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Self Employed Legal Assistant

I am a self employed legal assistant. I have just started this. Right now I am going into a law office and working. What can I claim on my taxes doing this? I know when I’m working from home, I can claim that stuff. But what about when I’m in an actual office?

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5 Replies
rjs
Level 15
Level 15

Self Employed Legal Assistant

As a self-employed contractor doing office work in someone else's office, there is probably very little if anything that you can claim as business expenses. You cannot claim the cost of commuting to and from the office. If you provide any of your own office supplies you can deduct the cost. If you buy any legal reference material or books that you need for the work, you could deduct the cost of those. That's about all I can think of. Maybe someone else will have some other suggestions.

 

Self Employed Legal Assistant

since a potential list could be virtually endless, what expenses did you incur do you think might be deductible?  

Self Employed Legal Assistant

I do still use my personal phone texting and calling the attorney, since he does not like the office phone tied up. I also use my vehicle without being paid anymore to run his errands during the day. But I wasn’t for sure if those things could be counted…: since I’m just starting out at this. 

Self Employed Legal Assistant


@Charvey  wrote:

I do still use my personal phone texting and calling the attorney, since he does not like the office phone tied up. I also use my vehicle without being paid anymore to run his errands during the day. But I wasn’t for sure if those things could be counted…: since I’m just starting out at this. 


Your daily commute to and from work is never deductible, but running errands for work during the day is deductible if you are self-employed as an independent contractor.   There are two methods of doing this, the rules are covered in chapter 4 of publication 463.

https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-publication-463

 

If you have a cell phone that is only used for work, that is deductible (the cost of the phone might be an expense or it might need to be amortized as an asset, and the monthly bill would be an expense).  If you use your personal cell phone for work, you can possibly deduct a percentage of the bill equal to the percentage of business use, but you need a reliable method of determining what that business percentage is and you need to keep records in case of audit.  Maybe minutes of personal vs business use, maybe the number of calls and texts that are personal or work.

 

Supplies you pay for that are not reimbursed can be an expense.  If you buy your own computer, that may be allowable as an expense or as an asset, but as before, if it is also used for personal use, you must have a reliable method of allocating personal and business use and keep records.

 

You may want to double check that your business relationship is that of an independent contractor and not an employee.  We wouldn't want your attorney to be cheating you out of certain employee benefits.

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/independent-contractor-self-employed-o...

 

Other general information about business expenses is here.

https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-publication-535

 

If you have a regular place of work you usually go outside the home (such as the attorney's office) then you can't claim a deduction for a home office even if you sometimes work from home. 

 

You will need to be prepared to keep good records of income and expenses, and you will need to pay quarterly estimated income taxes.

 

@VolvoGirl  has more on the topic of people who are newly self-employed. 

Self Employed Legal Assistant

I'm going to add a couple of additional comments since you indicate you are just starting out:

  • Hopefully you have a legal contract that the law office signed.  This should provide details of your role as a legal assistant, responsibilities, etc.
  • In conjunction with bullet number 1, your facts don't indicate what the "errands" consist of.  Are these errands part of the role of a legal assistant or are they errands that are personal in nature that the attorney doesn't have time to handle?  This is key, as if it is the later, those won't be deductible as they are not ordinary and necessary expenses to perform the role of a legal assistant.  While you may believe they are necessary to stay "employed" they aren't necessary for the role of legal assistant.
*A reminder that posts in a forum such as this do not constitute tax advice.
Also keep in mind the date of replies, as tax law changes.
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