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Paying Self-Employment Tax

If you’re self-employed, you obtain Social Security and Medicare coverage through the payment of self-employment tax. These are figured on Schedule SE.


If your net earnings from self-employment equal $400 or more, you must do both of these:

  • File Schedule SE
  • Pay self-employment tax


This is true regardless of your age, and even if you’re receiving Social Security benefits.


For 2017, the self-employment tax rate is normally 15.3%. The rate is made up of both of these:

  • 12.4% Social Security tax
  • 2.9% Medicare tax


For 2017, the maximum amount subject to Social Security tax is $118,500. However, all self-employment income in excess of $400 is subject to Medicare tax.


To figure net earnings from self-employment, multiply your net business profit by 92.35%. You use this percentage since an employee is only required to pay one of these:

  • 1/2 of Social Security and Medicare taxes
  • 7.65% of wage income


A self-employed individual must pay “both halves,” or 15.3%. So, the law equalizes the tax burden by reducing the income subject to tax by 7.65%. Here’s the formula:


100% – 7.65% = 92.35%


You can deduct the employer portion of your self-employment tax as an adjustment to income on Form 1040. The amount you can deduct is usually 1/2 of the employer portion. This decreases your taxable income and, as a result, your federal income tax.

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