self employment

or I have no earthly idea what my monthly income is

It’s a bit embarrassing: Usually by this time of year, I have tabulated and filed my taxes.  I remember only one year prior that I waited this long to figure my income tax, and no one really needs to know.

The last four years, my personal income has been classified by the IRS as self-employment.  This means I no longer qualify for the 1040-EZ.  I can’t even file my taxes online for free.  I am now branded self employed and get a couple extra forms: a Schedule SE and a Schedule C-EZ for each separate business in which I engage.  If I had a proper business, it would be the more elaborate Schedule C instead of the C-EZ.

I suppose here in the Silicon Forest, where many techies are hired as consultants and contractors, this isn’t such a big deal.  Lots of people know the onus of having to garner income tax on their own, answer the harrowing “buy my own or skip it?” health insurance question, and negotiate precarious contracts with their clients.

I remember the first year I filed the Schedule SE.  I was on the phone with the IRS helpline asking the operator to confirm, for the third time, that even though I made less than $5k—an amount which would otherwise exempt me from having to file at all—I still owed income tax.  It baffled me.

Nonetheless, I am a good little socialist.  While I feel my government is often vastly irresponsible and wasteful with taxpayers money, I will pay into the system.  I will continue to hope that someday, as long as you give society and work a good college try, the government will facilitate an equitable and just sharing of resources with you.

If nothing else, I need to somehow pay into the social security system if I hope to benefit from it later.  Whether it’s still around when I need it is another issue entirely.

By now, I consider myself an intermediate tax preparer.  I’ve never had anyone else do my taxes, never bought software, never set foot in an H & R Block office.  I’m fiercely independent, even when it’s taken me two to three times longer than having someone else do it… By now, I’m rather efficient, if it weren’t for all the emotional blockades I set up between me and actually starting the process.

It’s with some satisfaction that I’m able to finally discover what I make in a year.  I can even divide by twelve and, at last, know what it is I make per month.  It’s so uncomfortable on financial assistance forms to try to answer these questions.

Perhaps if I made more money out of this whole self-employment thing, as I hope to someday—and if I didn’t have a dependent clinging to my pocketbook’s teat—having an inconsistent, if not dicey flow of income wouldn’t bother me.

I’m starting to accept it more, looking out upon this terrific, new world. Where previously I might have said things like job or boss, I now say gig and client.  It’s invoice instead of paycheck, project instead of assignment, and “God, I wish I could go in to an office” instead of “I wish I could stay home and work in my PJs”.

Maybe in a couple years I’ll get this ironed out, but for now I have no freaking idea what my job title is.  Someone asks casually, “Oh, what do you do for a living?”  Rather than answering the customary, “Stuff,” accompanied by a suggestive gesture [alternating between fellatio and hand job], I try to explain and go into a long report of all the projects and clients I am currently… entertaining.  ::Cough::

I feel like such a hack, and not just because I fear I’d be a rubbish prostitute.

I pretend I’m a professional.  I made a shiny website that, while clean and reasonably functional, isn’t actually up to current web standards.  I had a bunch of business cards printed, wherein I claim to be a “creatrix extraordinaire”.  Nobody ever knows what the hell to make of that.

I tell “your mom” jokes seemingly no matter the company.  I nap during traditional business hours.  Sometimes I need a break to cry.  I play dress up and “rehearse” an interview with an imaginary client.  I’m so not kidding.

I know, however, that I have a very discerning eye for design and strong draftsperson skills.  I’m attentive to detail, dedicated to the conjunction of form and function.  I’m inventive and resourceful.  I’m a “quick study”, as someone recently affirmed for me.  I’m not a pushover, nor am I recalcitrant; I can be very diplomatic and collaborative.

It’s really important for me to do work that I am proud of.  I’ve had a hell of a time getting started in this life, but I’m not done yet.  It just could get better.

Within the next couple of days, my taxes are gonna get filed.  I’m going to thank whatever sentient entity it was that conjured the merciful and poorly-named Earned Income Credit.  I’m going to formulate that frakking invoice for my client.  I’m going to take a nap and go to therapy.

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One Response to self employment

  1. Allan says:

    That’s good writing, ya know? Really. Have you considered pursuing written word gigs?

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