Self-Employed? Here’s What You Need to Know About Taxes

Are you self-employed or considering becoming self-employed? While being your own boss has many benefits, it also comes with unique tax responsibilities that you need to be aware of. In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of self-employment taxes and provide tips on how to manage them.

Understanding Self-Employment Taxes

As a self-employed individual, you are responsible for paying both the employee and employer portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes. This is often referred to as self-employment tax, and it can add up quickly.

Calculating Self-Employment Tax

Self-employment tax is calculated based on your net self-employment income. To calculate your net self-employment income, you subtract your business expenses from your total self-employment income.

Once you have your net self-employment income, you can calculate your self-employment tax using IRS Form 1040 Schedule SE. The current self-employment tax rate is 15.3%, which includes 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare.

Estimated Quarterly Taxes

Because self-employed individuals don’t have an employer withholding taxes from their paycheck, they must make estimated tax payments throughout the year. These payments are due quarterly and are based on your projected income and self-employment tax liability.

If you fail to make estimated tax payments, you may be subject to penalties and interest. To avoid this, it’s important to plan ahead and stay on top of your estimated tax payments.

Deductible Business Expenses

One of the benefits of being self-employed is that you may be able to deduct certain business expenses from your taxable income. These expenses can include:

  • Home office expenses
  • Business travel expenses
  • Office supplies and equipment
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Retirement contributions

Home Office Deduction

If you use a portion of your home exclusively for business purposes, you may be eligible for the home office deduction. This deduction allows you to deduct a portion of your home expenses, such as rent, mortgage interest, property taxes, utilities, and home insurance.

To qualify for the home office deduction, the space must be used regularly and exclusively for business purposes. There are two methods for calculating the deduction: the simplified method and the regular method.

Business Travel Expenses

If you travel for business purposes, you may be able to deduct the expenses related to the trip, such as airfare, lodging, meals, and transportation. To qualify, the trip must be primarily for business purposes and the expenses must be ordinary and necessary.

Retirement Contributions

Self-employed individuals can contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement plan, such as a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) or a Solo 401(k). Contributions to these plans are tax-deductible and can help reduce your taxable income.


As a self-employed individual, it’s important to keep accurate records of your income and expenses. This will not only help you manage your tax liability, but it will also make it easier to apply for loans or financing in the future.

Recordkeeping Best Practices

To ensure you have the documentation you need come tax time, consider implementing the following recordkeeping best practices:

  • Use accounting software to track income and expenses
  • Keep receipts and invoices for all business expenses
  • Separate business and personal expenses
  • Keep a mileage log for business-related travel

Working with a Tax Professional

Managing your own taxes as a self-employed individual can be complex, which is why many self-employed individuals choose to work with a tax professional. A tax professional can help you navigate the tax code, minimize your tax liability, and ensure you’re in compliance with all tax laws.

Choosing a Tax Professional

When choosing a tax professional, it’s important to find someone who has experience working with self-employed individuals. Look for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent (EA) who specializes in small business taxes.


Being self-employed comes with many benefits, but it also comes with unique tax responsibilities. Understanding self-employment taxes, deductible business expenses, record keeping best practices, and working with a tax professional can help you stay on top of your tax liability and avoid penalties and interest.


  1. What is the difference between an employee and a self-employed individual for tax purposes? An employee has taxes withheld from their paycheck by their employer, while a self-employed individual is responsible for paying their own taxes.
  2. Can I deduct my home internet and phone expenses as a business expense? Yes, if you use your internet and phone primarily for business purposes, you may be able to deduct a portion of the expense.
  3. What happens if I can’t pay my self-employment tax? If you can’t pay your self-employment tax, you may be able to set up a payment plan with the IRS or request an extension.
  4. What is the penalty for failing to make estimated tax payments? The penalty for failing to make estimated tax payments depends on the amount of tax owed and the length of the delinquency.
  5. How can I find a tax professional who specializes in small business taxes? You can search for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent (EA) who specializes in small business taxes on the IRS website or through professional associations such as the National Association of Enrolled Agents or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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