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Yes, You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Side Gig

January 31, 2020

3 min read

More people than ever before are working side gigs, with nearly half of all Americans taking on an additional job to supplement income from a primary job, according to recent data

That may mean you have a main source of income where taxes are deducted by an employer, and you also work on the side, producing income from a freelance gig such as driving a car, walking dogs, writing a blog, or doing handiwork. 

And while that extra income can help you make ends meet, and pay your bills, and hopefully increase your savings and investments, that money unfortunately doesn’t come free. You’re likely to owe federal income tax on it, and just about any money you make. And since you’re most likely earning your side income as a freelancer, or self-employed contractor the chances are no one is taking money out for taxes. That means it’s on you to put money aside and send your payments to you have to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

Here’s a quick explainer of what to expect from taxes if you work in the gig economy.

1-1099-MISC. Each entity you work for as a freelancer should send you a form 1099-MISC by January 31, if you earned $600 or more.

2-Schedule C. You’ll need to file your side-gig income on a Schedule C form, filed annually with your 1040. The form is essentially a statement  of income or loss from a business that you operate independently. You’ll be filing as a sole proprietor.

3-Estimated taxes. Generally speaking, if you owe more than $1,000 in federal income tax from side-gig income, after all of your withholdings and deductions have been accounted for, you’ll also have to file estimated taxes on a quarterly basis, according to the IRS. (If your withholding for other income during the year will cover at least 90% of your total taxes for the current year, or you paid 100% of the prior year’s taxes, however, you may not have to pay estimated taxes.) 

So what are estimated taxes? As their name implies, estimated taxes are an estimate of what you’ll pay in income taxes for the year each quarter.

In addition to income tax, estimated taxes also include self-employment tax. As a general rule, no one is taking money out of your gig income for Social Security, Medicare and disability. It’s up to you to do that. This is generally about 15% of your income from your gigs. 

Good to know: Aim to put aside at least 30% of your income from side gigs to pay Uncle Sam, as a general rule of thumb.

4-Penalties. You can take the easy route and continue to file all at once, at the end of the tax year. But bear in mind, that If you owe quarterly taxes and don’t pay them, you’ll likely owe an underpayment penalty at the end of the year.

5-What are estimated tax payment dates?*

You can find vouchers for your quarterly payments here, as well as options for electronic payments. 

*Source: IRS

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By Jeremy Quittner
Jeremy Quittner is the senior writer for Stash.

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