21 Tax write offs for freelance web developers in Canada

You’ve put in hours of your time, done all the hard work — you’ve learned to code! Now you’re ready to reap the rewards and set off on your own as a freelance developer.

There are major benefits to working freelance. You get to choose your working hours, clients, and your rate of pay. You can work all morning (or all night for that matter) or maybe only part-time. The world is your oyster.

However, working freelance can make your tax situation a little complicated, to say the least. That’s why I created this list of tax-deductible expenses that you need to track if you want to keep more of the money you make.

Gear and Equipment
You don’t need to splurge on super-expensive equipment, but the costs can still add up. Good thing your computer, keyboard, mouse, monitors and any other equipment you purchase are all tax-deductible expenses.

Website Expense
How you brand yourself as a freelance developer can help you stand out from the crowd and an online portfolio website is a good place to start. Plus, you can write-off your website hosting and domain registration fees.

From mock-up tools to project management software, there are a number of tools out there that can help you run your business more efficiently. If you decide to upgrade to the paid versions, you can write-off those monthly subscription fees.

Professional Services
Need to bring on a junior developer to support your client’s work? Any fees you pay to other professionals for advice or services related to your business can be written off.
Payment Processing Fee
Getting paid is great, but those pesky processing fees? Not so much. Fortunately, they’re also tax-deductible.

Professional Development
Whether you want to learn a new programming language or framework or develop a new skill, it’s important to invest in your professional development. Coding workshops, programming seminars, online courses and certifications, books and magazines that contribute to your education and development are all tax-deductible expenses.

From business cards to SEO website upgrades, even the best developers need to invest some funds into marketing their services. You can write off these costs.

Networking Event
Networking can get a bad rap but it’s still one of the best ways to connect with other professionals and meet with potential clients. If there’s a tech conference or meetup you’ve been dying to attend, remember that these expenses are tax-deductible!

Work from home?

As long as you have a good computer and solid internet connection, you can work from anywhere as a freelance developer—including your own home.

If you do decide to work from home, there are quite a few deductions that you can take advantage of. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a full home office to claim these write-offs. Even if you only have space for a dedicated desk, you can claim business-use-of-home deductions.

Heating bills. Hydro bills. Water bills. We all gotta pay them, but if you work from home, you can write off a portion of your utility costs.

It’d be pretty tough to work as a freelance developer without the internet. That’s why you can write off a portion of these fees as well.

Rent or Mortgage
While you can’t deduct all of your rent or mortgage payment, you can write-off a percentage of these expenses depending on how much of your home is used for your business.

Property Taxes
Owning a home in Canada can be very expensive and very rewarding at the same time. Fortunately, if you work from home, you can claim a portion of your property tax bill as a write-off.

Do you pay for rental or homeowner insurance? You can write off a portion of these costs as home office write-offs.

Cleaning expenses, home repairs, snow removal… these are all tax-deductible expenses if you work from home.

Do you use your phone for work? You can write off a portion of this monthly bill as well.

Home Office Expense
Most web developers sit at their desks for long periods of time, so creating an ergonomic workspace is pretty key. Office fixtures like a desk, office chair, and second desktop monitor are all tax-deductible purchases.

Meeting with clients?

Imagine this scenario: a potential client is impressed with your website and has enjoyed chatting with you over the phone, and now they want to meet in person. You’re one step closer to winning their business.

First impressions really count. While you’ll want to make sure you do your research beforehand, you also need to think about where you’ll be meeting them. Depending on your relationship with this client, you may not want to meet this person at your house or a neighbourhood coffee shop.

Fortunately, there are a number of options you could explore. For instance, you could meet them at a local coworking space, book a meeting room for the day, or take them out for a meal at a nice restaurant. Whichever option you go with, remember that these expenses are also tax-deductible.

Office Rental

Co-working space memberships, day passes and room booking fees are all expenses that can be written off.

Food and Drink
If you discuss work with a coworker, client, or even a friend at a restaurant, it’s a write-off!

Travel for work?

Think you don’t need to travel for work as a freelance developer? Think again. While developers can do the majority of their work from home or an office space, there will likely be times where you’ll need to meet with a client in person or attend a conference.

If you drive to meet with a client or coworker, or to attend a conference or out-of-town meet-up—you can claim car-related write-offs. These include expenses like gas, car maintenance, insurance and registration, parking, tolls, and the annual depreciation of your car.

If you’re travelling out of the city or out of the country, airfare, train tickets and rental car fees can also be written off.

When you travel for work, lodging expenses such as hotel rooms or Airbnb bookings are write-offs.

Food and Drink
When you’re travelling for work, all meals are tax-deductible. Even takeout.

If you enjoyed reading this article, I write about all things business finance in Canada and you can find more more resources here.

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