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Publication 225

Who Must Pay Self-Employment Tax?(p73)

You must pay SE tax and file Schedule SE (Form 1040) if your net earnings from self-employment were $400 or more.
The SE tax rules apply no matter how old you are and even if you are already receiving social security or Medicare benefits.


Generally, resident aliens must pay self-employment tax under the same rules that apply to U.S. citizens. Nonresident aliens are not subject to self-employment tax. However, residents of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or American Samoa are subject to self-employment tax, as they are considered U.S. residents for self-employment tax purposes. For more information on aliens, see Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.

Are you self-employed?(p73)

You are self-employed if you carry on a trade or business (such as running a farm) as a sole proprietor, an independent contractor, a member of a partnership, or are otherwise in business for yourself. A trade or business is generally an activity carried on for a livelihood or in good faith to make a profit.

Share farmer.(p73)

You are a self-employed farmer under an income-sharing arrangement if both the following apply.
  1. You produce a crop or raise livestock on land belonging to another person.
  2. Your share of the crop or livestock, or the proceeds from their sale, depends on the amount produced.
Your net farm profit or loss from the income-sharing arrangement is reported on Schedule F (Form 1040) and included in your self-employment earnings.
If you produce a crop or livestock on land belonging to another person and are to receive a specified rate of pay, a fixed sum of money, or a fixed quantity of the crop or livestock, and not a share of the crop or livestock or their proceeds, you may be either self-employed or an employee of the landowner. This will depend on whether the landowner has the right to direct or control your performance of services.


A share farmer produces a crop on land owned by another person on a 50-50 crop-share basis. Under the terms of their agreement, the share farmer furnishes the labor and half the cost of seed and fertilizer. The landowner furnishes the machinery and equipment used to produce and harvest the crop, and half the cost of seed and fertilizer. The share farmer is provided a house in which to live. The landowner and the share farmer decide on a cropping plan.
The share farmer is a self-employed farmer for purposes of the agreement to produce the crops, and the share farmer's part of the profit or loss from the crops is reported on Schedule F (Form 1040) and included in self-employment earnings.
The tax treatment of the landowner is discussed later under Landlord Participation in Farming.

Contract farming.(p73)

Under typical contract farming arrangements, the grower receives a fixed payment per unit of crops or finished livestock delivered to the processor or packing company. Since the grower typically furnishes labor and bears some production risk, the payments are reported on Schedule F and are therefore subject to self-employment tax.

4-H Club or FFA project.(p73)

If an individual participates in a 4-H Club or FFA project, any net income received from sales or prizes related to the project may be subject to income tax. Report the net income as "Other income" on line 21 of Form 1040. If necessary, attach a statement showing the gross income and expenses. The net income may not be subject to SE tax if the project is primarily for educational purposes and not for profit, and is completed by the individual under the rules and economic restrictions of the sponsoring 4-H or FFA organization. Such a project is generally not considered a trade or business.

Partners in a partnership.(p73)

Generally, you are self-employed if you are a member of a partnership that carries on a trade or business.
Limited partner.(p73)
If you are a limited partner, your partnership income is generally not subject to SE tax. However, guaranteed payments you receive for services you perform for the partnership are subject to SE tax and should be reported to you in box 14 of your Schedule K-1 (Form 1065).

Husband and wife partners.(p73)

If you and your spouse jointly own and operate a farm as an unincorporated business and share in the profits and losses, you are partners in a partnership whether or not you have a formal partnership agreement. You must file Form 1065, instead of Schedule F, unless you make a joint election to be treated as a qualified joint venture. Making this election will allow you to avoid the complexity of Form 1065 but still give each spouse credit for social security earnings on which retirement benefits are based.

Qualified joint venture.(p73)

If you and your spouse each materially participate as the only members of a jointly owned and operated farm, and you file a joint tax return for the tax year, you can make a joint election to be treated as a qualified joint venture instead of a partnership for the tax year. For an explanation of "material participation," see the instructions for Schedule C, line G, and the instructions for Schedule F, line E.
To make this election, you must divide all items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit attributable to the business between you and your spouse in accordance with your respective interests in the venture. Each of you must file a separate Schedule F and a separate Schedule SE. For more information, see Qualified Joint Venture in the Instructions for Schedule SE (Form 1040).

Spouse employee.(p73)

If your spouse is your employee, not your partner, you must withhold and pay social security and Medicare taxes for him or her. For more information about employment taxes, see chapter 13.
Community property.(p73)
If you are a partner and your distributive share of any income or loss from a trade or business carried on by the partnership is community property, treat your share as your self-employment earnings. Do not treat any of your share as self-employment earnings of your spouse.