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Social Security Fact Sheet
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Social Security Administration
The majority of people who pay into Social Security work for someone
else. Their employer deducts Social Security taxes from their
paycheck, matches that contribution, and sends wage reports and taxes
to the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security. But self-
employed people must fill out the forms and pay the taxes directly to
the government. This factsheet explains that process.
You are self-employed if you operate a trade, business, or
profession, either by yourself or as a partner. You report your
earnings for Social Security when you file your federal income tax
return. If your net earnings are $400 or more in a year, you must
report your earnings on schedule SE.
Paying Social Security And Medicare Taxes
The Social Security tax rate for 1995 is 15.3 percent (the same as
1994) on self-employment income up to $61,200. If your net earnings
exceed $61,200, you continue to pay the Medicare portion of the
Social Security tax, which is 2.9 percent, on the rest of your
earnings. There are two income tax deductions that reduce your tax
liability. The deductions are intended to make sure self-employed
people are treated in much the same way as employers and employees
for Social Security and income tax purposes.
First, your net earnings from self-employment are reduced by an
amount equal to half of your total self-employment tax. This is
similar to the way employees are treated under the tax laws in that
the employer's share of the Social Security tax is not considered
income to the employee.
Second, you can deduct half of your self-employment tax as a business
expense. This is similar to the deduction allowed to employers on
the Social Security taxes they pay for their employees.
If you have wages as well as self-employment earnings, the tax on
your wages is paid first. But this rule is important only if your
total earnings are more than $61,200. For example, if you have
$20,000 in wages and $30,000 in self-employment income in 1995, you
pay the appropriate Social Security taxes on both your wages and
business earnings. However, if your 1995 wages are $70,000 and you
have $10,000 in net earnings from a business, you do not pay dual
Social Security taxes on earnings above $61,200.
Your employer will withhold 7.65 percent in Social Security taxes up
to $61,200 and 1.45 percent (the Medicare portion of an employee's
tax rate) on earnings between $61,200 and $70,000. And you must pay
the 2.9 percent Medicare self-employment tax (not the full Social
Security tax) on your $10,000 in self-employment earnings.
You need earnings credits to qualify for Social Security benefits.
The number of credits you will need depends on your date of birth,
but no one needs more than 40. You can earn up to four credits per
If your net earnings are $2,520 or more, you earn four credits one
for each $630. (If your net earnings are less than $630, you still
may earn one or more credits by using the optional method described
on the back of this factsheet.) All of your earnings covered by
Social Security are used in figuring your Social Security benefit.
So, it's important that you report all of your earnings up to the
maximum as required by law.
Figuring Your Net Earnings
Net earnings for Social Security are your gross earnings from your
trade or business, minus all of your allowable business - deductions
Some income does not count for Social Security. Do not include the
following in figuring your net earnings:
Dividends from shares of stock and interest on bonds, unless you
receive them as a dealer in stocks and securities.
Interest from loans, unless your business is lending money.
Rentals from real estate, unless you are a real estate dealer or
regularly provide services mostly for the convenience of the
Income received from a limited partnership.
If your actual net earnings are less than $400, your earnings can
still count for Social Security under an optional method of
reporting. The optional method can be used if your gross earnings are
$600 or more or when your profit is less than $1,600. You can use
the optional method no more than five times. Your actual net must
have been $400 or more in at least two of the last three years, and
your net earnings must be less than two-thirds of your gross income.
Here's how it works:
If your gross income from self-employment is between $600 and $2,400,
you may report two-thirds of your gross or your actual net earnings
if $400 or more.
If your gross income is $2,400 or more and the actual net earnings
are $1,600 or less, you report either $1,600 or your - actual net.
Special Note For Farmers: If you are a farmer, you can use the
optional method every year. You do not need to have had actual net
earnings of at least $400 in any preceding year.
How To Report Earnings
You must complete the following federal tax forms by April 15
following any year in which you have net earnings of $400 or more:
Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return)
Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business)
Schedule SE (Self-Employment Tax)
These forms can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service and
most banks and post offices.
Send the tax return and schedules along with your self-employment tax
to the Internal Revenue Service.
Even if you do not owe any income tax, you must complete Form 1040
and Schedule SE to pay self-employment Social Security tax. This is
true even if you already get Social Security benefits.
If you are considered self-employed because of your work for a church
or church-controlled organization, you must report earnings of $100
or more. For more information, ask Social Security for the factsheet
If You Work For A Nonprofit - Organization (Publication No. 05-
Family Business Arrangements
Family members may operate a business together. A husband and a wife
may be partners or joint venturers. If you operate a business
together as partners, you should each report your share of the
business profits as net earnings on separate schedules, even if you
file a joint income tax return. The amount each of you should report
depends upon your agreement.
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