Generally, tax authorities will view a person as self-employed if the person chooses to be recognized as such, or is generating income such that the person is required to file a tax return under legislation in the relevant jurisdiction. In the real world, the critical issue for the taxing authorities is not that the person is trading but is whether the person is profitable and hence potentially taxable. In other words, the activity of trading is likely to be ignored if no profit is present, so occasional and hobby- or enthusiast-based economic activity is generally ignored by authorities.
Although the common perception is that self-employment is concentrated in a few service sector industries, like sales people and insurance agents, research by the Small Business Administration has shown that self-employment occurs across a wide segment of the U.S. economy. Furthermore, industries that are not commonly associated as a natural fit for self-employment, such as manufacturing, have in fact been shown to have a large proportion of self-employed individuals and home-based businesses
In the United States, any person is considered self-employed for tax purposes if that person is running a business as a sole proprietorship, independent contractor, as a member of a partnership, or as a member of a limited liability company that does not elect to be treated as a corporation. In addition to income taxes, these individuals must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes in the form of a SECA (Self-Employment Contributions Act) tax.
Self-employment is relatively common among new immigrants and ethnic minorities in the United States. In the United States, immigrants tend to have higher rates of self-employment than native-born Americans regardless of race or ethnicity. But, self-employment in the United States is unevenly distributed across racial/ethnic lines. Immigrants and their children who self-identify as White have the highest probability of self-employment in lucrative industries such as professional services and finance. In contrast, racial and ethnic minorities are less likely than native-born Whites to be self-employed