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Top Six Tax Tips for the Self-Employed

Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

IRS Tax Tip 2013-46, April 2, 2013

When you are self-employed, it typically means you work for yourself, as an independent contractor, or own your own business. Here are six key points the IRS would like you to know about self-employment and self-employment taxes:

  1. Self-employment income can include pay that you receive for part-time work you do out of your home. This could include income you earn in addition to your regular job.
     
  2. Self-employed individuals file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with their Form 1040.
     
  3. If you are self-employed, you generally have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. You figure this tax using Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax.
     
  4. If you are self-employed you may have to make estimated tax payments. People typically make estimated tax payments to pay taxes on income that is not subject to withholding. If you do not make estimated tax payments, you may have to pay a penalty when you file your income tax return. The underpayment of estimated tax penalty applies if you do not pay enough taxes during the year.
     
  5. When you file your tax return, you can deduct some business expenses for the costs you paid to run your trade or business. You can deduct most business expenses in full, but some costs must be ’capitalized.’ This means you can deduct a portion of the expense each year over a period of years.
     
  6. You may deduct only the costs 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 appropriate for your trade or business.

For more information, visit the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center on the IRS website. There are three IRS publications that will also help you. See Publications 334, Tax Guide for Small Business; 535, Business Expenses and 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. All tax forms and publications are available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Additional IRS Resources:

IRS YouTube Videos:

  • Estimated Tax Payments - English | Spanish | ASL

IRS Podcast:

  • Estimated Tax Payments - Spanish

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