Tax Tips for the Self-Employed

If you are a self-employed, you normally carry on a trade or business. Sole proprietors and independent contractors are two types of self-employment. If this applies to you, there are a few basic things you should know about how your income affects your federal tax return. If you're self-employed, here are six important tax tips you should know about:

  • Self-Employment Income. Self-employment can include income you received for part-time work. This is in addition to income from your regular job.
  • Schedule C or C-EZ. You must file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with your Form 1040. You may use Schedule C-EZ if you had expenses less than $5,000 and meet certain other conditions. Please call if you are not sure whether you can use this form.
  • Self-Employment Tax. If you made a profit, you may have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. Use Schedule SE,Self-Employment Tax, to figure the tax. If you owe this tax, attach the schedule to your federal tax return.
  • Estimated Tax. You may need to make estimated tax payments. These payments are typically made on income that is not subject to withholding. You usually pay estimated taxes in four annual installments. If you do not pay enough tax throughout the year, you may owe a penalty. See, Estimated Tax Payments - Q & A, above, for more information about estimated tax payments.
  • Allowable Deductions. You can deduct expenses that you paid to run your business that are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and proper for your trade or business.
  • When to Deduct. In most cases, you can deduct expenses in the same year you paid, or incurred them. However, you must 'capitalize' some costs. This means you can deduct part of the cost over a number of years.

Questions about self-employment taxes? Help is just a phone call away.