The IRS Wants More Info About Your Gig Income

If you earn money through a payment app or online marketplace, you may be affected by a tax reporting change enacted by the 2021 American Rescue Plan. The law requires third-party settlement organizations to report business transactions totaling over $600 per year by issuing a Form 1099-K to the taxpayer and the IRS. The previous reporting threshold was much higher ($20,000 and 200 business transactions).

This change was delayed for the 2023 tax year because it could trigger frustrating unintended consequences. For example, an estimated 44 million taxpayers might have received unexpected 1099-K forms — with amounts that may not have been taxable. To provide more lead time, the IRS announced plans to drop the threshold from $20,000 to $5,000 in 2024 (without regard to the total number of transactions) as part of a phase-in of the $600 threshold.

Here are a few more things that may be helpful to know about this far-reaching new rule.

It’s not personal. Business transactions are payments for goods or services, including tips. Money received from the online sale of personal items (like old clothing or furniture), which are normally sold at a loss, is not taxable and generally doesn’t need to be reported. However, those in the business of reselling goods for a profit should carefully track the original costs of their purchases. Payment apps are not required to report personal transactions intended as gifts or to split costs. The payer will typically be asked to note nonbusiness transactions.

It’s not a tax change. Taxpayers who sell goods, rent out a vacation home, walk dogs, or perform any other type of freelance work through digital platforms were already responsible for self-reporting all income on their tax returns regardless of the threshold. But now the IRS will have a way to cross-reference the information sent by third parties with the reported amounts.

Examples of third-party settlement organizations:

Examples of third-party settlement organizations: peer-to-peer payment platform or digital wallet; online marketplace (sale or resale of goods); craft or maker marketplace; auction site; car sharing or ride-hailing platform; real estate rental platform; ticket exchange or resale site; crowdfunding platform; freelance marketplace

It’s not foolproof. This change could still cause confusion and costly mistakes. If a payer (such as a roommate making a shared rent payment) accidently clicks on the wrong box, the recipient could receive a Form 1099-K in error. A freelancer might receive a Form 1099-K from the payment processor and a Form 1099-MISC from the client for the same transaction. In such cases, the taxpayer may need to contact the issuer, and if a discrepancy is not corrected, the reported amount can be adjusted with a notation on the tax return.

Using separate accounts for business and personal digital transactions and keeping organized records will help ensure that your tax return is accurate, so you don’t overpay or raise any red flags with the IRS. If you have questions about how the new rule might affect you, don’t hesitate to consult a qualified tax professional.