Freelance work is the new 9 to 5. According to a survey released in October by Freelancer’s Union, freelancers now make up 35 percent of U.S. workers, and they collectively earned $1 trillion in the past year. That’s a lot of income—and a lot of complicated income tax to figure out.
Luckily for the self-employed in and around Bushwick, a nonprofit community resource is here to help with free tax planning workshops. This magical place is called Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, and if you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance you live within walking distance of one of their two locations.
In addition to all the helpful info you’re sure to get there, it should not go unmentioned that there will be free pizza at the upcoming “Tax Tips for Small Businesses” on Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m.
The workshop after that, “Tax Tips for Rental Income (including Airbnb),” will be on Saturday, Feb. 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. Topics of future workshops include: “Bookkeeping 101,” “What Type of Business Should I Become?,” and “Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Certification.”
We attended “Tax Tips for Freelancers” this past Saturday afternoon, January 14, at Brooklyn Cooperative’s DeKalb Avenue location. Tammy Wills, a small business tax counselor, and Laurel Leckert, who offers small business bookkeeping and tax support services, distributed follow-along handouts and gave a nearly two-hour presentation that covered freelancer taxes from A to Z. The 20-ish people in attendance were freelance editors, party planners, bike messengers, dog walkers, delivery service drivers, and more. Though their livelihood types were all over the map, they had many of the same questions, such as: How do I determine my home office deduction? Should I report cash income? What’s the difference between cost of goods sold and expenses? Wills and Leckert had answers to all of them.
You might be wondering if it’s kosher to take free tax advice from a bank—what if they have some kind of ulterior motive? Well, good news: Brooklyn Cooperative is not a bank! They are a non-profit credit union, meaning they earn their income by making fair rate loans and charging small fees for some types of accounts; they also receive government grants. They don’t invest money on Wall Street, and because they’re owned by members, not shareholders, they don’t have a mandate to make money—just a mission to offer fair and affordable financial services. So they really are here to help you and your neighbors.
This philosophy is evident even in the credit union’s interior design, which lacks the traditional glass panels that separate tellers from customers. “We’re not scared of the community we serve,” says Wills. “We’re right here to meet you.”
“And if you’re interested in divesting from banks that fund pipelines and contribute to the housing crisis,” adds Leckert, “switching your checking and savings accounts to our credit union is a great choice.” Check out their recent statement of core values as well.
Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union
Community development credit union whose mission is to support the economic development of our neighborhoods through consumer, business, and home loans and core financial services. Today Brooklyn Cooperative is helping to revitalize Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant, two of the most under-banked neighborhoods in New York City.
1474 Myrtle Ave (Bushwick) & 834 Dekalb Ave (Bed-Stuy) Brooklyn, New York
Tue-Thur 9am-4pm / Fri 9am-6pm / Sat 9am-2pm834
Mon 9am-6pm / Tue & Fri 9am-4pm / Wed & Sat 9am-2pm / Thur 11am-6pm
Mon-Sun: 7:00 am – 2:00 am
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