What Is Self Employment Tax? Tax Guide For Freelancer
Being your own boss is great. It also means your taxes can be more complex. This self employment tax guide walks you through the self employment tax basics of what to expect. We’ll also spotlight some valuable deductions that could lower your tax bill.
Self Employment Tax Basics Checklist
Your tax situation becomes a bit trickier as a self-employed worker. This applies if you’re starting your own bakery, driving for Uber, starting your own consulting firm or are a real estate agent.
your tax situation will become slightly trickier than if you were a W-2 employee.
Here’s a checklist of the self employed tax basics you need to be aware of and we’ll dive into more details below:
- You have to pay federal income tax on your net profit (income minus deductions)
- You have to pay the Self Employment tax of 15.3 percent, this goes to Medicare and Social Security
- You’ll likely have to pay estimated quarterly taxes
- Deductions can greatly reduce your tax bill.You likely qualify for more deductions than a W-2 worker
One of the main things you should know about the self employed tax basics is that how you legally organize your business has different tax implications. This post focuses on the taxes a self-employed, sole proprietor has to worry about.
For your self employed tax basics, you’ll have to first figure out your net profit or net loss from your business. The basic math is simple. Subtract your business expenses from your business income to get to your net profit or net loss. Use IRS Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, to determine your net business income.
In general, you must file an income tax return if your net earnings from your business were $400 or more. You may still have to file if you meet certain requirements and your net earnings were less than $400. You can deduct most net losses from your gross income. But, there are some limitations to what you can consider as a loss.
What Is Self Employment Tax?
Self-employed workers must file an annual tax return and most must pay estimated quarterly taxes. You’ll likely pay federal income tax, applicable state and local income taxes, and the Self Employment Tax—which consists of Social Security and Medicare taxes.
The Social Security tax is a flat rate on net self-employment income up to an annual income ceiling. That ceiling is adjusted for inflation. The Medicare tax is a flat rate with no income ceiling, and it includes an extra tax for those earning over a certain threshold.
Self Employment Tax Rate 2016
When it comes to self employed tax basics, you need to know what your tax rate will be. The current self employment tax rate is: 15.3 percent.
- 12.4 percent of this goes toward Social Security
- 2.9 percent for Medicare.
This is the amount of you have to pay every quarter in addition to your annual return on your income.
Estimated Taxes and Tax Due Dates
Sole proprietors pay the self employment tax to the IRS four times per year as part of their estimated taxes. Self-employed people generally must make estimated tax payments if they expect to owe taxes of $1,000 or more when they file the return. When filing your annual tax return, include IRS Form SE to show the IRS how much Self-Employment tax you were required to pay for the year.
For 2016, the estimated tax due dates are April 18, June 15, September 15 and January 17, 2017. Each due date covers the income received in the three-month period before it. The estimated tax due dates will fall during the same general time frame each year. These can vary based on holidays or weekends.
|Income Received for the Period||Estimated Tax Due Date|
|Jan. 1 through March 31||April 18|
|April 1 through May 31||June 15|
|June 1 through Aug. 31||Sept. 15|
|Sept. 1 through Dec. 31||Jan. 15 of the following year|
Freelancer Tax Guide: Deductions You Can Take
I can’t stress how important it is for self-employed workers to know what deductions they can take. The more deductions you have, the lower your taxable income will be. Lower taxable income means you’ll pay less income tax. Let’s take a look at some valuable tax deductions sole proprietors can’t afford to miss.
Social Security, Medicare Deduction
W-2 workers also pay Social Security and Medicare taxes through payroll taxes. But, the employer shells out half of it. Because of this, self-employed workers can deduct 50 percent of their Self-Employment Taxes.
Health Insurance Tax Deduction
Self-employed workers have to pay for their medical expenses and health insurance out of their own pockets. Those who don’t have minimally adequate health insurance coverage are now subject to a tax penalty.
Self-employed workers can claim some special tax deductions to help with medical and health insurance costs. Self-employed workers can deduct health insurance premiums for themselves, their spouses and their dependents. This includes dental and long-term care coverage, as well.
There are some limitations on the health insurance tax deduction, though. You can only deduct as much as you earn from your business. If your business generated a net loss for the year, you can’t take this deduction. Additionally, you can’t take this deduction if you’re eligible to participate in a subsidized health insurance plan maintained by an employer. Still, it can reduce your bill when it comes to self-employment tax time.
Please read our guide to deducting medical expenses when you’re self-employed.
The Mileage Deduction
Taking advantage of the mileage deduction is a great way to lower your self employment tax bill. You can only use the mileage deduction for business trips. But, these can add up if you keep track or every drive.
Business driving includes travel between offices, driving for business-related errands, visiting customers, entertaining customers and more. Driving from your house to an office is considered commuting. This is never deductible, even if you’re doing work during the trip.
There are two ways to claim the business mileage deduction: using the standard mileage rate or the actual expense method. The standard mileage rate means you multiply the amount of business miles by the rate set by the IRS to find your deduction. The actual expense method requires keeping track of the costs for your car. This includes gas, insurance, tires, depreciation and more.
The standard mileage rate is far simpler and most tax experts recommend using this for the first year of a car’s business usage. You can always switch to the actual expense method the year after. And then, you can switch between the two in later years. If you start with the actual expense method, you’re not allowed to switch to the standard mileage rate.
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