DEFINITION of 'Self-Employment Tax'

Money that a small business owner must pay to the federal government to fund Medicare and Social Security. Self-employment tax is due when an individual has net earnings of $400 or more in self-employment income over the course of the tax year. In any business, both the company and the employee are taxed to pay for these two major social welfare programs. When an individual is self-employed, she is both the company and the employee, so she pays both shares of this tax. Self-employment tax is computed and reported on IRS Form 1040, Schedule SE.

BREAKING DOWN 'Self-Employment Tax'

Individuals typically pay self-employment tax on 92.35% of their net earnings, not 100%. Self-employment tax is also a tax-deductible expense. Still, it represents a significant cost of being self-employed. The Social Security component of the self-employment tax phases out once net income reaches the low six figures, but all net income is subject to the Medicare tax. Self-employed individuals must pay self-employment tax as a condition of receiving Social Security benefits upon retirement.



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