As a makeup artist, you’re likely drawn to creative, beautiful pursuits — words you may not associate with doing your taxes.
Wrangling IRS paperwork may not be artistic work. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a slog!
Here’s everything you need to know about freelance makeup artist taxes, so you can file with ease and get the write-offs you deserve.
What taxes do freelance makeup artists pay?
Freelance makeup artists have to pay two kinds of taxes:
- Standard income tax (federal and state): Everyone pays income taxes, whether they’re self-employed or working a traditional 9-to-5. How much you pay depends on your income bracket
- Self-employment tax: The IRS considers you a business owner, which means you’re on the hook for extra taxes
Normally, an employer pays for their employee’s Social Security and Medicare Taxes by contributing 7.65% of their paycheck. The employee pays another 7.65%.
As an independent contractor, you are your employer, so you pay that 7.65% twice. That makes your total self-employment tax rate 15.3% (7.65 x 2). To learn more, check out our beginner’s guide to self-employment tax.
How you’re taxed if you work in-house and freelance
As a makeup artist, you’ll pay income taxes on all your earnings, both W-2 and freelance. But you’ll only pay that extra 7.65% on your freelance earnings.
Let’s say you work both as an employee and as a freelancer. (Maybe you’re an in-house makeup artist at Sephora, and you also have a side hustle as a wedding makeup artist.)
For your Sephora earnings, your Social Security and Medicare taxes are automatically withheld from your paycheck. So you'd only pay the higher 15.3% rate on your side hustle earnings, which have had nothing withheld.
How you’re taxed if you do multiple freelance jobs
Say you work multiple types of freelance gigs — for example, as both a makeup artist and an Uber driver.
In that case, you’d pay self-employment tax on your earnings from both jobs. You’ll just have to fill out a separate Schedule C for each job. (More on that later!)
If all this sounds complicated at first blush (makeup pun fully intended), don’t fret. We’ll walk you through the tax forms you’ll need next.
Or you can plug your info into Keeper and instantly find out what to pay — not to mention what you can write off! Don’t let taxes harsh your creative mellow. Just go with Keeper.
Income-reporting tax forms you’ll receive
Working as a freelance makeup artist, you can definitely expect some 1099 forms in the mail at tax time. These will:
- Show you how much you earned
- Help you report your income when you file
Interestingly, you don’t need them to file. That’s right: a lost 1099 shouldn’t stop you from getting your taxes done on time. And on the flip side, you’re still supposed to file taxes if you don’t get a 1099 form.
Just know this: every 1099 you receive is also sent to the IRS. So they’ll expect you to pay taxes on the amount they report.
Now, the type of form you’ll get depends on how you got paid. Here’s a breakdown of the two 1099 forms you might encounter in your colorful adventures as a freelance makeup artist. 🌈
1099-K for Venmo, PayPal, and other payment apps
This is for makeup artists who get paid through:
If that’s you, you might receive a 1099-K form come tax season. As long as you earned $600 or more annually through one of these services, they’re required to send you one.
If you give your clients the option to pay through multiple services, you might end up with a few 1099-Ks!
To streamline things, ask all your clients to use the same payment service if possible. That way, all your income as a freelance makeup artist will come through one channel, and you’ll only receive one 1099-K.
How (and when) to get your 1099-Ks
Payment services often let you download your 1099-K online, in which case they’ll be available by January 31st. However, some services still send them through snail mail.
These should be postmarked by January 31st, which means they’ll show up in your mailbox in February or March.
Pro tip: If your payment service allows for accompanying memos or references, have all your clients include the same emoji or note with their payments, like “💋MAKEUP.”
This should streamline your recordkeeping by making professional payments easier to double-check.
What to do if you’re missing a 1099-K
If spring is almost over and you still haven’t gotten your 1099-K, you can either:
- Request it from the relevant company
- Go ahead and report your income without the form
What your 1099-Ks shouldn’t include
Also, it might sound obvious, but personal app payments don’t count as taxable income!
If you use Venmo as a freelancer and with your friends, don‘t include their happy hour reimbursements (“🍹🤪🍸”) when reporting your earnings.
1099-NEC for direct payments
Some clients might pay you with cash, check, or via direct deposit. If they spend more than $600 on your services in a given year, they’re supposed to send a 1099-NEC for your records. (But of course, they may not actually do so.)
What to do if you’re missing a 1099-NEC
As with 1099-K forms, if you haven’t received a 1099-NEC from a client by March or so, you can request one (or simply choose to ignore it). Again, not receiving the 1099 doesn’t exempt you from reporting that income, so be sure to keep track of direct payments yourself.
Tax forms you’ll fill out
Once you’ve collected your 1099s, it’s time to deal with the forms you’ll have to fill out yourself.
When you're filing taxes as a self-employed person, you’ll need to complete:
- The usual 1040 for your individual income tax return
- Schedule C for your freelance income and write-offs
- Schedule SE to calculate your final self-employment taxes
1040 for personal tax return
Your 1040 is the tax form you fill out every year. To complete your 1040 as a freelancer, however, you’ll need two supplementary forms for write-offs and self-employment taxes:
- Schedule C
- Schedule SE.
Schedule C for income and write-offs
Your Schedule C is where you’ll report your freelance income and, crucially, the expenses you’ll be writing off.
For your income, this will include both gross receipts (from those 1099s!) and cost of goods sold (for anything that requires materials to create — for example, if part of your business is selling custom-built makeup kits to clients).
As for write-offs, this can include everything from the makeup you use on clients to your work-related travel expenses. If you’re not sure what you’re allowed to deduct, don’t worry; we’ll get to that very soon.
Schedule SE for self-employment taxes
Finally, there’s your Schedule SE form to determine your final self-employment taxes. Having filled out your Schedule C, just plug in your net profit (or loss) where specified, then follow the other instructions to the end.
One more thing to know: the threshold for self-employment tax is a bit lower than the 1099 threshold — just $400, rather than $600. So if you’ve earned $400 as a makeup artist this year, you’ll pay taxes on that income. Luckily, you can still use deductions to offset this!
Tax deductions for freelance makeup artists
When filling out your Schedule C form, you may not know what to deduct as a makeup artist. The good news is that it’s probably more than you think.
Here’s a list of common makeup artist tax deductions:
- 💄 Makeup (to use on your clients)
- 🖌️ Makeup supplies and tools (think brushes, curlers, and bags)
- 🧪 Makeup samples (to stay current with the latest products and trends)
- 📣 Advertising publicize your services, including blog hosting fees, social media services, and business cards
- 🚙 Car, gas, and other transportation costs (if you call on clients or visit different sets)
- ✈️ Airfare, hotel, and other travel costs (if you work a gig, attend a convention, or buy supplies somewhere far away)
- 🏠 Rent (if you you see clients in a makeup studio inside your home)
- ⚡Utilities, Wi-Fi, and rental or home insurance (as home studio expenses)
- 📚 Professional development (classes, conventions, etc.)
- 📱 Phone bills for client communication
Worried about getting your write-offs right? With Keeper, you won’t have to worry — you’ll just know. Download the app and find all your write-offs today.
Where to draw the line on business vs. personal expenses
Self-employed makeup artists have to be especially careful about their deductions. The reason? It can be tough to separate makeup for personal use from work-related supplies.
Here's how to keep the IRS off your back — while still getting the write-offs you deserve.
For makeup and beauty products
When it comes to products themselves, the best way to keep things simple is maintaining a professional collection entirely separate from your personal stock.
That way, come tax time, you can just write off whatever supplies you’ve bought for the work collection.
Making sure your beauty products are “ordinary and necessary”
Rule of thumb: Your business expenses have to be “ordinary and necessary” to your work as a makeup artist:
- ✓ “Ordinary” means other MUAs write them off
- ✓ “Necessary” means they help you do your job better
Just to give an example, new brushes to use on clients fall under this umbrella. (You don’t want to contaminate your personal brushes.) Disposable makeup applicators would also count as a reasonable business expense.
However, a new tube of lip gloss to treat yourself can’t be counted as a work expense.
For your home, car, and cell phone charges
For mixed-use expenses, you can take partial write-offs according to how much you use them for work. (This is called your business-use percentage.)
That means you’re probably looking at:
- 🏠 A partial rent write-off, covering just the area in your house where you see clients
- 🚗 Partial car expense write-offs, based on the percentage of miles you’re driving for work (as opposed to personal errands)
- 📱A partial phone write-off, based on how much time you’ve spent calling clients — and updating your professional Instagram!
Other tricks to lower your taxes as a makeup artist
Besides deducting expenses, how else can you lower your taxes as a makeup artist?
The nice thing about filing your own taxes as a freelancer is that you can work with the system to gain financial flexibility. Here are a couple of end-of-year tricks you can use:
1. Paying next year’s work expenses slightly early
For example, if you need to renew a makeup box subscription in January to replenish your work supplies, do it in December.
That way, you can write it off from your upcoming taxes, instead of waiting for the following year for the tax break.
2. Delaying this year’s invoices until next year
This one’s a little trickier, since you may not be able to afford delaying invoices. But if you provide makeup services in December, for example, you can easily send invoices after the holidays, on January 2nd. That way, you won’t have to pay taxes on that income until the following year.
These strategies can give you some much-needed wiggle room come tax season. Keep them in mind, especially if you tend to get more business toward the end of the year for all those parties and special occasions.
When to file taxes as a makeup artist
Most people file their taxes annually, in April. However, if you expect to owe $1,000 or more in taxes as a freelance makeup artist, you should file quarterly — that is, four times a year. Not sure if you fall into that bucket? Find out with our quarterly tax calculator!
The quarterly tax deadlines you’ll want to jot down are:
- April 15th (First)
- June 15th (Second)
- September 15th (Third)
- January 15th of the following year (Fourth)
There you have it: all the info you need to be a model taxpayer as a makeup artist! Hopefully, this article has given you a strong foundation (last makeup pun, we promise) for conducting your financial business over the next tax year — and for many more years to come.
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At Keeper, we’re on a mission to help people overcome the complexity of taxes. We’ve provided this information for educational purposes, and it does not constitute tax, legal, or accounting advice. If you would like a tax expert to clarify it for you, feel free to sign up for Keeper. You may also email email@example.com with your questions.