If you make money working on your own, such as blogging with Google AdSense, Amazon Associates, etc., you will very likely have received a Form 1099-MISC for miscellaneous income by the beginning of February. And you will need to file and pay self-employment tax.
The first year I had to file self-employment tax, I was completely clueless as to which forms I needed to fill out. I spent hours going through the IRS website looking for any and all forms, instructions and publications that might apply to me. Now, after several awkward starts, starting and running a new business partnership for almost 3 years, and filing my own taxes for the past 4 years, I have become a little more familiar with the system and process, which has made the ordeal somewhat easier (though, unfortunately, not much pleasanter). If you decide to do your own taxes, here is a little guide of some of the basic forms and publications that might be of use to you and save you the hours and hours it took me to figure it out.
The reason I am doing this is that I have often found instructions or publications that apply to me and think will answer all my questions only to find out as I read that I need to refer to even more publications and fill out another form. As everyone’s circumstances may differ, so might the forms and publications you need.
You may not need all of the following and you may need more if, for example, you have children which I don’t (aside from Ludwig and Wolfgang but the IRS doesn’t think they qualify as dependents even though they eat home-cooked meals, wear clothes, occasionally brush their teeth, and sleep on beds,) but these should point you in the right direction and get you started.
Please Note: I am not a tax professional but merely a private individual & small business owner who has been filing my own taxes for the past few years. All information here is provided as is, for your information only, with no guarantees. If you are unsure about anything, please contact the IRS or a tax professional for assistance.
IRS Tax Forms
If you operate your business as a sole proprietor (individual), you would file Form 1040 Schedule C. If you are in partnership (with a relative, friend, etc.), you would file Form 1065. As I have 2 sources of income, one a sole proprietorship and one partnership, I will list both. I will color individual-only forms in blue and partnership forms in a lighter gray. The forms applicable to both are in normal color.
In the order in which I usually fill them out:
- Form 4562 – Depreciation and Amortization
- Individual: Form 8829 – Expenses for Business Use of Your Home
- Individual: Form 1040 (Schedule C)
- Partnership: Form 1065 – U.S. Return of Partnership Income*
- Partnership: Form 1065 (Schedule K-1) – Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc.
- Partnership: Form 1040 (Schedule E) – Supplemental Income and Loss
- Form 1040 (Schedule SE) – Self-Employment Tax
- Form 1040 – U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
* Note: If you are filing as a new partnership, you will need to apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number)
IRS Tax Publications
These are the publications that I refer to most or have needed in the past for my businesses:
- Publ 334 – Tax Guide for Small Business (For Individuals Who Use Schedule C or C-EZ)
- Publ 535 – Business Expenses
- Publ 541 – Partnerships
- Publ 583 – Starting a Business and Keeping Records
- Publ 587 – Business Use of Your Home (Including Use by Day-Care Providers)
- Publ 936 – Home Mortgage Interest Deduction
- Publ 946 – How to Depreciate Property (for Form 4562 – Depreciation and Amortization)
Other forms & publications that may apply:
- Form 3903 – Moving Expenses
- Publ 521 – Moving Expenses
- Publ 547 – Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts (Business and Nonbusiness)
- Publ 584 B – Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook
Again, these may not be all the forms you need, but they should get you started. And now that you know what you need, a few words on your options for obtaining them.
Where to Get Tax Forms, Instructions & Publications
My preferred method is to get the publications by mail because some of them are quite long and I personally find them much easier to read, as well as mark or highlight important parts, with hard copies. They can also be downloaded in PDF format and read or printed with Acrobat Reader. But due to the length of these publications, you may run out of paper or printer ink if you print them all out.
The best thing to do, I find, is to order all the ones I need by mail, which takes about 7-14 days to arrive. If you find that you need another publication when you’re reading them and there’s no time to get the new ones by mail, then you could download them on the computer.
A very convenient feature of the PDF forms is that they can be filled out on computer in Acrobat Reader or Foxit (open source PDF program). This makes the forms a lot neater in appearance as you won’t have erasure marks or have to re-fill them all out if you make a mistake.
Here are the links for the various options to get IRS forms and publications. It’s a good idea to scroll through the lists of all the various forms before ordering to make sure you get all the ones that apply to you.
- Forms and Publications By U.S. Mail
- Download Forms and Instructions
- Download Publications and Notices
If you need any other info or assistance, you can probably find it at the IRS website.