If you haven't already noticed, the sharing economy is flourishing. If you drive a ride-sharing car, perform household chores for others or rent out a bedroom/vacation home, you're a member of this group. The IRS has just created a new online resource to help freelancers, contractors and micro-entrepreneurs understand their tax obligations in the sharing economy.
As the gig workplace is evolving, there has been a change to how folks rent vacation places, travel, commute and undertake other activities. For one thing, the on-demand job economy depends heavily on technology, such as smartphone apps and time-tracking software. The tax implications affect both the companies providing services, such as Uber and Airbnb, as well as the individuals performing the services.
The first thing to understand is that any income you receive from performing gigs or renting out a spare room is taxable, even if you don't receive an income statement, such as a W-2, Form 1099, Third Party Network Transactions Statement or any one of the several other forms.
As much as you may lament, working for cash or working part-time doesn't relieve you of your tax-reporting responsibilities. The IRS Sharing Economy Tax Center addresses the related tax implications for individuals, including business expenses, depreciation as well as the following 4 points that you might want to take note of.
1. Filing Requirements
If you receive payments as a self-employed person or if you're an independent contractor to one or more small businesses, you probably have to file a tax return. If you aren't sure whether you are an independent worker or an employee, you can refer to ‘Publication 1779, Independent Contractor or Employee?'.
2. Tax Payments
If you have income from self-employment or rent that has not been subject to withholding, it's likely you will have to make estimated tax payments. This is also true if not enough money was withheld from a salary, pension or other sources. Of course, failure to do so could result in penalties. This pretty much reflects the pay-as-you-go nature of the U.S. tax collection system.
Estimated payment dates for the tax year are the 15th of April, June, September and the following year's January. You can incur a penalty for not making estimated payments, even if you end up getting a refund for the tax year.
If you work as an employee but also receive other income, you can avoid estimated payments by having your employer withhold more tax from your paycheck. You can make estimated payments using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.
3. Self-Employment Taxes
There is a unique tax-paying procedure for self-employed persons. Medicare and Social Security taxes are the self-employment taxes individuals must pay. This is separate from any payroll taxes you pay as an employee. To find out more on this topic, visit the IRS Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center.
4. Home Rentals
Income from renting a house, apartment or room is generally reportable as income, but is also subject to certain deductions, such as mortgage interest, insurance, depreciation, property taxes and others.
If you rent out a room in your residence, your deductions are prorated based on the relative amount of rental space to total space and the number of rental days. There is a special rule: If you rent out part of your residence for 14 days or less, you can skip declaring the income but you can't deduct the expenses. Check out the IRS page Rental Income and Expenses - Real Estate Tax Tips for more information.