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Example of Self Employed Tax Return

A self-employed tax return refers to the documentation and reporting of income, deductions, and other financial information by individuals who work for themselves and are not classified as employees of a company or organization. This type of tax return is specifically designed for individuals engaged in freelance work, independent contracting, sole proprietorships, partnerships, and other forms of self-employment.


Self-employment brings forth various financial responsibilities, including the obligation to file an annual tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States. Unlike employees who receive a Form W-2 from their employers, self-employed individuals must use a different form known as Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, to report their income and expenses. This form is attached to the individual’s personal tax return, Form 1040.

Income Reporting:

When completing a self-employed tax return, the individual must accurately report all income earned from their business activities. This includes revenue from sales or services provided, as well as any additional sources of income related to the business, such as interest, dividends, or rental income. All income received must be included, regardless of whether or not it has been deposited into their business bank account.

Expense Deductions:

Self-employed individuals are entitled to deduct legitimate business expenses from their total income to determine their taxable income. However, these expenses must be necessary and ordinary expenses incurred while conducting business operations. Examples of eligible deductions may include costs related to professional services, office supplies, business travel, advertising, insurance, and utilities. It is important to maintain organized records and retain supporting documentation to substantiate these deductions in case of an audit by the IRS.

Self-Employment Taxes:

In addition to income tax, self-employed individuals are required to pay self-employment taxes, which consist of both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes. As self-employed individuals do not have an employer withholding these taxes from their pay, they must calculate and pay these taxes themselves when filing their tax return. The self-employment tax can be calculated using Schedule SE, which is also attached to Form 1040.

Estimated Quarterly Payments:

Unlike traditional employees who have income taxes withheld from their paychecks, self-employed individuals typically do not have taxes withheld throughout the year. Instead, they are responsible for making estimated quarterly tax payments using Form 1040-ES. These payments help ensure that the individual meets their tax obligations and avoids underpayment penalties at the end of the year. Failure to make estimated payments may result in interest and penalties being assessed by the IRS.

Record-Keeping Requirements:

Given the complexity of self-employment taxation, proper record keeping is crucial. Self-employed individuals should maintain accurate and detailed records of all income received and expenses incurred. This includes keeping copies of invoices, receipts, bank statements, and any other relevant financial documents. These records serve as evidence to support the information provided on the self-employed tax return and can be crucial in case of an audit or any inquiries from the IRS.


A self-employed tax return is the means by which self-employed individuals report and fulfill their tax obligations. Meeting these obligations requires accurate income reporting, careful deduction calculation, payment of self-employment taxes, and adhering to record-keeping requirements. By understanding the requirements and following proper tax procedures, self-employed individuals can fulfill their tax responsibilities while minimizing the chances of errors, penalties, or audits by the IRS.