The number of people participating in the “gig” or sharing economy has grown in recent years. In an August 2021 survey, the Pew Research Center found that 16% of Americans have earned money at some time through online gig platforms. This includes providing car rides, shopping for groceries, walking dogs, performing household tasks, running errands, and food delivery services from restaurants or stores.
While this is a great way to some earn extra income, there are also tax consequences that go with it. Basically, if you receive income from an online platform offering goods and services, it’s generally taxable. This is true even if the income is from a side job and even if you don’t receive an income statement reporting the amount of money you made.
Traits of gig workers
Gig workers are those who are independent contractors and conduct their jobs through online platforms. Examples include: Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Angi, Instacart and DoorDash.
Unlike traditional employees, independent contractors don’t receive the benefits associated with employment or employer-sponsored health insurance. They also aren’t covered by the minimum wage or other protections of federal laws, aren’t part of states’ unemployment insurance systems, and are on their own when it comes to training, retirement savings, and taxes.
If you’re part of the gig or sharing economy, here are some considerations.
- You may need to make quarterly estimated tax payments because your income isn’t subject to withholding. These payments are generally due on April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15 of the following year. (If a deadline falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline is extended to the next business day.)
- You should receive a Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation, a Form 1099-K, or other income statement from the online platform.
- ome (or all) of your business expenses may be deductible on your tax return, subject to the normal tax limitations and rules. For example, if you provide rides with your own car, you may be able to deduct depreciation for wear and tear and deterioration of the vehicle. Be aware that if you rent a room in your main home or vacation home, the rules for deducting expenses can be complex.
It’s critical to keep detailed records, tracking income and expenses, in case you are audited by the IRS or a state/local tax authority. Contact us if you have questions about your tax obligations as a gig worker or the deductions you can claim. You don’t want to get an expensive surprise when you file your tax return next year.