How to Show Proof of Income When Self-Employed

It isn’t always easy to demonstrate proof of income, especially when you don’t have regular paychecks from a steady day job. Fortunately, there are other ways self-employed people can show proof of income, including tax returns, 1099s, and more.

When You Need to Show Proof of Income

Consumers may need to show proof of income in a variety of situations. Two of the most common relate specifically to housing. Whether you’re looking for a new rental or want to get a mortgage, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to showcase your earnings during the screening process. The same can be true when you’re attempting to get other kinds of financing, such as when purchasing a new vehicle using a loan.

Proof of income is critical in these situations because it shows the lender, landlord, or property manager that you have the means to pay what’s owed. By providing the proper evidence, they’ll see what you bring in financially, giving them peace of mind regarding you becoming a borrower or a tenant.

How to Show Proof of Income When Self-Employed

Tax Returns

One of the simplest ways to show your earnings potential is with past tax returns. These will include your earnings for a year, as well as your adjusted income after various deductions relating to your self-employment. Additionally, it contains enough personally identifiable information for landlords, property managers, and lenders to know that it’s a reflection of your or your household’s earnings specifically.

In some cases, past tax returns are mandatory proof of income forms in some situations. For instance, mortgage companies typically won’t consider your application without them.

However, tax returns don’t accurately reflect your current financial situation. Instead, they only show your earnings from a previous year. Depending on when you’re applying for a new rental or financial product, you might need to provide supplementary proof of income that clearly demonstrates your earnings now.


Another option that can work well for self-employed individuals as proof of income is 1099s. These are essentially the self-employment alternative to the W-2, outlining how much you earned from a particular source as a contractor or freelancer.

A 1099 contains all of the critical, official information landlords, property managers, or lenders usually want. It will list your full name, address, and Social Security Number, along with details about your earnings.

But 1099s do provide less comprehensive information than a tax return, as it doesn’t account for any business expense-related deductions. Still, it can show landlords, property managers, or lenders how much you typically bring in annually.

Also, like tax returns, 1099s don’t necessarily show how much you’re earning today. As a result, you may need to supplement this information with other types of proof of income.

Bank Statements

Bank statements can provide another form of proof of income, showing both income and cash reserves. In many cases, you’ll want to provide several months of statements from every deposit account relating to your self-employment activities. That way, all of your income is properly captured, ensuring it’s factored in during the screening process.

If you want to separate your personal activity from your self-employment income, then you’ll need to have individual accounts for each aspect of your life. Otherwise, you’ll need to provide unaltered bank statements that contain everything.

Profit and Loss Statements

If your self-employment involves operating a business instead of working as a sole proprietor, then you may be able to use profit and loss statements as proof of income. These reports track revenue, costs, and relevant business expenses, typically on an annual or quarterly basis, and they’re often mandatory for companies.

If you’re working as a freelancer, you could still create profit and loss statements. It’s possible to tackle the task with a simple spreadsheet, but there’s also software that can make them with relative ease.

However, since profit and loss statements are typically self-generated, some landlords, property managers, or lenders may consider them insufficient. Still, it’s a potential option on the table, so keep that in mind.

Using an accountant to create your profit and loss statements could also give them more credence. Since there’s an outside party that specializes in the field asserting it’s accurate, landlords, property managers, and lenders may be more accepting. But that isn’t always the case, so you’ll want to find out if it will work before investing in an accountant.


For self-employed individuals who issue invoices and receive electronic payments from clients, copies of those invoicing records could serve as proof of income. It shows how much you’re earning from the work you handle.

Plus, with electronic payments through a third-party processor, the records are usually deemed accurate representations of your activity, as the reports aren’t self-generated. Instead, they’re viewed in a similar vein as bank statements.

Just be aware that this option is cumbersome, particularly if your income comes from several clients and in small amounts throughout the month. But even if that’s the case, it’s an approach worth considering, particularly if you want to separate your self-employment earnings from personal financial activities.

Additionally, this works best if you can relate invoices to received payments. Invoices alone only show what you were owed, not how much you made. Without payment records, the landlord, property manager, or lender has no way of knowing whether you’re receiving that money, making the information insufficient for their screening needs.

Pay Stubs

Technically, self-employed individuals can create their own pay stubs as records of their earnings. However, the process can be a little complex. Along with gross pay, you’ll need to record certain deductions, like Social Security and Medicare taxes. That can require some calculations, as they aren’t actually deducted from your earnings.

Recording your net pay is also a must. Additionally, you’ll need to have the data range listed, showing when the money was earned.

In some cases, you may want to find a paystub generator to simplify this process. It will help you use the proper format and ensure you capture the right information. Some may even include built-in calculators, allowing you to make sure you record the correct amounts for the deductions and net earnings.

Work Contracts or Client Statements

At times, you may be able to use work contracts or client statements as proof of income. These essentially outline the nature of your professional relationship, including how much you’ll earn for handling the tasks.

While these may not be enough for a mortgage, they can potentially work if you’re looking for a rental. If you’re only financing a small amount, this may also work, though you’ll likely need to supplement it with more proof.

Proof of Rental Payments

If part of your self-employment venture includes rental properties, proof of rent payments can showcase your income. You may be able to use rent receipts or current leases to outline your earnings. Deposit records from your bank account or reports from electronic payment processors could also suffice.

In most cases, you’ll need to couple the proof of income with documents that show you’re the official owner of the rental property in question. That could include deeds, insurance policies, or similar documents. If you aren’t sure what to provide, ask the landlord, property manager, or lender about their preferences. That way, you can make sure to collect the proof they need to feel confident moving forward.