What Independent Contractors Need to Know about Paying Taxes

Paying taxes can be an overwhelming process if you work for yourself.

In addition to paying federal and state income taxes, independent contractors, the self-employed, freelancers, and anyone who receives a 1099 are also responsible for paying self-employment income taxes, i.e, Social Security and Medicare taxes. Employers take these taxes out of employee earnings as part of payroll, but since you are self-employed, you’ll need to take care of these taxes.

Social Security taxes

Social Security taxes are 6.2% for both the employer and the employee, but since self-employed people are actually both, their Social Security tax rate is effectively 12.4%. So if you make $40,000, you’ll pay $4,960 in Social Security taxes. Social Security taxes apply only to the first $127,200 of income, so you don’t have to pay these taxes on any money earned above that level. For example, if you make $140,000 in a year, you pay only 12.4% of $127,200 ($15,772.80), with the remaining $12,800 untaxed by Social Security.

Medicare Taxes

Self-employed individuals also have to pay the Medicare tax rate for both employer and employee. Unlike Social Security, there is no income cap to Medicare taxes, so you’ll pay on all money you make, no matter how much it is.

Business Expenses

Make sure to keep track of your business expenses, since these can be deducted from your income.

Business expenses are directly tied to the operation of your business. They can include supplies, travel, office space, and other expenses.

In addition to business expenses, self-employed people can also receive deductions for things like health insurance, retirement accounts, and professional services such as accountants and lawyers.

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