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Setting up in Los Angeles. Need Advice being self employed.

taxes insraunce Freelance self employed

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#1 Alexander Sutton Hough

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 02:15 PM

Hi, 

 

I am pursuing becoming a freelance cinematographer in LA and researching what I need to know in terms of taxes and insurance for being self employed in this field.

 

I have equipment insurance to cover my own camera and lighting package plus some extra to rent gear under 15k. The 15k rental is mostly for gear for smaller personal projects. But for paid work would it be worth it to up my equipment rental insurance or should that always be the responsibility of the production and not the DP? 

 

Workers Comp. Is this something I need to have for myself? My friend who is a producer for commercial work says she won't hire a DP who doesn't have their own workers comp. Is this standard practice in LA?

 

Besides learning about taxes for being self employed is there any specific things about being a freelance Director of Photography I should be aware of or look into?

 

Invoices and getting paid. What are the best practices for this process?

 

What other expenses being self employed should I be aware of? Are there other insurances I should have? 

 

Thank you for any advice or information. There's a lot of mixed information out there and I just want to get some real perspectives from working DPs.

 


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 06:26 PM

I've never had to carry worker's comp, but i work primarily in narrative where i'm just on payroll and pay my taxes like a normal employee. Also generally on those shows we rent kit from a rental house somewhere and production has insurance for it.

A lot will depend on the work you do-- it sounds more like you're looking at music video and corporate gigs where you'd be the production company; that's a world I don't know at all.

I will say, the best advice you can get online is not to get advice online and to consult a business attorney as well as an accountant with your specific needs.

15K rental, btw, won't get you much; production insurance is in the 100K+ range. I've had rental houses need 1mil in coverage to take out lenses, which, quite honestly, often are 15K a pop.


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#3 Richard Boddington

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 07:51 PM

Besides learning about taxes for being self employed 

 

Take a close look at the self employment tax, it's truly frightening.  You'll also be paying tax on a quarterly basis, another nightmare as your income will go up and down wildly as a freelancer.



What are My Self-Employed Tax Obligations?

As a self-employed individual, generally you are required to file an annual return and pay estimated tax quarterly.

Self-employed individuals generally must pay self-employment tax (SE tax) as well as income tax. SE tax is a Social Security and Medicare tax primarily for individuals who work for themselves. It is similar to the Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from the pay of most wage earners. In general, anytime the wording "self-employment tax" is used, it only refers to Social Security and Medicare taxes and not any other tax (like income tax).

Before you can determine if you are subject to self-employment tax and income tax, you must figure your net profit or net loss from your business. You do this by subtracting your business expenses from your business income. If your expenses are less than your income, the difference is net profit and becomes part of your income on page 1 of Form 1040. If your expenses are more than your income, the difference is a net loss. You usually can deduct your loss from gross income on page 1 of Form 1040. But in some situations your loss is limited. See Pub. 334, Tax Guide for Small Business (For Individuals Who Use Schedule C or C-EZ) for more information.

You have to file an income tax return if your net earnings from self-employment were $400 or more. If your net earnings from self-employment were less than $400, you still have to file an income tax return if you meet any other filing requirement listed in the Form 1040 instructions (PDF).

 

R,


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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 03:03 PM

 Workers Comp. Is this something I need to have for myself? My friend who is a producer for commercial work says she won't hire a DP who doesn't have their own workers comp. Is this standard practice in LA?

 

 

Worker's Comp is provided by your employer, it's not something you provide for yourself. It's possible she means Liability insurance. I've never been asked to provide it though.


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