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bSolo Helps Independent Workers Tackle the Extra “Jobs” of a Soloist Career

bSolo on phone (Photo: Business Wire) Multimedia Gallery URL

DURHAM, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

  • First offering from bSolo, incubated in Fidelity Labs, helps independent workers save for and pay quarterly taxes
  • bSolo asks: “Show Us Your #TaxFace”

bSolo launched today to help a rapidly growing, but underserved segment of the population – independent workers or “soloists” – tackle the many “jobs” that come with pursuing an independent career. Many of the 57 million soloists today1 have chosen to work outside of the traditional workforce in favor of working for themselves because of the freedom and independence it affords. However, many of these soloists don’t realize that while going it alone has many advantages, it can have some downsides — including lack of dedicated workspace, benefits, accounting and a human resources department. These trade-offs create a list of unintended jobs independent workers must take on -- it is bSolo’s goal to help alleviate some of these responsibilities. One of the jobs that creates the most friction in soloists’ lives is having to pay quarterly taxes. To help reduce that friction, bSolo designed a smart tax assistant that helps self-employed workers set aside money for quarterly taxes whenever they get paid. At customers’ direction, bSolo also enables direct payment of federal and state tax payments on their behalf.

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“We created bSolo because the independent workforce is growing at a rate currently outpacing the support systems available today,” said Duke Chang, co-founder and head of bSolo. “In a traditional workplace, most benefits are administered through payroll – a system that soloists can’t access. bSolo’s smart tax assistant is our first step toward creating a structure for soloists that can later become a platform for accessing some of these benefits. bSolo is in a position to make a difference in soloists’ lives.”

The Soloist Savings Gap
On average, full-time independent workers earn $69,100 per year,2 and the U.S. Treasury reports that only 15 percent of independent workers who earned between $65,000 and $110,000 in 2014 made a retirement savings contribution that year, compared to 55 percent of the traditionally employed workforce.3 To better understand this savings gap, bSolo surveyed 1,000 freelancers nationwide and personally interviewed another 107 soloists.4 From this research, bSolo identified the following top challenges of a soloist career:

Top Challenges of a Soloist Career:

  • Saving regularly for long or short-term/unexpected needs
  • Managing taxes and other business administration needs
  • Finding and managing affordable benefits providers
  • Building a strong brand reputation and finding work when you want it
  • Achieving work/life balance

These identified challenges point out a significant obstacle to saving for the long term: a deep feeling of financial insecurity. Self-employed workers have complex financial lives. They are not supported by many of the defaults a traditionally-employed worker may take for granted – such as automated tax withholding and retirement contributions deducted from a paycheck or employer-sponsored medical leave. Fluctuating income streams, combined with ill-timed quarterly tax payments, compound this financial insecurity and can hold soloists back from saving for long-term and short-term needs. bSolo created its smart tax assistant to help self-employed people set aside money for quarterly taxes, instilling a sense of control and an understanding of their cash flow so that long-term savings can become reality. Not only does bSolo provide soloists the control they desire, it also enables the payment of both federal5 and state tax payments on their behalf.

Show Us Your #TaxFace
bSolo is asking soloists to join in its “Show Us Your #TaxFace” campaign by sharing a story, photo or video on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that best expresses how they feel about managing taxes as an independent worker. In bSolo’s early conversations we heard:

  • “Every hour I spend on my taxes is an hour I’m not billing a client.”
  • “I have to pay quarterly taxes, but I haven’t received my first paycheck this year!”
  • “I have an advanced degree, and I still don’t know what I’m doing! How is this that hard?!”
  • “I dread sitting down and filling out tax forms. It makes me feel like an idiot.”
  • “It was definitely me crying on the phone with the IRS...it was frustrating!”

bSolo’s public beta and phased rollout begins today. bSolo currently supports federal tax payments in all states, and state tax payments in 28 out of the 41 states requiring quarterly estimated payments. To learn more about bSolo and its smart tax assistant, visit www.bsolo.com. To share your #TaxFace story, photo or video, join us at:

Twitter: @b_solo

Facebook: @wearebsolo

Instagram: @bsolo

About bSolo
bSolo’s mission is to inspire and empower the independent spirit. Our work combines the ingenuity of independent workers with industry-leading financial expertise. With smart services that filter out the chores of self-employment, we’re helping people spend more time on the work that matters and the better things in life. https://bsolo.com/

About Fidelity Labs
bSolo was created in Fidelity Labs, the new business incubator at Fidelity Investments. Fidelity Labs rapidly develops new products and businesses to improve the financial wellbeing of Fidelity’s current and future customers. Our small, cross-functional teams include people from startups, agencies, and industry-leading corporations. Together, they identify emerging market opportunities and use human-centered design and agile methodologies to create solutions designed to have impact at scale. http://fidelitylabs.com

bSolo does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material and website has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. Our banking parties, SynapseFi and Evolve Bank and Trust, Member FDIC, provide services such as deposit accounts, money movement, and bank linking.

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1 Freelancing in America Study, Upwork and Freelancers Union, 2017
2 MBO Partners, “The State of Independence in America,” 2018
3 Department of the Treasury Office of Tax Analysis Working Paper, “The Rise of Alternative Work Arrangements: Evidence and Implications for Tax Filing and Benefit Coverage,” January 2017.
4 The bSolo Study of the Independent Workforce incorporates a wide range of research methods. First, bSolo conducted a nationwide survey of 1,000 independent workers between November and December 2016. This included a TURF analysis to determine optimal feature combinations. In January 2017, bSolo began a design thinking approach of testing, learning, and iterating with potential customers. Over the next year, the bSolo team personally conducted 18 user-testing events and well over 100 hours of in-person testing of concepts, mockups, prototypes, language, brand assets and user experience to arrive at the first release of the bSolo smart tax assistant.
5 Residents in some states may only be able to pay Federal taxes initially using bSolo. See full user and state requirements at bsolo.com.

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