Schedule C: Guide for Small Businesses (Sole Proprietorship)

Download Schedule C

Schedule C is attached to Form 1040, a form you will use to inform the IRS about the profit and loss of your small business the previous year. The IRS will then use this information to calculate your taxable profit.

Basics of the Schedule C Form

Different categories of business report their income through Schedule C as follows:

  • Sole Proprietor: If you are the sole owner of your business and not registered in another state as an (link: text: LLC corporation), you will report your income through Schedule C.
  • Single-Member LLC: You will fill out the Schedule C form if you are a (link: text: single-member LLC) and have not opted to pay your tax as an S corporation or corporation.
  • Qualified Joint Venture: If you and your spouse have a partnership described as a qualified joint venture, you will file a Schedule C, but you need to use two forms.

What Is the Minimum Income to File Schedule C?

  • The minimum income to file Schedule C varies depending on several factors, including your filing status and age.
  • Generally, if you have at least $400 in net earnings from self-employment, you must file Schedule C.
  • Net earnings from self-employment include income from any trade or business you operate as a sole proprietor or as an independent contractor.
  • If you're under 65 years old and single, you must file a tax return if your gross income is at least $12,550 in 2021. For married couples filing jointly, the threshold is $25,100.
  • These thresholds are subject to change based on inflation and other factors, so it's always a good idea to consult with a tax professional to determine your filing requirements.

Schedule C Due Dates

  • **April 15: **This is typically the deadline for filing your federal income tax return, which includes Schedule C. However, if April 15 falls on a weekend or holiday, the due date is usually the next business day.
  • **June 15: **If you are self-employed and make estimated tax payments, your second quarter estimated tax payment is due on this date.
  • September 15: Your third quarter estimated tax payment is due on this date if you make estimated tax payments.
  • October 15: If you filed for an extension to submit your income tax return, including Schedule C, the deadline is typically October 15. However, keep in mind that this is only an extension to file your return, not an extension to pay any taxes owed.
Tax Year Schedule C Due Date
2020 July 15, 2021
2021 April 18, 2022
2022 April 18, 2023

How to File Your Schedule C Form

Now that you know what Schedule C is, here's a step-by-step guide to filing the form:

Step 1: Collect Your Data

Gather detailed information of the income earned through your business during the financial year from 1st January to 31st December. Prepare a (link: text: profit and loss statement) and include details like the cost of goods sold and the value of your inventory.

You should also make a list of total business expenses for the year. The costs would typically include office expenses, stationery, wages, miscellaneous expenses, and petty cash. It's worth noting that entertainment expenses are not deductible anymore.

Step 2: Gross Profit and Income Calculation

Next, you need to compute your business's income and gross profit. The variables include:

  • Net Receipts (Gross receipts minus returns and allowances)
  • Gross Profit (Net receipts minus cost of goods sold)
  • Gross Income (Income from other sources like tax credits + gross profit)

Step 3: Provide Your Business Expenses

Your business expenses should include depreciation, employee benefits, and insurance (but not health insurance). You can also add interest on mortgages and other business-related debts, along with legal and professional fees if any.

Your business expenses list can also include the cost of leasing business equipment, vehicles, office expenses, profit sharing, and pension payouts. You can include “other” expenses in line 27 like telephone bills, internet, and software.

Step 4: Additional Information

Here, you provide additional information like details of your home (if you work from there) and expenses related to your vehicle. You will also need to provide other miscellaneous details, which your tax expert can guide you on.

Step 5: Calculating Net Income

This final step involves (link: text: calculating your net income) and/or providing details of any losses. Once done, you can now add your Schedule C form to your tax return.

Additional Requirements for Schedule C Filers:

After completing Schedule C, remember to:

  1. Report net income on Form 1040, Schedule 1, Line 3.
  2. Calculate the Qualified Business Income Deduction on Form 8995 or Form 8995-A and report it on Form 1040, Line 13. Most Schedule C businesses with positive net income qualify.
  3. Complete Schedule SE if net income exceeds $400 and report self-employment tax on Form 1040, Line 23.

New Guidelines for 2022 Tax Year

There are a few new guidelines for the 2022 tax year, which include the following:

  • **Standard mileage rate: **The business standard mileage rate from Jan. 1, 2022, to June 30, 2022, is 58.5 cents per mile. The business standard mileage rate from July 1, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2022, is 62.5 cents per mile. Check out this page from the IRS website for more information.
  • New Form 7205, Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction. This new form and its separate instructions are used to claim the (link: text: IRC 179D deduction) for qualifying energy-efficient commercial building expenses.

Important Things You Should Know While Filling the Form

  • Include as many legitimate business expenses to lower your tax bill for your Schedule C taxes.
  • Keep the information as accurate as you can. If the IRS finds particular information incorrect or falsified, there is a minimum penalty per return of $1,000.00.
  • Be aware of changes to Schedule C requirements – these get updated every year.
  • Use a (link: text: reliable bookkeeping service) to prepare a comprehensive profit and loss statement for your tax preparer's accurate filing.

Common Misconceptions About Schedule C Taxes

Only One Schedule C Is Required

Many scenarios call for completing more than one Schedule C. Check the requirements with your auditor for more information.

I Only Have to File After Earning a Particular Amount

Whether you have a single-member LLC or a (link: text: sole proprietorship), you must file your Schedule C. All profits and losses must be reported.

Losses From Income Qualifies a Business as a Hobby

Once you have officially declared yourself a business to make a (link: text: profit), the IRS will consider that. They will not be concerned whether or not you made a profit – you need to report your profits and losses as long as you are a registered business.

Providing Personal Expenses for Home-Based Offices

Although you can deduct certain expenses when you work from a home office, there are some pretty strict rules about this scenario. Charging personal expenses randomly because a business is based out of a residence can lead to rejection and heavy penalties.


At first glance, the Schedule C form can seem overwhelming. But with the relevant information at hand, accurate and (link: text: up-to-date financial records), and a competent bookkeeping service like Fincent, completing it is a straightforward process.


Can multiple Schedule C be included in a tax return?

Yes, you can include multiple Schedule Cs if you have more than one business.

Do statutory employees need to report on Schedule C?

No, statutory employees report their income on Form W-2 and do not file Schedule C. Instead, their income and expenses are reported on Form 1040, Line 1, as wages or salaries, and they may be eligible to claim certain (link: text: deductions on Schedule A).

What is Schedule C-EZ?

Schedule C-EZ is a simplified version of Schedule C used for small business owners with less than $5,000 in expenses.

Is 1099-NEC the same as Schedule C?

No, a 1099-NEC reports income earned as an independent contractor, while Schedule C is used to report business income and expenses.

Is Schedule C equivalent to W-2?

No, Schedule C is used to report business income and expenses, while W-2 reports an employee's wages and taxes withheld.

Should I report my 1099-NEC income on Schedule C?

Yes, 1099-NEC income is reported on Schedule C as part of your business income.

Do gig workers and freelancers report their earnings on Schedule C?

Yes, gig workers and freelancers who are self-employed report their earnings on Schedule C.

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