Written by Carl Rosenberg; copy edited by Maggie Clark
On Saturday, September 29, Editors BC presents Jessica Somers’ seminar on tax and finance for freelancers. This six-hour seminar will give an introduction to basic tax and finance issues for freelancers, including GST/HST registration, bookkeeping and record retention, and building financial stability without a salary. For editors new to freelancing, the seminar covers the basic essentials. And veteran freelancers will learn tips and tricks, have their questions answered, and clarify the details. See the registration page for more details.
Jessica Somers is a chartered professional accountant (CPA, CGA) with over 10 years of experience advising freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in Vancouver on tax, accounting, and business process. She is the founder of Cordova Street Consulting, a new firm in Gastown, which focuses on knowledge sharing, outreach, and taking the stress and mystery out of tax. Jessica is a facilitator and session leader at the CPA Western School of Business, where she teaches the next generation of Vancouver accountants and tax advisors.
Carl Rosenberg, a volunteer on Editors BC’s communications and social media committee, spoke to Jessica about her work on tax and finance issues for freelancers.
Hello, Jessica! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. How did you come to your career as an accountant and teacher on finance and business?
Thanks, Carl! I’m looking forward to working with Editors BC again—such a passionate group of people!
I grew up around artists and language teachers, so my math-y skillset was a novelty. I’m proud to be a chartered professional accountant and a certified general accountant who works with arts-based businesses, non-profits, and passionate business owners. It’s such a pleasure to be able to help people using my accounting and tax background.
Becoming an accountant was an easy choice given my love of numbers. What’s been a real surprise and pleasure is how much of a people-intensive business it is. Over the years, working with passionate people has become what I really love about what I do!
What is the main financial challenge facing freelancers?
For freelancers, the biggest challenge is having to be an expert in everything! Invoicing, collecting from clients, taxes, savings, and investments—suddenly and immediately you’re responsible for everything. Many freelancers get overwhelmed in the early years and make small mistakes that can be costly. Seek help and advice. You’ll learn more and more over time, but the early years are the hardest!
(Also, be aware that at $30,000, you have to register to collect GST—an often overlooked expensive mistake!)
How can freelancers make the most of their situation?
Financially, I would say that freelancing allows you to reap the benefits of your hard work. If you love what you do and you put the time in, freelancing will be lucrative for you. That said, there are many risks facing freelancers—for many, it is a fragile and stressful position to be in. Charging appropriate rates, having savings, and maintaining other safety nets are very important for freelancers.
On a lighter note, what are some of your favourite books and publications—finance- and business-related or otherwise?
I have to admit that the last year has been very work-focused for me, and I haven’t been reading novels in the way that I would normally. I’m a subscriber to Room Magazine, so I have taken to reading short stories and other forms of fiction that require less commitment. A short story or poem can sit with you in an impactful way. I love that!
Jessica, thank you very much for sharing your experience and expertise. We’re looking forward to your seminar on September 29.
Carl Rosenberg edited “Outlook: Canada’s Progressive Jewish Magazine” from 1998 to 2016. He has a diploma in Latin American studies from Vancouver Community College and a bachelor of arts in Spanish language and literature from UBC. He has recently begun volunteering with the communications and social media and committee of Editors BC.
Maggie Clark is a professional writer who enjoys editing work and creating digital art on the side. Throughout her career, she has worked hard to accumulate knowledge about the many different aspects of communication. Part of this work included earning a professional writing diploma from Douglas College, a bachelor of arts in professional communication degree from Royal Roads University, and an editing certificate from SFU. Currently, she enjoys using her years of experience and education to manage Editors BC’s blog.
Image provided by Jessica Somers