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I've been doing my yearly taxes with no problems for the last several years. I have a salaried job and receive a W-2 every year. Combined with fairly unexciting investments, that makes filling out the Form 1040 a pretty simple matter of copying numbers from boxes on various forms to boxes on the 1040 and doing a little arithmetic.

I got married this year. My spouse makes some money from art commissions. It's not a huge amount, and it doesn't compare to my salary, but it's not nothing. I have asked my spouse to keep track of all income from art.

I intend to file jointly, unless that turns out to not be a good idea.

This is an actual job, not hobby income.

I think this means my spouse needs to fill out a 1040 Schedule C or C-EZ, and a Schedule SE, and then I use that information to complete the 1040. We live in California, which is a community property state, but it doesn't look like that will complicate things.

Does this look right? What else do I need to know to make tax time next year just as easy as it was this year?

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    This is not that uncommon and while a bit more effort, should not be too difficult, if you are choosing to do it yourself. Personally I deal with this every year, I am self-employed, spouse is W2 (not with my company) and I do joint file each year, I do my portion with the Schedule C and whatnot, do hers with the W2, just need to be VERY CAREFUL with what you report where, that makes a difference and matters, but otherwise not much to it. And my state is same as yours, no issues there either, pretty much works the same with minor differences to the federal portion. That's all. – GµårÐïåñ May 7 '18 at 23:06
  • That's what we have been doing. C or C-EZ is simply an input to the 1040. I would strongly suggest using a tax program rather than manual if you're on unfamiliar territory. – Loren Pechtel May 8 '18 at 3:26
  • If your spouse works from home, you will also want to look at Form 8829, which allows you to deduct home office expenses. – jamesqf May 8 '18 at 4:05
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    is the freelance work new this year? If not can't you use the previous years tax form as a guide? – mhoran_psprep May 8 '18 at 10:15
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    @GµårÐïåñ Please do not answer questions in the comments. – Ben Miller May 8 '18 at 12:35
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That pretty much looks right. For the most part, filing jointly works the same as individually, but you just put both your incomes onto the same form. If your new spouse (Congratulations!) used Schedule C or C-EZ and SE to report income in the past for this, you would continue to do so. You just need to include both your incomes when doing your box-copying, and perhaps a little more arithmetic.

If this business started this year, then there's really nothing special about filing jointly about it in that case either. Filing taxes for a small business may be a little more complicated than for a "typical" employee, but it sounds like this business isn't large enough to make things really complex. Be sure to look through the IRS pages on being Self Employed, find the right boxes on the forms to put all your income and deductions, and you should be all set.

One of the main differences with self-employment income is that there isn't anybody automatically withholding taxes for you throughout the year. You need to either pay quarterly estimated taxes yourself, or adjust the withholdings on your traditional income to withhold more throughout the year to make up for the additional income that your "main" employer doesn't know about. Regardless of which of you pays the taxes throughout the year, it will end up on your joint return in the same place as long as you're filing jointly.

  • No previous years' tax forms for my spouse. This is new for both of us. Can you speak to the necessity (or not) of paying quarterly estimated taxes? That's not something I've ever had to deal with before, but maybe it's something I can make up for by adjusting my withholdings instead? – Dranon May 8 '18 at 14:53
  • @Dranon Ah, your question came across as "what's different now that we're getting married", but you're actually asking "What do I need to know about taxes if I start a small self-employed business?" I suspect there are other questions somewhere around here already addressing this, but yes, adjusting your withholdings should work fine and may be easier than making estimated payments for a business that's smaller than your "regular" W-2 income. – Peter Cooper Jr. May 8 '18 at 15:25
  • Sorry, I'm still in the don't know what I don't know stage of things, and my primary question was, as you said, "what's different now?". Your last little bit in the comment is all the extra I wanted to know in addition to the rest of your answer. Thank you. (I'll wait another little bit to see if anyone else answers before hitting the check mark.) – Dranon May 8 '18 at 18:09
  • @Dranon I've added some more details and links on estimated taxes and withholdings to my answer. Glad I could help! – Peter Cooper Jr. May 8 '18 at 18:41
  • A quick follow up. I started doing taxes over the weekend so that I'd have the basic skeleton done while waiting for forms from banks. The rearranged 1040 threw me more than filling out the schedules C-EZ and SE. Thank you again. – Dranon Jan 21 at 16:51

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