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PayPal 1099: How to Report Self-Employment Income to the IRS


You probably have multiple ways of collecting money from clients and customers to run your small business. One of the best options available is PayPal.

PayPal makes it possible to accept payments without setting up a merchant account. It’s an easy, flexible and safe way to take customer payments, which is probably why PayPal has more than 392 million active accounts

However, receiving payments through a third-party processor can make things complicated come tax season. And you may wonder if you have to report the income you earned through PayPal to the IRS. This article will outline your options and explain how to fill out a PayPal 1099 form

Did you know? PayPal processed more than $1 trillion in payments over the last year and 31,455 payment transactions per second.

Do you have to report income earned through PayPal to the IRS?

You have to report income to the IRS, including payments from customers via PayPal. If you don’t report your income, the IRS can consider it under-reported income, and you may get hit with additional taxes and fees. 

In fact, if you sell over a certain amount, then PayPal will automatically report these payments. That’s because IRS Section 6050W states that payment processors – like PayPal – are responsible for reporting information about customers who receive payments for goods and services. 

How much do you have to sell on PayPal to receive a 1099?

If your annual sales on PayPal are relatively low, there’s a chance you won’t receive a 1099. And if your yearly income from a particular client falls below $600, that client may not send you a 1099. 

But whether you receive a 1099 or not, you’re responsible for reporting any income you earn on your taxes. Any money you earn is considered taxable income, regardless of whether or not you receive a 1099 in the mail.

If your gross income falls below $20,000 and you have fewer than 200 transactions in a calendar year, you’ll file the 1099-NEC on your own. The 1099-NEC is a form used to report self-employment income. 

FYIFYI: In 2020, the IRS introduced the 1099-NEC form to replace the previously used Form 1099-MISC.

How does PayPal track my income?

PayPal tracks the gross sales transactions of each account for a calendar year. If you earn more than $20,000 from the sale of goods and services and exceed 200 separate transactions, PayPal reports this income to the IRS.

However, some states have a lower reporting threshold for merchants. In Vermont, Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland, the minimum reporting threshold is $600 in gross payment volume, regardless of how many transactions occurred. 

The minimum is $1,000 in gross payment volume in Illinois, with at least four separate transactions processed. If you exceed the minimum income requirements, PayPal may contact you and ask for your Social Security number or Employer Identification Number (EIN).

From there, the company should send you a copy of a 1099-K by January 31. 

Did you know?Did you know? You can also use PayPal to accept credit card payments from customers, expanding your company’s payment options.

What is a 1099-K? 

Form 1099-K is a form you’ll fill out and submit with your tax returns. Third-party payment processors – like PayPal – are required to send a 1099-K to merchants that meet the reporting requirements. 

Here is the information you can expect it to include on a 1099-K: 

  • Your name, address and contact information
  • Your tax identification number (TIN)
  • The payee’s TIN
  • The payee’s name, address and contact information
  • Gross amount of payment transactions
  • Total number of payment transactions
  • The merchant category code
  • Income earned by the month
  • The state and state identification number
  • State income taxes withheld
  • Federal income taxes withheld

What is the difference between a 1099-NEC and a 1099-K?

Self-employment comes with many benefits, but it can make things more confusing come tax season. It can be difficult to understand the different forms you’re required to fill out to comply with IRS regulations.

If you regularly use a service like PayPal, you may hear about forms 1099-NEC and 1099-K. The IRS released form 1099-NEC in 2020, replacing Form 1099-MISC. This form is specifically designed for freelancers and consultants.

If your small business earns more than $600 a year to a particular client, you can expect to receive a 1099-NEC from that company. But if you earn more than $20,000 in gross annual sales and have more than 200 transactions through a third-party payment processor, like PayPal, you’ll also receive a 1099-K.

These forms are required because, unlike W-2  employees, self-employed individuals can claim business deductions, which lowers their taxable income. 

TipTip: Learn more about the pros and cons of hiring 1099 vs. W-2 employees.

Taking deductions against PayPal and 1099 income

You can deduct business-related expenses from your annual income if you file a Schedule C. In fact, you get to file expenses regardless of how much you earned the previous year. 

If you were actively engaged in business activities and didn’t earn any income, you can still deduct your expenses. It just has to be considered an ordinary and necessary expense by the IRS.

An ordinary expense is something that’s common in your industry. A necessary expense is something that’s helpful for your type of business. These are some of the most common business expenses that are fully tax deductible:

  • Accounting fees
  • Third-party payment processing fees
  • Marketing and advertising costs
  • Continuing education expenses
  • Payments to contract workers
  • Payroll expenses
  • Software subscriptions
  • Domain names and website hosting
  • Legal fees
  • Rent 
  • Office equipment

Exceptions to consider

However, the IRS does specify that three types of expenses must be categorized separately from other expenses. You must separately track the cost of goods sold, capital expenses and personal expenses based on these descriptions:

  • Cost of goods sold: Cost of goods sold is any expense related to manufacturing your product. This includes expenses for raw materials, storage or labor costs. 
  • Capital expenses: Capital expenses are the money you spend to buy, maintain or improve your company’s assets – such as equipment or rental property.
  • Personal expenses: Personal expenses are expenses that aren’t related to your business. For instance, if you paid to go on vacation with your family, that’s considered a personal expense. 

How to go about filing your PayPal income

For your new business, tracking and filing your PayPal income is pretty straightforward. But as your company expands, it will become more complex and your transactions will be more difficult to track. 

That’s why it can be helpful to start using accounting software to manage your income and expenses right from the beginning. Here’s a look at some accounting software to consider. 

TipTip: If you’re new to accounting software, check out our reviews of the best accounting and invoicing software solutions.

QuickBooks

QuickBooks is one of the most popular options available, and it’s our pick as the best option for your growing business. Learn more in our review of QuickBooks. One of the best things about the software is that it’s scalable.

The company offers four different plans, along with a variety of add-on services. It utilizes double-entry accounting and offers comprehensive reporting features. However, QuickBooks does come with a bit of a learning curve, especially if you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting principles.  

Xero

Xero is a cloud-based accounting software, and it’s one of the best options available for your expanding business. Read our full review of Xero for more information. One of the unique things about Xero is that it allows account holders to add an unlimited number of users, regardless of their pricing tier. This can make Xero more affordable than other types of accounting software on the market.

Xero uses double-entry accounting, and allows you to create a variety of financial reports. You can also use the software to send online quotes, invoices and automatic payment reminders. 

FreshBooks

FreshBooks is accounting software that’s designed for customers with little knowledge of accounting. Learn more in our FreshBooks review. The software is intuitive and easy to use, and offers all the basic functionality for your business. 

FreshBooks allows you to send invoices, track your expenses and record payments. It also gives you the option to both track your time and send client estimates. Additionally, the software integrates with nearly 100 different apps.

Zoho Books

Zoho Books is one of the best options available for your small business – whether you are solo or have just a few employees. Read our review of Zoho Books for more information. You can use the software to keep track of all your outstanding invoices and collect customer payments.

Zoho Books lets you send invoices and automated payment reminders. You can also use the software to track and manage inventory.

Zoho Books is part of the Zoho productivity suite. One of its accounting software features is managing the details of individual client projects. You can schedule tasks and timelines from the app, which offers convenience and efficiency.

Final thoughts on filling out a PayPal 1099 

If you earn money through PayPal from the sale of products or services, you’re expected to report that income to the IRS. At the very least, you’ll need to fill out a 1099-NEC, but if you meet the minimum income requirements, PayPal will send you a 1099-K as well.

One of the most important things you can do is to stay on top of your company’s income and expenses from the very beginning. Utilizing accounting software will help you avoid many accounting mistakes by connecting you directly to your business checking account. 

Accounting software will help you accurately categorize your expenses and keep track of customer payments. And come tax season, you can give your accountant access to your accounting software. That way, you can rest assured that all your T’s are crossed come spring. 



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