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Learn the basics of Schedule SE for self-employed business owners.

The Basics of Schedule SE

If you are a small business owner who earns self-employment income from your business, you must pay self-employment tax. Like all taxes, there is a specific form to calculate and file self-employment tax. Do you know what form to use for self-employment tax?

You need IRS Schedule SE. Find out what you need to know about this form for self-employment tax, including what’s on it and when you need to file it.

What is Schedule SE?

Schedule SE is your IRS self-employment tax form. Use Schedule SE to figure and report the self-employment tax owed on your self-employment earnings. This form is a schedule of Form 1040, your individual tax return. The Social Security Administration uses the information on Schedule SE to determine your benefits under the social security program.

Schedule SE definition graphic

Who must file Schedule SE?

You must file Schedule SE if you earn at least $400 in self-employment income during the tax year. You also need to file the schedule if you earn at least $108.28 in church employee income.

If you didn’t earn much income or had a net loss, you don’t have to complete Schedule SE. However, you might benefit from filling out the form using an optional method. You can find more information in the Instructions for Schedule SE.

What is on Schedule SE?

Schedule SE begins with a flow chart. The chart will help you determine which section of Schedule SE you must fill out: Short Schedule SE or Long Schedule SE.

The names of the two sections speak for themselves. The Short Schedule SE is about half of a page long. The Long Schedule SE is one full page and allows you to use optional calculation methods. Only fill out the necessary section of the self-employment tax schedule.

How to file Schedule SE

You will file Schedule SE annually with your individual income tax return (Form 1040). When you file Form 1040, you will attach your completed Schedule SE to it. You also need to copy some information from Schedule SE onto your Form 1040.

Form 1040 is due on April 15, meaning your attached Schedule SE is due by then as well. You can get a six-month extension to file Form 1040, but this does not extend your time to pay taxes, including self-employment tax.

Special filing situations

You might have a special situation that requires you to complete and file Schedule SE differently than the standard methods.

If you have more than one business where you earn self-employment income, you will not fill out multiple schedules. Instead, combine the net earnings and file on Schedule SE.

If you are filing jointly, and you and your spouse both earn self-employment income, you must file separate self-employment forms. In some cases, you might be able to share a form, such as when one spouse fills out the short schedule and the other fills out the long schedule.

For more information about these special filing situations and others, see the Instructions for Schedule SE.

More information about Schedule SE

If you want more information about the Schedule SE tax form for self-employed individuals, the IRS has documents that can help you.

First of all, check out Schedule SE and its instructions. Also, you might want to look at Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business.

To learn what parts of Schedule SE you need to put on your Form 1040, use the Instructions for Form 1040.

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This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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