27 Tax Write-Offs for Freelance Translators & Interpreters

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Whether you're translating court documents or speculative fiction, you know at least two languages — perhaps even several. But can you speak "IRS"?

If the rules around filing your self-employment taxes feel more like gibberish, don't worry, you're not alone in that. Keeper is here to be your own personal IRS translator!

We have a guide that breaks down the tax filing process into simple, easy-to-understand steps. We also have this list of the best write-offs for translators to help lower your tax bill. Keep both handy at tax time, and whether you work on ancient Greek or ASL, you can let your savings speak for themselves.

📜
Translator certifications
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 27a

Write off any fees you pay to become a certified translator, like for the ATA exam or language-specific exams like the HSK.

📖
Translation tools
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 27a

Foreign dictionaries, grammars, and lexicons used for translation can be deducted. That goes for app versions too!

🖥️
Translation software
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 18

Write off subscriptions or licensing fees for translation software.

⌨️
Writing software
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 18

Writing tools like Grammarly and Hemingway are tax-deductible. So are word processors like Scrivener and transcription software for interviews.

📝
Office supplies
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 18

Deduct anything you buy for your office, like pens, binders, folders, printer ink, or a whiteboard.

📱
Phone, laptop, accessories
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 27a

If buy a phone or laptop and use it for work, it's partially deductible.

🎓
Continued education
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 27a

Classes you take to enhance your skills after getting your license are tax write-offs.

📚
Books & courses
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 27a

Keeping up with the latest trends and techniques with books and courses can be written off.

🌐
Website & hosting fees
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 8

Squarespace, Wix, GoDaddy, and other website service fees are fully tax-deductible.

💬
Advertising
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 8

Print and online advertising costs for your business are considered write-offs.

🛠️
Contract labor
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 11

Write off the fees you pay to contract labor to help you complete projects.

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If you drive for work ...

If things get lost in translation when you read up on IRS rules, let us clear up car-related deductions. As long as you drive your car for work — like to pick up office supplies, meet a client, or attend an event you're interpreting — you can write off expenses related to your car.

🅿️
Parking
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 27a

Parking for a meeting downtown, or any other work trip, is tax-deductible!

🛣️
Tolls
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 27a

A toll while driving to or from a work destination is tax-deductible!

🚘
Car purchase & depreciation
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 13

If you buy a new car, you can write off part of the cost every year for five years.

🧰
Vehicle tool kit
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 22

Flashlights, tire iron, duct tape, and other tools you may need in your vehicle are deductible.

☂️
Car insurance & registration
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 15

Car insurance monthly fees, registration, even roadside assistance are partially deductible.

🔧
Car maintenance
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 9

Oil changes, repairs, and regular checkups are all tax-deductible if you drive for work.

If you discuss work at a restaurant ...

If you go to a restaurant or coffee shop to chat about a project you're working on or industry insights with a teacher, client, an author you're translating, or a fellow translator or terp, remember to claim the business meal deductions.

🍔
Business meals
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 24b

If you discuss work with a coworker, mentor, client, or prospective client, it's a write-off!

If you leave town for work ...

Trips that are directly related to your work, like attending a translation conference or meeting with an out-of-town client, count as business trips and the costs can be written off on your taxes.

🛫
Transportation
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 24a

Planes, trains, and car rentals are all work-related travel costs that can be written off.

🏨
Travel lodging
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 24a

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

🥡
Meals while traveling
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 24a

When you're traveling for work, all meals are tax-deductible. Even takeout!

If you work from home ...

If you WFH on things like translation projects for clients or attending virtual meetings, you can claim home office deductions.

🛋️
Home office furniture
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 18

A desk, chairs, lamps, and other home office necessities are all tax write-offs.

🛠️
Property repairs
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 21

You can write off up to $2,500 for individual repairs to your property.

🔌
Power bill
Write it off using:

Form 8829

Gotta keep the lights on in your home office! A portion of your electricity bill counts.

🌪️
Property insurance
Write it off using:

Form 8829

Whether it's rental or homeowners insurance, you can write off a portion through your home office deduction.

🚰
Water bill
Write it off using:

Form 8829

It'd be hard to work in an office without running water, huh? You water bill counts.

🌐
Wi-Fi bill
Write it off using:

Schedule C, Box 25

Your Comcast bill is a tax write-off. You need internet to do your job!