Topic no. 554, Self-employment tax

You're self-employed for this purpose if you're a sole proprietor (including an independent contractor), a partner in a partnership (including a member of a multi-member limited liability company (LLC) that is treated as a partnership for federal tax purposes) or are otherwise in business for yourself. The term sole proprietor also includes the member of a single member LLC that's disregarded for federal income tax purposes and a member of a qualified joint venture. You usually must pay self-employment tax if you had net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more. Generally, the amount subject to self-employment tax is 92.35% of your net earnings from self-employment. You calculate net earnings by subtracting ordinary and necessary trade or business expenses from the gross income you derived from your trade or business. You can be liable for paying self-employment tax even if you currently receive Social Security benefits. The law sets a maximum amount of net earnings subject to the Social Security tax. This amount changes annually. All of your net earnings are subject to the Medicare tax.

Optional methods

If you had a loss or small amount of income from your self-employment, it may be to your benefit to use one of the two optional methods to compute your net earnings from self-employment. Refer to the Instructions for Schedule SE (Form 1040) PDF to see if you qualify to use an optional method. An optional method may give you credit toward your Social Security coverage or increase your earned income credit or the child and dependent care credit.

Church employee

As an employee of a church or qualified church-controlled organization that elected exemption from Social Security and Medicare taxes, you must pay self-employment tax if the church or qualified church-controlled organization paid you more than $108.28, unless you are personally exempt from self-employment tax. If you're required to pay self-employment tax, attach Schedule SE (Form 1040), Self-Employment Tax and Schedule 2 (Form 1040), Additional Taxes PDF to your Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax ReturnForm 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors, or Form 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return. For more information on church-related income and self-employment taxes, refer to Publication 517, Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers.

Self-employment tax rate

The law sets the self-employment tax rate as a percentage of your net earnings from self-employment. This rate consists of 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare taxes.

Additional Medicare tax

Additional Medicare tax applies to self-employment income above a threshold. The threshold amounts are $250,000 for a married individual filing a joint return, $125,000 for a married individual filing a separate return, and $200,000 for all others. For additional information, refer to the Instructions for Form 8959, Additional Medicare Tax and Questions and answers for the Additional Medicare tax.

Reporting self-employment tax

Compute self-employment tax on Schedule SE (Form 1040). When figuring your adjusted gross income on Form 1040, Form 1040-SR, or Form 1040-NR, you can deduct one-half of the self-employment tax. You calculate this deduction on Schedule SE (attach Schedule 1 (Form 1040), Additional Income and Adjustments to Income PDF). The Social Security Administration uses the information from Schedule SE to compute your benefits under the Social Security program.

Additional information