-employed person and a freelancer, you have to pay taxes like everyone else, but unlike salaried employees, freelancers must file their taxes themselves. It’s called Income Tax self-assessment, and you must submit it every year.
First of all, register for self-assessment on the Revenue website. In order to do that, you can use the eRegistration service. Another way to register is to complete part A and part B of Form TR1 if you’re an Irish resident or Form TR1 (FT) if non-resident.
Income Tax self-assessment is different from the PAYE (“pay as you earn”) system. The PAYE tax is deducted weekly or monthly without your intervention. On the other hand, self-employed people have to fill out their self-assessment tax return. The good thing is that it’s only once a year.
You pay taxes based on what you earned in the previous year. For example, you have to pay tax on income earned in 2019 by 31 October 2020.
There is also a term preliminary tax, which means that by 31 October you have to pay tax for the year that hasn’t ended yet. There are three ways to calculate preliminary tax:
- 90% of the tax due for that tax year;
- 100% of the tax due for the preceding tax year;
- 105% of the tax due for the pre-preceding tax year.
If you choose and pay in any of these ways, next October your preliminary tax will be compared to your tax bill. In case you paid too little last year, you would have to pay the balance; if you paid too much, you’ll receive a refund. In order to submit your tax return, you need to fill out either Form 11 or Form 12 depending on the amount of your income.
When calculating your taxes, don’t forget about tax deductions. If you mention things like coworking space rent, utility bills or even furniture for your rental property, they will be subtracted from your income and you will pay less tax. That’s why you need to keep all your receipts!
As long as you get used to it, filing taxes will not be as complicated as you thought it would be. On the Revenue website, you can find all the information and forms, and there are also a couple of unofficial extensive guides to self-assessment taxes for freelance in Ireland on the internet.
Where can I find work as a freelancer?
As a freelancer, you’ll always be in search of jobs and projects. Many freelancers find work on freelance platforms. In Ireland, you can find work on websites like Gumtree or Indeed. By the way, freelance is not only about working on the internet. For example, Gumtree offers jobs like babysitting or gardening, though you can also find some related to media, design, IT and so on. On the Indeed website, there are remote temporary jobs available.
Other platforms include Fiverr, Upwork, Toptal, Simply Hired and so on. Upwork is great for those who start freelancing. On Fiverr, clients choose freelancers based on their finished projects presented. You can also find a platform that specialises in what you want to do: if you’re a writer, go to Writer Access, or if you’re a graphic designer, Designhill is the right place for you.
You might also have solid clients who keep coming back to you with their orders. If you have your client base, it gives a sense of security and less anxiety over your financial situation.
General advice for beginners
No matter what country you live in, you need to start with the basic questions: what do you plan to work on? What are you going to focus on: copywriting or copyediting? Programming or app development? Or maybe even photographing?
Going freelance may be tricky at the beginning. If you want to quit your job as an employee, don’t do that unless you have a solid plan. It’s most likely that your first orders won’t pay your bills. Make sure you have a sufficient financial cushion at least for a few months.
Think about the price of your work. When you start earning, decide if you want to bill by project or on an hourly rate (though it may vary from one order to another). Consider lower pay, but know your limit and try not to underprice. You can’t avoid taking low-price orders at the beginning, but you should increase your rate as you’re gaining more experience.
One of the important things is to discipline yourself. There is an impression that freelancers can do whatever they want most of their time. It requires a lot of effort to start and keep working when there’s no boss and no nine-to-five schedule.
It will take time before you build your client base and make a living by freelance, and that’s why you need to work hard. But sooner or later, hard work and a positive mindset will pay off.
Have you ever thought of going freelance in Ireland? Or maybe you’re already a freelancer? Share your experience with us!