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The nature of modern economy has rapidly shifted since the onset of the Great Recession. In place of traditional ‘9-to-5’ jobs, many working people in the United States and across the world have started ‘gig’ careers. These gigs comprise multiple part-time jobs that workers cobble together to make up or exceed the previous salaries that they were paid for ‘9-to-5’ jobs.
There are both upsides and downsides to this shift towards Gig Economy; a glaring negative is the lack of stability. Moreover, if you have a family, working multiple gigs means your take-home pay varies from week-to-week, which can make family planning difficult and subject to minor downturns in local economic circumstances. For instance, say you depend on working as a rideshare driver (i.e. as a Lyft or Uber driver) for 40% of your income per week, but there is a terrible snowstorm in your town shutting roads down for the better part of a week; this situation will mean that your income will drastically decline during the week, making bill payments and paying for necessities very difficult, especially if you have a family. On the other hand, if you think of yourself as a creative, and have a passion and drive for pursuing a career in the arts, the gig economy can provide a nice income cushion to further the pursuit of your dreams. For example, let’s say you want to create comic books, but you have talent at digital design as well, allowing you to complete part-time projects for tech firms that want to re-design their websites. By accepting these part-time jobs, you can still focus on creating comic books half of the time, while generating an income that you can invest in your comic book career. In summation, the Gig Economy has fundamentally changed the economic landscape of the modern world, and in the future more and more workers will want to or have to pursue gigs as their paths.
That being said, living as a gig worker requires some financial alterations that many traditional workers do not have to experience, namely for taxes. If you are a gig worker, you will have to file taxes in the U.S. as an independent contractor. Taxes and tax filing for independent contractors are much complex and frequent than for traditional salaried workers. Therefore, my startup, FormSwift, which is a SaaS platform that helps entrepreneurs and organizations efficiently fill out and share online business and legal forms, decided to create an essential guide to taxes and business for freelancers. Our guide works for freelancers around the world, although the tax portion is specific to people that do gig work in the U.S. In summation, with our guide, we hope that we can bring a little more stability to financial and life planning for gig workers, so that you can focus more on growing your career and opportunities for the future!
By Jackson Hille, a Content Associate for FormSwift and 2014 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.