Ask Money

Freelancers and unemployment insurance

Chris Farrell Feb 2, 2009

Question: i am a self- employed artist. all of the news about record numbers of people collecting unemployment benefits has me wondering if these benefits are also available to self-employed people whose incomes dry up. i am currently managing to pay all of my bills and even save little bit of money but am concerned about what i will do in the future if i am unable to earn enough money/find a job. thanks, jenny, minneapolis, MN

Answer: One of the drawbacks of being self-employed is that you’re usually ineligible for unemployment insurance once work dries up. The most common reason why artists operating as a freelance sole proprietor are excluded is that they file their income on a Schedule FC tax form. Yes, you get to take tax deductions as an operating business, but in most cases you can’t claim unemployment insurance.

I want to emphasize the phrase, “in most cases.” The rules surrounding unemployment insurance are complicated. So, if you ever do find yourself in need of filing, check with a professional. You can get good information at online resources geared toward artists in most major metropolitan areas.

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