How to Reduce Self Employment Taxes

by Michelle Powell-Smith ; Updated July 27, 2017

Self-employment taxes are often a worry for those who run their own small businesses, freelance or work as contract labor. There are legal and ethical ways to keep your self-employment tax burden under control. Some tips to cut your tax burden may be specific to your self-employment taxes, while others may cut down on your overall tax debt. Be sure to know the facts about your Schedule C forms and filing before April 15th rolls around.

Step 1

Keep accurate records. This is one of the most important ways to reduce self-employment taxes. You will need all of your receipts and books in order to claim these deductions. You can deduct all business expenses, including mileage, travel, materials and supplies from your income. Be sure that you are not listing business expenses as income.

Step 2

Take advantage of the self-employment deduction. You can claim 50% of your self-employment tax as a federal income tax deduction. While this does not actually reduce your self-employment taxes, it does reduce your overall tax burden.

Step 3

Claim your health insurance deduction. If you purchase health insurance independently for yourself, your spouse or your dependents, you can deduct these costs on your federal income taxes. This deduction should not require that you itemize your federal taxes, but it can help to reduce your overall federal income tax burden.

Step 4

Consider incorporating instead of working as a sole proprietorship to change the way your income is reported. Creating an S-corporation enables you to pay yourself a reasonable market salary and pay out the remaining amount you earn as an unearned dividend, thereby reducing your taxable income. Work with an experienced accountant or tax professional if you choose to incorporate your business as an S-corporation.

Step 5

File your estimated taxes and pay quarterly. This can help you to avoid penalties and late payment fees on your self-employment taxes. If you prefer to handle your taxes and accounting on your own, any of the tax software or online tax preparation clients can assist you in this process (see Resources).

Tips

  • Consult an accountant for assistance on reducing your self-employment taxes.

Warnings

  • Avoid the home office deduction unless you are sure that you truly meet the criteria.

References

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.