As a corporate flight attendant, many of us choose to work as an independent contractor or “freelance flight attendants.” Though there are many positives to freelancing, we do this mostly because we want to have some control over our lives and schedules.
However, when you choose this status of employment you must keep in mind that you are a business. You must learn all of the tax responsibility, how to market yourself, and how to protect yourself in a business owner sense. Being a business owner is not always easy but there are many rewards – if you do it right.
Since there is so much to know and so many business topics related to being a freelance flight attendant, I thought it would be best to break it up and not overload you with so much information in one sitting! Let’s start with taxes!
First, get yourself a good accountant – either hire someone that can help you handle all of the financials year-round, or find a tax firm/person (that knows aviation and works with crews on a normal basis) that you use at the end of each year. They will have a great list for you containing all the write-offs you need to be aware of all year long. (e.g. car mileage, car payments, training, laundry/dry cleaning, work clothing, cellphone, cellphone bill, administrative expenses, computer/Wi-Fi charges, additional transportation, even your watch!) The list goes on and on. As a contract flight attendant- everything you do and purchase that is work-related, is a write-off, so you need a good list as guidance. **I will post my recommendation for an aviation tax firm at the end.
Second, keep all receipts. Get really organized. Create a folder on your computer that you continually update all year long with receipt copies, expense reports, trip sheets, signed documents. Designate one folder for each company you contract for; this is the best system I have found so far.
Third, you may want to consider filing your taxes quarterly. If you work for a bunch of 1099 accounts that do not takes taxes out, this may work best for you. And on that subject, you will have mixed paperwork at the end of the year. From my experience, more and more companies do take taxes out for contractors but some do not. Personally, the tax firm I use works magic every year for me. I hand in all my receipts, tax forms and my write-off list, and they make it all happen.
Fourth, learn from your mistakes. Every year that I work freelance, I learn more and more about what I can and can’t write off, what is the best way to file, and most importantly – how I may have screwed up a previous year! Learn from others, too. Our community is full of flight attendants at every stage of the game. We are constantly sharing our experiences and our resources.
Fifth, there are classes offered to flight attendants that deal with the business of it all. If you are new, I suggest taking one. My favorite is Susan Friedenberg’s class: http://www.corporateflightattendanttraining.com/. If money is tight when you are starting out, try to save up throughout the year to set aside some cash for this.
Which brings me to my last point – Annual safety training comes up quick! As contracting flight attendants, we pay out of pocket for all of our training, so try your best to save up for that next year! Trust me, you will thank me for this one!
** Tax firm you may want to try – Airline Crew Taxes. email@example.com 281-540-3040. They are located in Texas, but you can do it all online with them from anywhere in the country.
If you have any questions about this article, contact Kathryn Martone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|This is an article by guest author Kathryn Martone, a corporate flight attendant and industry expert based in Los Angeles, California. Kathryn is the author of a novel and a popular industry blog, both of which are titled “Cobblestones and Heels.” Any thoughts expressed in this article are entirely Kathryn’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Air Culinaire Worldwide.|
If you would like to be considered for becoming a guest author, please contact email@example.com.