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Everything You Should Know If You're Considering Self Employment

Like anything in life, regular employment with a company has pluses and minuses. But maybe you've had enough of being at the whims of your company's work schedule. Maybe you enjoy the stability of having a regular paycheck, but you might be able to make more as a freelancer. If you're thinking about becoming your own boss, you'll want to be aware of how taxes work for self employed people, what the inner workings of the gig economy are and what your options are as a freelancer for things like health insurance, bank accounts and self employed retirement plans.
Self Employment Resources

What does self employed mean?

The term is a bit misleading. A self-employed person doesn't hire themselves to do jobs, they are still paid by companies to do their work. The defining feature of a self-employed person is the control they have over their own time and terms of their work. Self employed people run their own business and act as independent contractors who work with other businesses.

Self Employment Resources

Everything You Should Know If You're Newly Self-Employed

What are the different types of self employment?

There are many ways to work as a self-employed individual, or even as part of group where you're still considered self employed. In some cases the differences are really just in the name. But an independent contractors, a freelancer or a sole proprietor all fill out the same kinds of tax forms. Self-employed people can be nurses, construction workers, online teachers or tutors, delivery drivers for Instacart or Doordash, social media influencers or the owners of a business that does landscaping, baking, wedding planning … The list could go on forever.

What are the different types of self employment?

What is a gig worker?

Self employment taxes

Everyone who earns money for their work has to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. When you work for a company, and you're on its payroll, those taxes are automatically withheld from your paychecks. But when you work for yourself, these self employment taxes are called SECA tax, and you're responsible for paying them and all your taxes yourself. That includes quarterly estimated taxes.

Self- employed tax deductions

Retirement plans, mortgages and health insurance for self employed individuals

When you’re self employed, you'll need to open your own retirement plan[link to Retirement plans for self employed page] and make regular contributions on your own, without your employer setting it up for you. You'll also need to enroll in your own plan for health insurance for self employed individuals, without an employer to subsidize the cost.

How to get a mortgage for self employed individuals

It's easier for an employee of a company to qualify for a mortgage because lenders see someone who receives regular paychecks as more likely to pay back their loan. For self-employed individuals, it's a much bigger challenge to get a mortgage. To show lenders you have a steady income, you'll need to provide even more paperwork than usual when you apply for a home mortgage loan.

Know your rights

There are many rules and regulations that apply to self-employed individuals and don't apply to other types of workers, but there some rights that every independent contractor, freelancer and gig worker should keep in mind whenever they work for a new client or company. When the company that hired you for a job reports that pay to the IRS on a 1099 form, you should receive a copy so you know what they are telling the IRS. Also, make sure your contract lays out the key terms of your agreement with a company before you begin any work. This means things like deliverables, deadlines and of course pay rate.

Business bank accounts for self employment

One way to protect yourself from certain liabilities and to keep your finances more organized is by having a separate bank account for your business. By keeping your business income in a different account from your personal finances, separate from your income, you get more peace of mind and more ability to control the flow of funds in your business and personal life. That means more headspace to focus on running your business.

Benefits of a 1099 job

That was a lot to take in, but don't let it discourage you from taking up self-employed work. There are tremendous benefits if you can make it work for you. Being your own boss gives you the freedom to choose your work, set your schedule and take advantage of significant tax write offs.

Filing self-employed tax forms

Having just extolled the benefits of self employment, it's important to outline the process of doing your self employment taxes as a self-employed individual, too, which can be more involved than it is for an employee of a company.

Filing as both a 1099 and W-2 employee

Know what tax forms you should receive

You should receive Form 1099-NEC 1099-MISC on or before January 31 from anyone who paid you as a self-employed individual. You'll need these in order to file your own self employment taxes by the February deadline the following year. There's a penalty for not paying quarterly taxes or for paying them late. The amount of the fine you'll be asked to pay depends on the amount you owe and how late the payment is.

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