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Blog Articles by: Brenda Cartwright

Tax Tips for Interpreters

Tax Tips for Interpreters

Interpreter Tips   |  Monday, March 9, 2015

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

Interpreters often do a lot of freelance / independent contractor work, and receive a Form 1099 at the end of the year to report their compensation.  When you are self-employed and do independent contractor work, there are several tax deductions that you can take advantage of.

Hopefully you have already been preparing yourself and organizing your taxes. Just in case you need it, here are some helpful hints:

  1. Take time to organize your information and all supporting documentation. Your estimated self-employment tax payments should be at least the same amount as in the previous years.
  2. The compensation received and reported on Form 1099 is reported on Schedule C, which is filed with your individual tax return. As a self-employed individual, you are eligible for business related expenses including advertising, office expenses, travel, and meals and entertainment. In most cases meals are limited to 50% of your incurred expense. Note: Make sure you save the receipt and write down with whom you were discussing business.
  3. For business related local transportation or overnight travel by car you can generally deduct either A) actual expenses or B) the standard mileage rate. Note: The 2014 standard mileage rate is $0.56 per business mile.
  4. Expenses for health insurance premiums may be 100% deductible. Self-employed individuals that are eligible for group insurance through their or their spouse’s employer are not eligible. Find out more about the Self-Employed Health Insurance Deduction.
  5. CEU workshops and travel expenses may be deducted.
  6. Expenses related to a home office are deductible if you use a space in your home exclusively and regularly for administrative and management activities of your trade or business and you have no other fixed location where you conduct substantial administrative or management activities of the trade or business. Find out more about the Home Office Deduction.
  7. Office supplies, postage, dues and subscriptions are deductible.
  8. Keep your receipts!  Keep your receipts for all deductions for 7 years.  It helps to clearly label your receipts with the type of deduction and what business project / client it was accrued for.

Tax rules change and can vary depending on your specific situation. It is always wise to check with a Certified Public Accountant to see how what deductions are applicable to your tax situation.

 

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

Guidelines to Help Interpreters When Doing Pro Bono Work

Guidelines to Help Interpreters When Doing Pro Bono Work

Interpreter Tips   |  Thursday, December 4, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

By offering pro bono services, interpreters are enriched professionally and personally. This is something interpreters should all do on a regular basis.  Pro bono work is an important part of professional development and it is a great way to help others in need, provide a gift to thank others, and give back to your community.

Interpreters provide a specialized skill and it has monetary value.  Interpreters are trained professionals who have and continue to invest a lot of time and money in being an interpreter. Additionally, quid pro quo, the deaf community has invested time in interpreters. It is important to avoid giving the impression that interpreting services are “no big deal.” This is an important conversation to have with our clients and among other interpreters. If clients do not understand the value of our services or that we interpret to earn a living, the gesture of pro bono work will not be valued.

By following some ground rules, you can set better expectations and have better working relationships with your clients (and friends) when doing pro bono work.

1. Establish the relationship.

Pro bono work is usually a one-time occurrence and the next interpreter will reasonably expect payment.  Before agreeing to a job, consider how/if doing this will affect the next interpreter who follows.

Evaluate the interpreter services required.

  • Is it going to be an ongoing situation or a one-time occurrence?
  • Is this a way to avoid paying for services that others customarily pay for?
  • Is it a gift (for example a wedding gift)?

Be willing to discuss the job and the client’s expectations bluntly so you are in agreement of what services you are providing. Is it a gift, a favor, or are you giving back to the community?

2. Define your services.

When a client knows up front that there are fees but that you are providing them pro bono, it is less likely for misunderstandings to happen.

Use the term “pro bono” as opposed to “volunteer.” Volunteers donate their time and are not necessarily trained professionals in a specific field, while pro bono work, short for pro bono publico, is when a professional provides their skills as a public service, typically to people who cannot afford their services.

There are many fields where it is common for professionals to engage in pro bono work, most notably lawyers, but also professionals in medicine, technology, architecture, marketing, and strategy consulting firms.  Sometimes a comparison between lawyers doing pro bono work and interpreters doing pro bono work helps clients understand the concept.

3. Determine and share the value.

Determine what you would normally charge for the services you provide and share that information with your client.

Fill out an invoice to show the amount it would have cost and then put $0.00 as the total due to show the true value.

Optionally, you could charge for your services and then donate that amount back to the organization. (However, if you choose this method, communicate that when establishing the relationship and defining your services).

Sharing the value will help the client to respect you as a professional, understand the value of the services you provide, and appreciate the pro bono work you provide.

If you have your own tips about taking Pro Bono work, we'd love to hear them. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

5 Tips for Being Successful in an Interpreter Training Program

5 Tips for Being Successful in an Interpreter Training Program

Interpreter Tips   |  Monday, October 20, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

This article is specifically for Interpreters in Training.

Interpreter Training Programs are both challenging and rewarding.  It is really up to the student to make the most of the Interpreter Training Program (ITP).  The more passionate and hard working you are, the more rewarding the experience will be.

Think for a moment about your definition of success. What does a successful person do? What does a successful person think? What does a successful person believe? How will you ensure that your time in your Interpreter Training Program is successful? What changes will you need to make?

Here are 5 tips for being successful in an Interpreter Training Program:

1. Set Yourself Up For Success

  • Plan your schedule and follow it.
  • Set goals and exceed them.
  • Control the things you can control.
  • Have a good support system.

2. Work Hard

  • Always act professionally.
  • See challenges to improve.
  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Stay focused.

3. Build Relationships

  • Socialize!
  • Get involved in your Sign Language Club.
  • Build bridges.

4. Learn and Grow

  • Ask questions.
  • Accept feedback.
  • Face your fears.
  • Do positive self-talk.
  • Learn from your mistakes.

5. Go Above and Beyond

  • Seek as many ah-ha moments as possible.
  • Jump at chances for “hands on” opportunities.
  • Observe as many different interpreters as you can.

Following these tips will help you make the most of your Interpreter Training Program and be well on the way to becoming a successful interpreter.

Are there other tips you would recommend? Share them in the comments below.

 

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

Prepare Your 10-Second Interpreter Elevator Pitch

Prepare Your 10-Second Interpreter Elevator Pitch

Interpreter Tips   |  Thursday, September 4, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

Interpreters often have just seconds to explain what we do to professional people who don’t really care. Say you just entered the elevator with the doctor of the deaf patient on the way up to the appointment.  What would you say? What’s your “elevator pitch?”

Try it out. Time yourself. Can you get it out in 10 seconds?

Here are some examples:

  • Hello, I am a certified Sign Language interpreter and I’m here to assist in communication between the hospital staff and the deaf patient. I look forward to working with you.
  • Hello, I am (your full name), a certified American Sign Language Interpreter. My job is to facilitate communication between you and the deaf patient.
  • Hello, I’m (your full name), I’m a certified Sign Language interpreter.  You can think of my role in facilitating conversations similar to a phone line. Anything I hear will be signed to the patient and anything they sign will be voiced to you.
  • Hello, I’m (your full name), I’m an interpreter. Anything you say to the client I will interpret into Sign Language. Go ahead and look directly at the client and I will make sure the message is conveyed.

You will want to tweak your elevator pitch for different audiences – always think about who you’re talking to and how you will be helping them so you can describe what you do in terms they will understand and in a way that relates to them.

Do you have your 10-second interpreter elevator pitch down pat?  We'd love to hear it!  Share it in the comments below.

 

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

Interpreter Q & A: Are Piercings Ok for Interpreters?

Interpreter Q & A: Are Piercings Ok for Interpreters?

Interpreter Tips   |  Wednesday, August 13, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

Dear BC,

Last week, while team interpreting in a post-secondary setting, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I noticed a shiny metal ball bouncing around on my partner’s tongue. I found it very distracting and fascinating at the same time. Every time she opened her mouth it was all I could see. I know our Deaf client noticed it too, because when she was called on in class she admitted she was not concentrating, and asked if the professor could please repeat the question. My question is – do I say something to my partner or wait for the Deaf client to say something to her?

Sincerely,
Unsure Partner

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

Experienced interpreter teams often have pre- and post- feedback sessions, not only with each other, but often include their consumers. If the Deaf consumer does not address the issue, you should tell your partner that "you" found it distracting and minimally suggest she consider using a clear ball instead of a metal one.

Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

As Deaf consumers have become more experienced and more empowered to speak up for ourselves in interpreting situations, we feel more comfortable addressing our needs directly with the interpreter. However, if for whatever reason the Deaf student does not address this "visual noise" issue with your partner, you should.

Have you experienced this problem too? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
 

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

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