Back Button

Self-Employment Tax Forms: Everything You Need to Know

Izzy Turner

Self-employment is quite a joy, more so in the ever-evolving work landscape. You enjoy the flexibility needed to balance your work and life, which is a huge checkpoint in the modern, fast-paced world. Freelancers, sole proprietors, and independent contractors, among other self-employed individuals, have more control of their daily routine and usually work on areas they are passionate about. Such benefits continue to propel self-employment’s popularity globally, mainly with the advancing technologies that enhance how we manage work.

Despite the many advantages, self-employment isn’t without a few challenges. You won’t always enjoy smooth sailings, but the benefits usually outweigh the challenges. Nonetheless, even with success, you have to deal with some aspects that aren’t the most exciting. One such aspect is that you must deal with tax obligations, one of the most dreaded matters even by employed individuals and organizations.

Understanding Self-Employment Tax

Self-employment doesn’t mean you are excluded from taxes. Like their employed counterparts, self-employed individuals earning a set amount must file and remit taxes. This threshold is set at net annual earnings amounting to $400 or more.  Failure to accurately calculate and remit taxes could land you in trouble with the taxman. It is a form of tax evasion which can be treated as a federal and state felony. This means you could face fees and interest for unpaid tax or criminal charges.

So, do you know your self-employment tax obligations? Generally, you have to remit self-employment taxes and income tax. As per the IRS, self-employment tax is Social Security and Medicare tax. It is set at 15.3%, and it is much like the tax withheld from employed individuals’ pay. This generally means the tax is only in regards to Medicare and Social Security taxes and doesn’t refer to other taxes like income tax. Since it covers Medicare and Social Security, the 15.3% is subdivided into 2.9% (Medicare) and 12.4% (Social Security). Social Security benefits examples include disability insurance, retirees, and survivor benefits. Medicare covers hospital insurance.

Basics Overview of Self-Employment Tax Forms

Are you subject to self-employment tax? What’s your tax obligation, and what self-employment tax forms must you complete? Self-employment tax documentation can be quite complex. This is more since you may have to complete a few IRS forms considering your self-employment source of income.

Striving to handle tax matters and ensure you are in financial compliance can shift your focus from core functions, impacting your productivity. However, this doesn’t have to be the case; you can leverage professional tax assistance services. The professionals have the skills and experience you need to calculate your taxes accurately without taking time off your primary tasks. The professionals know the tax forms you need to fill out, and with their guidance, you’ll ensure your tax obligations don’t get in the way of running a successful self-employment venture. Let’s look at the self-employment tax forms you should know.

Form 1040: Individual Income Tax Return

Form 1040 is the first self-employment tax form you have to fill. Anyone earning at least $400 must report their income. Form 1040 is the self-employed tax form you use to report your total income, deductions, and tax credits. Every self-employed US citizen, whether resident or in a foreign country, fills this form.  It is essentially the starting point in assessing your tax obligation. Individuals aged 65 or older can use Form 1040-SR as an optional alternative to Form 1040. Form 1040-SR uses the exact schedules as Form 1040. While identical, Form 1040-SR emphasizes certain tax benefits for individuals aged 65 or older.

Schedule C: Profit or Loss From Business

If you are a self-employed individual working primarily to make a profit and with regularity and continuity, you are required to pay tax. Schedule C is the self-employed tax return form where you detail your income or loss.  You fill out your revenue, expenses, and deductible. This allows you to calculate the net profit or loss, which is used to determine your tax obligation. This self-employment tax form emphasizes the need to maintain accurate records and not just for financial compliance.

The records ensure that you accurately detail your revenues and expenses, which can help lower the tax burden. Such contribution further emphasizes the need to work with a professional with experience in financial records and self-employment tax matters. The experts can help you spot more deductions you may be eligible to claim. This way, you can maximize tax deductions and lower net taxable income without worrying about financial compliance concerns.

Schedule SE: Self-Employment Tax

Schedule SE is the self-employed tax return form used in calculating tax liability for self-employed individuals. The calculation is based on the details as reported on Schedule C. Your net income determines the tax liability, and the Schedule SE determines the amount contributed to Social Security and Medicare. These contributions are vital for future healthcare coverage and retirement benefits, emphasizing the need to understand self-employment tax obligations and pay them accordingly.

Form 1099-MISC: Miscellaneous Income

Freelancers or independent contractors may receive Form 1099-MISC self-employment tax form from a client. This is mainly when the client pays at least $600 during a tax year.  The form reports miscellaneous income that is not subject to withholding, meaning you’ll independently record it on your tax returns. An example is freelancers rendering content writing or consultancy services to a company as independent contractors, not a part of an in-house team. Remember that the client fills out Form 1099-MISC, which includes your Social Security number. Therefore, the IRS will likely spot if you do not include such income on your tax returns.

Form 1099-NEC: Nonemployee Compensation

Form 1099-NEC was reintroduced in 2020, and it is similar to Form 1099-MISC, which reports non-employee compensation equal to or more than $600 made within a tax year. Your client will complete and send this form to you, which you use to report self-employment on the annual tax returns.

The form helps separate nonemployee compensation from miscellaneous income. As an independent contractor or freelancer, among other self-employed individuals, understanding this form is crucial as you strive to maintain accuracy in your tax reports and avoid potential financial compliance concerns.

Form 1040-ES: Estimated Tax Payments

Individuals use Form 1040-ES to estimate and submit tax for income not subject to withholding. As a self-employed person, you make estimated quarterly tax payments. The payments are made throughout the year, covering your income and the arising self-employment tax liability. A smart trick to ensure the tax matters don’t take a toll on you is organizing your documents and developing a practical budget for the quarterly payments. This way, you’ll accurately calculate the tax liabilities and submit them on time, helping you avoid penalties and interest, such as due to underpayments.

Above are the key self-employment tax forms you should know. The list doesn’t cover every self-employed tax form, though, and you may need more based on your specific operations. For instance, self-employed individuals who use a part of their home may be eligible for a home office deduction. If you exclusively and regularly use a part of your home as an office, you could be eligible for deductions, for example, on utilities, rent, or mortgage payments. For these deductions, you need Form 8829. The deductions can significantly lower your self-employment taxable income, keeping more money in your pocket.

Why pay self-employment tax? Considering the complexities and many forms you may need to complete, as highlighted above, you might be wondering if it is worth the trouble. You are not subject to Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes as a self-employed person. You don’t have deductions on your paycheck like the employed counterparts. This means none of your income goes into funding Social Security and Medicare programs, which you’ll likely need in case of disability claiming benefits or retirement benefits.

That’s why the self-employment (SE) tax was introduced, which enables self-employed people to build up Social Security and Medicare credits. This means your tax goes a long way in securing your financial future. The benefits are undeniable, but calculating and submitting self-employment tax is not everyone’s cup of tea. Not to worry, though; RUUL has got you covered.

Streamline Your Self-Employment Tax Matters

Managing your self-employment taxes no longer has to be a hassle. You can turn to RUUL’s smart tax assistance services. You’ll enjoy automated services that allow you to track and accurately calculate all your income and expenses. This facilitates smooth tax assessment and remittance, helping you achieve 100% tax compliance.

RUUL’s automated smart tax assistance service is tailored to the needs of freelancers, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals. With the service, you won’t have to spend hours completing forms, calculating estimated tax, or tracking income, expenses, and eligible deductions. Even better, you can talk to experts on all tax-related matters, allowing you to optimize your tax savings and pocket more income. Let RUUL’s innovative tax assistance service do all the heavy lifting. This way, you can finally relax and offer your clients the best without worrying about breaching tax regulations.


Join the 70.000+ talents using Ruul.
Have doubts? Read 270+ reviews here.

  • Invoice clients without a company
  • Get paid in 24 hours
  • Connect bank accounts or wallets
  • No client sign up required
What does Ruul do?
Who is Ruul for?
How does Ruul work?
Is there a subscription fee?
How long does it take for me to receive the payment?
How does my client pay?
What about taxes?