A royal flush can be quite a rush. But the IRS casts a wide net when defining gambling income. It includes winnings from casinos, horse races, lotteries and raffles, as well as any cash or prizes (appraised at fair market value) from contests. If you participate in any of these activities, you must report such winnings as income on your federal return. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Self-Employment tax’ Category
Today’s technology makes self-employment easier than ever. But if you work for yourself, you’ll face some distinctive challenges when it comes to your taxes. Here are some important steps to take:
Learn your liability. Self-employed individuals are liable for self-employment tax, which means they must pay both the employee and employer portions of FICA taxes. The good news is that you may deduct the employer portion of these taxes. Plus, you might be able to make significantly larger retirement contributions than you would as an employee. (more…)
An employee or self-employed individual is allowed a deduction for the costs of meals and incidental expenses while traveling away from home for business purposes. The deduction of these costs usually requires the substantiation of the costs. However, there is an optional method provided for these taxpayers that avoids keeping receipts. (more…)
Many federal income taxes are paid from amounts that are withheld from payments to the taxpayer. For instance, amounts roughly equal to an employee’s estimated tax liability are generally withheld from the employee’s wages and paid over to the government by the employer. In contrast, estimated taxes are taxes that are paid throughout the year on income that is not subject to withholding. Individuals must make estimated tax payments if they are self-employed or their income derives from interest, dividends, investment gains, rents, alimony, or other funds that are not subject to withholding. (more…)
Taxpayers who are self-employed must pay self-employment tax on their income from self-employment. The self-employment tax applies in lieu of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes paid by employees and employers on compensation from employment. Like FICA taxes, the self-employment tax consists of taxes collected for Social Security and for Medicare (hospital insurance or HI).
The self-employment tax is levied and collected as part of the income tax. The tax must be taken into account in determining an individual’s estimated taxes. The self-employed taxpayer is responsible for the self-employment tax, in effect paying both the employer’s and the employee’s share of the tax. The tax is calculated on Schedule SE, filed with the individual’s income tax return, and is then reported on the Form 1040.
Self-Employment Tax Rate
The self-employment tax rate is 15.3 percent of self-employment income. This is the same overall percentage that applies to an employee’s compensation. The rate combines the 12.4 percent Social Security tax and the 2.9 percent Medicare tax. Self-employed individuals can deduct one-half of the self-employment tax. (For 2011 and 2012, the Social Security tax rate was reduced from 12.4 to 10.4 percent.) If the individual’s net earnings from self-employment are less than $400 (or $100 for a church employee), the individual does not owe self-employment tax.
Like FICA taxes, the 12.4 percent Social Security tax only applies to earning up to a specified threshold. For 2013, this threshold was $113,700; for 2014, the threshold is $117,000. There is no ceiling for applying the 2.9 percent Medicare tax.
The tax applies to net earnings from self-employment. This is the taxpayer’s gross income for the year from operating a trade or business, minus the deductions allowable to the trade or business, plus the taxpayer’s distributive share of income or loss from a partnership.
A person is self-employed if he or she carries on a trade or business as a sole proprietor or independent contractor. A general partner of a partnership that carries on a trade or business is also considered to be self-employed. Self-employment does not include the performance of services by an employee. However, an employee who also carries on a separate business part-time can be self-employed with respect to the business.
Additional Medicare Tax
Effective for 2013 and subsequent years, both employees and self-employed individuals must pay an additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax if their FICA wages or self-employment income exceeds specified thresholds $250,000 for joint filers; $125,000 for married filing separately; and $200,000 for all other taxpayers. This tax is determined on Form 8959.