Surplus Income: One Person in the Household That Is Self-employed

Understanding Surplus Income: A Guide for Solo Entrepreneurs

In the world of finance and taxation, the term Surplus Income often pops up, especially if you’re a self-employed individual. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of surplus income, its calculation, and its implications for self-employed individuals.

Defining Surplus Income

Surplus income, as the term implies, refers to the excess amount of income left after accounting for all necessary living expenses and taxes. This figure plays a crucial role in financial management for solo entrepreneurs, particularly in situations like bankruptcy filing.

Surplus Income: A Unique Challenge for the Self-Employed

The calculation of surplus income presents a unique challenge for self-employed individuals due to the various financial aspects they need to consider. It is applied to a person’s “after-tax” income, which means understanding net income after all business expenses and estimating taxes on this income is vital.

A Real-World Example: Peter the Owner-Operator

To illustrate this concept, let’s consider the case of Peter, a self-employed owner-operator working for a large trucking company. His income is derived from the mileage paid by the company, but he also has to bear all the truck costs (fuel, maintenance, lease, etc). Importantly, no taxes are deducted from his paycheck, leaving the responsibility of tax payment to him.

Due to a slow business period, Peter stopped making his tax payments, leading to a decision to file bankruptcy for a “fresh start”. Now, to calculate his surplus income obligation, Peter needs to prepare an income statement each month.

Key Points for Solo Entrepreneurs

Navigating surplus income as a self-employed individual involves several important considerations:


  • Choosing between accrual and cash basis accounting from the outset of bankruptcy. Accrual accounting involves applying income and expenses in the months they were earned or incurred, while cash method records income when received and expenses when paid.
  • Making a tax installment to the government to claim a tax deduction. Without proof of payment, the deduction is not allowed, leading to an additional surplus payment.
  • Understanding that not all expenses deductible for income tax purposes may be agreed upon by your trustee. It’s essential to clarify this with your trustee.


The Role of the Trustee

The trustee plays a crucial role in the entire process. It’s crucial to discuss in detail the reporting requirements and procedures for determining your surplus income obligation before filing your assignment. A clear understanding of what is required can help avoid any potential issues with your trustee and prevent your bankruptcy from being extended or any court disputes.


Understanding surplus income as a self-employed individual can be complex, but with the right guidance and knowledge, it can be navigated successfully. By taking into account all aspects of your income, expenses, and tax obligations, you can accurately calculate your surplus income and better manage your financial situation.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult with a financial advisor or trustee to ensure you’re making the most informed decisions for your financial health.

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