Self-Employment Q&As

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If you work as a sole proprietor of your own business, it's important to plan ahead to make sure your taxes are paid and your business income and expenses are reported correctly. These Q&As may help answer questions you have about tax treatment of your business.

Am I self-employed?

If you operate a business and you are not an employee, you are generally self-employed. You can be self-employed in addition to your regular job as an employee.

Am I still self-employed if I own a business?

Probably. If you own a small business, you are generally self-employed unless you have formed a corporation. You may be called a sole proprietor, a partner in a partnership, an independent contractor, or a consultant.

If you form a corporation, and the corporation pays you as an employee, you are not self-employed for tax purposes.

What is self-employment tax?

When you are self-employed, you pay Social Security and Medicare tax as self-employment tax. Unlike wage earners who pay half of Social Security and Medicare tax themselves and their employers pay the other half, self-employed persons pay the entire tax themselves.

What do I include as self-employment income?

You should report all earnings generated from your business as self-employment income, including revenue from customers, clients, and organizations. To calculate your net self-employment income, TaxAct reduces these earnings by your allowable expenses.

What expenses can I deduct?

You can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses for your business. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Advertising and marketing expenses
  • Computer and Internet fees, computer maintenance
  • Contract labor; for example, if you pay an independent contractor
  • Dues and subscriptions related to your business
  • Rent on business property, such as your office or storefront
  • Interest on money you borrowed for business purposes
  • Taxes related to your business
  • Licenses and fees
  • Insurance, including liability insurance for your business
  • Payroll expenses
  • Expenses for business use of your car
  • Expenses for business use of your home
  • Depreciation on assets used in the business

What are estimated tax payments and who has to pay them?

If you have any income that is not subject to withholding, including self-employment income, you may need to send tax payments to the IRS four times a year to avoid owing interest and penalties when you file your return. These payments are called quarterly estimated tax payments.

You generally must make estimated tax payments if you expect your tax liability to exceed you're the tax withheld from your pay by $1,000 or more.

Do I have to make estimated tax payments if I also have income tax withheld from my job?

You may not have to make estimated tax payments if you have enough tax withheld from your job to cover taxes on all your income, including your self-employment income. You can even increase the amount you have withheld from your paycheck so it covers income from both sources.

Make sure you have enough total tax withheld and paid in estimated taxes to avoid a large tax bill when you file.

Do I have to make estimated tax payments only on income tax?

Estimated tax payments should cover both self-employment tax and income tax. Otherwise, you may owe a large tax bill, and potentially interest and penalties, at the end of the year.

Where is self-employment income and expenses on my tax return?

If you are a sole proprietor, TaxAct reports your business income and expenses on Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business.

TaxAct then reports all self-employment income on Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax. If you file a joint return and you and your spouse both have self-employment income, TaxAct reports each spouse's self-employment income on his or her own Schedule SE.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

February 10 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth quarter of 2018. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2018. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2018. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2018. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full.

February 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during January, report them to your employer Details

February 15 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2018 Details

February 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in January.

February 15 — All employers
Begin withholding income tax from the pay of any employee who claimed exemption from withholding in 2018, but did not give you Form W4 to continue the exemption this year.

February 15 — Individuals
If you claimed exemption from income tax withholding last year on the Form W-4, you must file a new Form W-04 by this date to continue your exemption for another year Details

February 18 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Washington's Birthday) Details

February 28 — All businesses
File information returns (for example, Forms 1099) for certain payments you made during 2018.

February 28 — Payers of gambling winnings.
File Form 1096 along with Copy A of all the Forms W2G you issued for 2018. If you file Forms W2G electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains January 31.

February 28 — All employers
File Form W3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, along with Copy A of all the Forms W2 you issued for 2018. If you file Forms W2 electronically, your due date for filing them with the SSA will be extended to March 31. The due date for giving the recipient these forms remains January 31.

February 28 — Large food and beverage establishment employers
File Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips. Use Form 8027T, Transmittal of Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, to summarize and transmit Forms 8027 if you have more than one establishment. If you file Forms 8027 electronically, your due date for filing them with the IRS will be extended to March 31.

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