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Self-employment tax

Self-employment tax is a tax consisting of Social Security and Medicare taxes primarily for individuals who work for themselves. It is similar to the Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from the pay of most wage earners.

You figure self-employment tax (SE tax) yourself using Schedule SE (Form 1040). Social Security and Medicare taxes of most wage earners are figured by their employers. Also you can deduct the employer-equivalent portion your SE tax in figuring your adjusted gross income. Wage earners cannot deduct Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Self-Employment Tax Rate

The 2010 Tax Relief Act reduced the self-employment tax by 2% for self-employment income earned in calendar year 2011. The self-employment tax rate for self-employment income earned in calendar year 2011 is 13.3% (10.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare).  The Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 extended the self-employment tax reduction of 2% for calendar year 2012 so the rates for 2011 remain in effect for 2012. For self-employment income earned in 2013, the self-employment tax rate is 15.3%. The rate consists of two parts: 12.4% for social security (old-age, survivors, and disability insurance) and 2.9% for Medicare (hospital insurance).

For both 2010 and 2011, the first $106,800 of your combined wages, tips, and net earnings are subject to any combination of the Social Security part of self-employment tax, Social Security tax, or railroad retirement (tier 1) tax. Income you make after $106,800 will not be subject to the Social Security tax.

All your combined wages, tips, and net earnings in the current year are subject to any combination of the 2.9% Medicare part of Self-Employment tax, Social Security tax, or railroad retirement (tier 1) tax.

If your wages and tips are subject to either Social Security or railroad retirement (tier 1) tax, or both, and total at least $106,800, do not pay the Social Security part of the self-employment tax on any of your net earnings.  However, you must pay the 2.9% Medicare part of the self-employment tax on all your net earnings.

If you use a tax year other than the calendar year, you must use the tax rate and maximum earnings limit in effect at the beginning of your tax year. Even if the tax rate or maximum earnings limit changes during your tax year, continue to use the same rate and limit throughout your tax year.

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