Did the Self-Employment Tax Go Up? Understanding the Latest Changes

Hey there, folks! Did you hear the news? The self-employment tax has gone up, and it’s causing quite a stir among business owners and freelancers alike. This change in tax legislation could mean different things for different people, and depending on your income bracket, it could result in a significant increase in the amount of taxes you pay.

If you’re one of the millions of people who have opted for self-employment, this news is definitely something to pay attention to. While taxes are never an enjoyable topic, they’re a necessary part of doing business. However, with the self-employment tax now on the rise, it’s understandable to have some concerns about how that will impact your bottom line.

But don’t worry, we’re here to break down what exactly this change means for you, and how you can prepare to weather the storm. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out on your own, understanding how the self-employment tax works is crucial for your financial success. So let’s dive in and see how this change is going to affect you and your wallet.

Self-Employment Tax Rates

As a self-employed individual, you are responsible for paying self-employment tax, which is a combination of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Self-employment tax rates are based on your net earnings from self-employment, and the rates can change from year to year. In 2021, the self-employment tax rate is 15.3%, which is broken down into 12.4% for Social Security tax and 2.9% for Medicare tax.

It’s important to note that self-employment tax is in addition to any income tax you may owe. However, you may be able to deduct half of your self-employment tax on your income tax return.

  • The self-employment tax rate is higher than the tax rate for traditional employees, who only pay half of the Social Security and Medicare taxes while their employer pays the other half.
  • If you earn more than $400 in self-employment income during the year, you are required to pay self-employment tax.
  • Self-employment tax is calculated on your net earnings, which is your gross income minus any allowable deductions.

Here is an example of how self-employment tax is calculated:

Income Self-Employment Tax
$50,000 $7,650
$100,000 $15,300
$150,000 $22,950

If you are self-employed, it’s important to stay up-to-date on self-employment tax rates to ensure you are paying the correct amount. The IRS provides resources and guidance on their website to help you understand your tax obligations as a self-employed individual.

Social Security and Medicare Taxes

Self-employed individuals are required to pay both Social Security and Medicare taxes. These taxes fund important programs that benefit millions of Americans.

For the year 2021, the Social Security tax rate for self-employed individuals is 12.4% on the first $142,800 of net earnings. This is an increase from the 2020 rate of 12.2%. However, self-employed individuals are allowed to deduct half of their Social Security tax from their gross income, effectively reducing the tax rate to 6.2%.

The Medicare tax rate for self-employed individuals is 2.9% on all net earnings. There is no cap on the amount of earnings subject to this tax. However, individuals with incomes above certain levels may be subject to an additional Medicare tax. For example, in 2021, individuals with incomes above $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly) are subject to an additional 0.9% Medicare tax.

Effects on Self-Employment Income

  • Self-employed individuals must pay both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes, which results in a higher tax burden compared to traditional employees.
  • However, self-employed individuals may be able to deduct a portion of their self-employment taxes from their income taxes, which can partially offset the higher tax burden.
  • It is important for self-employed individuals to accurately track their income and expenses in order to maximize deductions and minimize their tax liability.

Planning and Budgeting

Self-employed individuals should plan and budget for their tax payments throughout the year in order to avoid a large tax bill at the end of the year. This can be done by setting aside a percentage of each payment received or by making estimated tax payments throughout the year.

Since tax laws and rates may change from year to year, self-employed individuals should stay informed of any changes and seek the advice of a tax professional if necessary.


Pros Cons
Self-employed individuals have the ability to deduct a portion of their self-employment taxes from their income taxes. Self-employed individuals are responsible for paying both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes, resulting in a higher tax burden.
Self-employment provides flexibility and the ability to pursue individual passions and interests. Self-employed individuals may have fluctuating income, which can make budgeting and planning for taxes more difficult.

Self-employment can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice for many individuals. It is important to understand the tax implications of self-employment and to plan accordingly in order to maximize tax savings and minimize tax liabilities.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, also known as TCJA or the Trump Tax Cuts, brought several changes to the tax system in the United States. One of the changes that has impacted self-employed individuals is the change in the tax rates.

Did the self-employment tax go up?

  • Yes, the TCJA did not change the self-employment tax rate of 15.3 percent, which is the combined rate for Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • However, the TCJA reduced the tax rates for other types of taxes, which may have given some people the impression that the self-employment tax also decreased.
  • Additionally, the TCJA raised the income thresholds for Social Security taxes, which means that the maximum amount of income subject to Social Security taxes is higher in 2021 than it was in previous years.

Other changes brought by the TCJA for self-employed individuals

Aside from the tax rates, the TCJA also brought other changes that may impact self-employed individuals, including:

  • Changes to the standard deduction: Under the TCJA, the standard deduction was increased, which may make it more beneficial for self-employed individuals to take the standard deduction rather than itemizing their deductions.
  • Qualified Business Income Deduction: The TCJA introduced the Qualified Business Income deduction, which allows self-employed individuals to deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified business income from their taxable income.
  • Changes to depreciation rules: The TCJA increased the amount of depreciation that self-employed individuals can take on certain types of assets, which may be beneficial for those who need to invest in equipment or other business assets.


While the self-employment tax rate did not change under the TCJA, the changes brought by the new law may have different impacts for self-employed individuals. It is important to consult with a tax professional to understand how the new tax laws may affect your specific situation.

Year Maximum Amount of Income Subject to Social Security Taxes
2021 $142,800
2020 $137,700
2019 $132,900

Note: Figures are for illustrative purposes only and may be subject to change. Please consult with a tax professional for the most up-to-date information.

Self-Employment Tax Deductions

As a self-employed individual, you’re responsible for paying self-employment tax – which is essentially Social Security and Medicare taxes for those who work for themselves. However, the good news is that you may be able to deduct a portion of that tax on your tax return.

  • You can deduct half of the self-employment tax you paid as an adjustment to income on your tax return. This means you can reduce your taxable income by half of the self-employment tax you paid.
  • You can deduct the cost of health insurance you paid for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents as long as you weren’t eligible to participate in a health plan provided by an employer of either yourself or your spouse.
  • You can also deduct contributions you made to a traditional IRA or SEP-IRA (Simplified Employee Pension) plan. These contributions are deducted from your self-employment income, which can lead to significant tax savings.

However, it’s important to note that the deduction for self-employment tax and health insurance premiums is only available for federal income tax purposes and not for the self-employment tax itself.

Another key consideration is that not all deductions for self-employment tax are created equal. For example, if you’re deducting both the employer and employee portions of your self-employment tax, you may not actually save as much on taxes as you think due to the way self-employment tax is calculated. It’s always a good idea to consult a tax professional to determine which deductions are most advantageous for your specific situation.

Self-Employment Tax Deduction Limits

It’s important to note that there are limits on how much you can deduct for self-employment tax and health insurance premiums. The self-employment tax deduction is limited to 50% of your self-employment tax liability, while the health insurance deduction is limited to the amount of your net self-employment income.

Additionally, if you have both self-employment income and wage income, you’ll need to calculate the self-employment tax deduction separately for each source of income. The self-employment tax deduction cannot exceed your total self-employment tax liability.

Travel and Entertainment Deductions

One area where self-employed individuals may be able to find additional tax savings is through travel and entertainment deductions. As long as these expenses are ordinary and necessary for your business, you may be able to deduct them on your tax return.

However, it’s important to keep thorough records of your expenses and to make sure they meet the IRS’s guidelines for deductibility. For example, you’ll generally need to document the date, place, amount, and business purpose of the expense. It’s always a good idea to consult a tax professional to ensure you’re maximizing your deductions while staying in compliance with IRS rules and regulations.

Expense Deductible Amount
Travel expenses (including airfare, lodging, and meals) Deductible if ordinary and necessary for business
Entertainment expenses (including meals and tickets to sporting events or shows) Deductible if directly related to the active conduct of business

Overall, self-employment tax deductions can be a valuable tool for reducing your tax liability as a self-employed individual. However, it’s important to understand the rules and limits surrounding these deductions and to keep thorough records of your expenses to avoid any potential issues with the IRS.

Self-Employment Tax Forms

As a self-employed individual, you are required by law to pay self-employment tax. This tax goes towards funding Social Security and Medicare, and is calculated as a percentage of your net earnings from self-employment. The current self-employment tax rate is 15.3%, with 12.4% going towards Social Security and 2.9% going towards Medicare.

One of the main forms you will need to know about when it comes to self-employment tax is the Schedule SE (Form 1040). This form is used to calculate and report your self-employment tax liability. It takes into account your net earnings as well as any deductions or credits you may be eligible for.

In addition to the Schedule SE, there are a few other forms you may need to be familiar with as a self-employed individual. These include:

  • Schedule C (Form 1040) – This form is used to report your income and expenses from your self-employed business. It is important to keep accurate records of all income and expenses so that you can fill out this form correctly.
  • Form 1099-MISC – If you receive payments from clients or customers for your self-employed work, they may be required to provide you with a Form 1099-MISC. This form shows the total amount of payments they made to you during the year.
  • Form 8829 – This form is used to claim home office deductions if you work from home as a self-employed individual. To be eligible for these deductions, you must use a portion of your home exclusively for business purposes.

It is important to note that if you are a sole proprietor or single-member LLC, you will report your self-employment income and expenses on your personal tax return (Form 1040). However, if you have formed a partnership, S corporation, or C corporation, you will need to file a separate tax return for your business entity.

Form Name Purpose
Schedule SE (Form 1040) Calculates and reports self-employment tax liability
Schedule C (Form 1040) Reports income and expenses from self-employed business
Form 1099-MISC Shows total amount of payments received from clients/customers
Form 8829 Used to claim home office deductions for self-employed individuals

Overall, understanding the various self-employment tax forms and how to properly fill them out is crucial for any self-employed individual. Neglecting to pay self-employment tax or reporting incorrectly can lead to penalties and fines, so it is important to stay on top of your tax responsibilities as a self-employed person.

Self-Employment Tax Penalties

If you are self-employed, you are responsible for paying self-employment taxes, which includes both the employer and employee portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes. In 2021, the self-employment tax rate is 15.3% on the first $142,800 of your net earnings, which includes income you make from your self-employed business. However, if you fail to pay your self-employment taxes, you may face penalties and interest charges from the IRS.

  • Failure-to-pay penalty: If you don’t pay your self-employment taxes by the due date (typically April 15th), you may be subject to a penalty of 0.5% of the unpaid tax amount for each month your payment is late, up to a maximum of 25% of the unpaid tax.
  • Underpayment penalty: If you underpay your self-employment taxes, you may face an underpayment penalty. This penalty is based on the amount of tax you owe and the number of days that your payment is late. The penalty rate is determined by the IRS and can change quarterly.
  • Negligence penalty: If the IRS determines that you were negligent or careless in your reporting of self-employment taxes, you may be subject to this penalty. The negligence penalty is typically 20% of the underpaid tax amount.

It’s important to note that if you are unable to pay the full amount of your self-employment taxes by the due date, you can still avoid some penalties by filing your tax return and paying as much as you can. Additionally, if you have a reasonable cause for not paying your taxes on time, such as a medical emergency or natural disaster, you may be able to request penalty relief from the IRS.

If you need help determining your self-employment tax obligations or have received notice of penalties from the IRS, it’s important to seek the advice of a qualified tax professional.


Self-employment tax penalties can be costly and can quickly add up if left unpaid. As a self-employed individual, it’s important to stay on top of your tax obligations and pay your taxes on time to avoid penalties. By being proactive and seeking the advice of a tax professional, you can ensure that you are in compliance with the law and avoid unnecessary penalties and interest charges.

State Self-Employment Taxes

While the federal self-employment tax rate has remained the same, the same cannot be said for state self-employment taxes. In fact, 14 states have raised their state self-employment tax rates since 2018.

  • California now has a self-employment tax rate of 15.3%, up from 13.3% in 2018.
  • Connecticut has increased its self-employment tax rate from 10.99% to 11.99%.
  • Iowa has raised its self-employment tax rate from 8.53% to 8.93%.

These increases may seem small, but they can add up quickly for self-employed individuals who work in multiple states. It’s important to stay up-to-date on state tax laws to properly budget for your tax obligations.

In addition to state self-employment tax rates, some states may also have other self-employment taxes, such as a state disability insurance tax or a state unemployment insurance tax. These taxes may have different rates and income limits than the federal self-employment tax, so it’s essential to research your state’s specific requirements.

Below is a table showing the current self-employment tax rates for all 50 states and the District of Columbia:

State Self-Employment Tax Rate
Alabama 4.00%
Alaska No state-level taxes
Arizona 4.54%
Arkansas 3.78%
California 15.3%
Colorado No state-level taxes
Connecticut 11.99%
Delaware No state-level taxes
District of Columbia 10.72%
Florida No state-level taxes
Georgia 2.61%
Hawaii 4.40%
Idaho 3.65%
Illinois 4.95%
Indiana 3.30%
Iowa 8.93%
Kansas 4.00%
Kentucky 4.00%
Louisiana 4.00%
Maine 10.15%
Maryland 9.03%
Massachusetts 5.05%
Michigan 4.25%
Minnesota 7.05%
Mississippi 3.57%
Missouri 4.44%
Montana 6.90%
Nebraska 6.18%
Nevada No state-level taxes
New Hampshire 5.00%
New Jersey 10.75%
New Mexico 4.00%
New York 9.62%
North Carolina 2.24%
North Dakota 2.90%
Ohio 4.35%
Oklahoma 4.00%
Oregon 9.00%
Pennsylvania 3.07%
Rhode Island 9.90%
South Carolina 3.00%
South Dakota No state-level taxes
Tennessee No state-level taxes
Texas No state-level taxes
Utah 4.83%
Vermont 8.50%
Virginia 5.75%
Washington No state-level taxes
West Virginia 6.50%
Wisconsin 7.65%
Wyoming No state-level taxes

It’s important to note that although certain states do not impose state-level self-employment taxes, those states may have higher income tax rates or other fees that could affect your overall tax liability.

Consult with a tax professional or do your own research to fully understand your tax obligations as a self-employed individual in your state. By staying on top of state tax laws, you can avoid any surprises come tax season.

FAQs: Did the Self-Employment Tax Go Up?

Q: Did the self-employment tax increase in 2021?
A: Yes, the self-employment tax increased in 2021. The tax rate for self-employment income is 15.3%, which includes both the Social Security tax and Medicare tax.

Q: What is the new self-employment tax rate for 2021?
A: The rate for the self-employment tax in 2021 is 15.3%. The Social Security tax is 12.4% of net income up to a certain limit, while the Medicare tax is 2.9% of net income.

Q: How does the self-employment tax compare to the payroll tax?
A: The self-employment tax is essentially the same as the payroll tax paid by employees. However, instead of the employer paying a portion, the self-employed individual pays both the employee and employer portion of the tax.

Q: What income is subject to self-employment tax?
A: Self-employment tax is applied to any income earned through self-employment or as an independent contractor. This includes income from freelance work, consulting, and any other income that is not subject to regular payroll taxes.

Q: Can I deduct self-employment tax on my taxes?
A: Yes, you can deduct the employer portion of the self-employment tax as a business expense on your taxes. However, you cannot deduct the employee portion.

Q: Are there any exemptions or credits available for self-employment tax?
A: There are no exemptions or credits available specifically for self-employment tax. However, self-employed individuals may be eligible for other tax credits and deductions related to their business expenses.

Closing: Thanks for Reading!

Now that you have a better understanding of the self-employment tax and how it has changed for 2021, you can adjust your tax planning accordingly. Remember to keep track of all your income and expenses to ensure accurate reporting on your taxes. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon for more helpful articles!