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Reporting Self-Employment Income

Kimberly Lankford

I just received a 1099 and taxes hadn't been withheld throughout the year). How do I report this on my taxes?



As my full-time job, I work as an employee of a sporting-goods store. But last year, I started writing a monthly column for my local newspaper. I just received a 1099 from the newspaper reporting my income for them for the year (they hadn't withheld any taxes throughout the year). How do I report this on my taxes?

You'll report this self-employed income on Schedule C when you file your 2005 taxes, or you can report it on the simpler Schedule C-EZ if you had business expenses of $5,000 or less, had no employees and aren't taking the home-office deduction.

You'll also have to submit Schedule SE, where you calculate your self-employment tax. That's the biggest downside to having self-employed income. When you're considered your own boss, you have to pay both the employee's and the employer's share of your social security and medicare taxes on the freelance income, which adds an extra 7.65% to your tax bill.

The good news, though, is that more of your expenses are tax-deductible. You'll be able to write off any business-related phone calls, mailings, equipment, travel and maybe even the cost of a computer and printer you use for your freelance work. For more information, see IRS Publication 525 Business Expenses. You might also be able to deduct your home-office expenses -- a portion of your rent or mortgage interest, homeowners insurance and utilities -- if you use an area in your home exclusively for your business. For more information, see IRS Publication 587 Business Use of Your Home.

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When you have freelance income, you also can make tax-deductible contributions to a self-employed retirement plan, such as a SEP, an individual 401(k), a SIMPLE or a Keogh. See Do-It-Yourself Retirement Plans for more information about your options.

In the future, you should file quarterly taxes in the future because the newspaper isn't withholding any taxes from your paychecks. The IRS's page on paying estimated taxes explains the rules. For more information about self-employed tax filing in general, see Freelancers, Meet Schedule C.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.




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