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The CPA Photographer Series: Anything over $600

I will be honest, I was content watching “Squid Game” on Netflix (I highly suggest watching it), thinking about how the players in the game will have to be taxed if they were to win and survive. But someone on Facebook needs to make a post that has to go viral, making everyone freak out that they will be taxed on every Venmo transaction they have. So Mr. CPA Photographer now needs to go full CPA on a blog post on his photography website (I will do a future post geared towards people in the industry). I guess I will finish Squid Game later.


So I am replacing my camera for a golf visor and calculator…


Let us take a look at what this post says. First is the written portion by the Original Poster (OP) (screenshots are below)


“Anything over $600 (even accumulating to this, not just one single transaction) within a year using PayPal, Venmo, square, apply pay, zelle YOU WILL HAVE TO WRITE THIS OFF AND HAVE IT BE TAXED. They are attacking small buisness owners, lower and middle class. This is unbelievable. Never, ever give up cash. Once you do, it’s all over.”




Let me assure you... (OP) took the same Facebook qualification course every social media expert takes for legal, political, and medical knowledge.


Next comes the screenshot attached to the post, which says the following


!ATTN BUSINESS OWNERS & SIDE HUSTLERS!


Starting January 1, 2022 if you receive more than $600 a year on Cash App, Paypal, Venmo, Square, Apple Pay… you will get a 1099K and it will be recorded as taxable income!


This was passed in March 2021 but many of us over looked it in the American Rescue Plan act.


I suggest you start getting serious now about your business and start tracking every transaction and expense!


They are cracking down and many self employed, side hustling, business owners will have a huge tax wake up call in the coming years.




(Before I go into the thick of it… and at the risk of losing a reader due to my upcoming rant and explanation, all business income and expenses need to be reported regardless if they are reported on a Form 1099. Now buckle up your seatbelt and let us go for a ride. )


There is a decent amount to digest here. As much as I want to rip apart OP for their interesting choice of words...I am going to take the mindful approach and correct the post … and then rip apart OP.


Let us start with the truth. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act was passed, and IT LOWERED THE 1099-K REPORTING THRESHOLD TO $600 FOR THIRD PARTY PAYMENT TRANSACTIONS TAKING PLACE AFTER DECEMBER 31, 2021. To my readers, form 1099-K is nothing new, and it has been around for some time. Hell, if you had received over 200 Venmo transactions totaling over $20,000 during the year, you may have already received one!


“BUT EVAN!!! WHAT IS THIS 1099-K?! IT SOUNDS REALLY SCARRYYY!”


Well, let us take a look at what it says on the IRS’s website (which has not been updated for the ARP as of 10/2/2021 @ 10 PM).


A Form 1099-K includes the gross amount of all reportable payment transactions. You will receive a Form 1099-K from each payment settlement entity from which you received payments in settlement of reportable payment transactions. A reportable payment transaction is defined as a payment card transaction or a third-party network transaction.


So the 1099-K is a form you receive at the beginning of the year reporting the “payments” you received in the prior year from either credit card or third-party network transactions (Zelle, Venmo, etc…). For credit card transactions, there is no minimum reporting threshold. So as soon as you receive a payment from a credit card for your goods/services, you will be issued a 1099-K from the credit card company.


On the other hand, for Third-Party Transactions (Venmo, Zelle, etc…), there is a threshold requirement. The original reporting threshold for a third-party transaction used to be greater than $20,000 in aggregate payments and over 200 transactions from a payment provider (Venmo, Zelle, etc.). So if you had one transaction totaling $100,000, you would not have received a 1099-K and the same for having 201 transactions that only totaled $19,999. But if you received 201 transactions totaling $20,000.01, that would trigger the reporting requirement. With the ARP being passed as soon as you hit $600 in transactions from Venmo (or other payment services), you trigger the reporting requirement.


“Well, wow, Evan, this sucks. Why would the government do this to us?!? They are hurting small businesses! My favorite tea & doughnut shop will go out of business!!!”


No… this does not suck...it makes sense. The funny thing about governments is that they are usually 5-10 years behind laws regarding newer technologies. In this case, the latest technology would be Venmo (and other payment services). They are matching up the 1099-K reporting to be in line with the 1099-NEC (used to be included in the 1099-MISC). The 1099-NEC (Non-Employee Compensation) works the same way, except it is cash paid for goods and services, and the threshold is for each payor rather than the payment provider.


So if you are a model and a photographer pays you $1,000 via a check/cash to model, you should receive a 1099-NEC from the photographer in January stating that they paid you $1,000 of non-employee compensation in the prior year. But if you worked with a second photographer in the same year and paid you $400, you would technically not receive a 1099-NEC from the second photographer, but YOU ARE STILL REQUIRED TO REPORT THE INCOME ON YOUR TAX RETURN! So at the end of the year, you would show $1,400 of business/self-employment income on your tax return, and you would have received a 1099-NEC from the first photographer showing only $1,000.


Instead of the photographers paying you with cash in the above example, let us assume they paid you via Venmo. At the end of the year, you would receive a 1099-K from Venmo stating you received $1,400 of payments. From there, you would report it on your tax return.


NOTE!

Forms 1099-K and 1099-NEC should not be used to tell you what to report on your tax return but rather assist you with reconciling what you report. In the first example, with the photographers paying cash, you would only receive the one 1099-NEC for $1,000. If you only reported that, you would be underreporting your income by $400. So it is essential to keep an accurate record of your books or talk to an accountant on how to get set up correctly.


Now that we understand the purpose of form 1099-K let us look at the post and fix it up. Anything over $600 (even accumulating to this not just one single transaction) within a year using PayPal, Venmo, square, apply pay, zelle…


We are close, but let us change it to “A Taxpayer that receives in aggregate $600 or more via a third party payment network for goods or services provided during a tax year will receive a 1099-K.” So if you receive $600 from Venmo, you should expect a 1099-K from Venmo. Fairly simple. Now...



(THIS PART MAKES ME CRINGE)


YOU WILL HAVE TO WRITE THIS OFF AND HAVE IT BE TAXED.


Well… OP never read my article about “Can You Write Off Your Photoshoot” because I go over what a write-off is. There will be a pop quiz ahead, so please read the article about write-offs (https://www.etgphotos.com/post/can-i-write-off-my-photoshoot).



POP QUIZ TIME!


What is a write-off for tax purposes???


  1. An expense incurred in the ordinary course of business that offsets taxable business income.

  2. It is income received.

  3. OP should never be allowed to write another post about taxes.

  4. Both A & C


If you answered D, you are correct. I would also take A and C separately as well. But we all know that OP would have failed and would pick B.


OP's comment makes no sense, almost as if she does not know what she is talking about (and there is nothing wrong with that because tax is complicated, but talk to a professional first before scaring the public). So we know that a tax write-off is an expense incurred that offsets your taxable business income. With OP's wording, she says that we take an expense, and tax it. Generally speaking (fellow tax accountants, we are keeping this simple for the public, but feel free to attack me on Reddit or something), if we have no income and only expenses...that means we have a loss! The IRS cannot tax your net income if you are in a loss position.



What OP's comment should say is the following. “You will have to report any income received during the taxable year and offset your business income with business expenses. This ensures everyone is reporting their income correctly and not trying to cheat the system.”



They are attacking small buisness owners, lower and middle class. This is unbelievable. Never, ever give up cash. Once you do, it’s all over.”


No one is being attacked here. If there was a provision that if your business (also OP...we have spell checkers….Grammarly is great) made less than $150,000 you would face a 50% tax… then yes your statement would be right...but that is not the case.


The never give up cash part is funny. Guess what? It puts you in the realm of 1099-NEC reporting (as discussed above).


And you might be thinking, “Evan, you are so dumb, they cannot catch me if they only pay me cash, and I understate my cash income. So I will just tell the payor not to submit a 1099-NEC/refuse to give them my information.”


I will be honest. I have no idea what are the chances of an auditor catching you for understating your cash income. In reality, I am not allowed to base an opinion on the probability of someone getting audited. What I do know is that the government has two unlimited resources: time and money. Trust me, if an auditor comes in, they will not leave until they find something. And it is way cheaper to pay whatever tax you owe fully than the legal and professional service cost to fix your prior year filings because you wanted to understate your income from cash transactions. So either do the right thing now or potentially face penalties and interest later.



And now for the screenshot post... It is not horrible. Many people miss the “BUSINESS OWNERS AND SIDE HUSTLERS” at the top, which scares them into thinking they will be thrown into this reporting mess. If you look at the provision, it states that “Clarification That Reporting Is Not Required on Transactions Which Are Not for Goods or Services”. So if your friend is reimbursing you for Taco Bell, you have nothing to worry about.


The part that bugs me about the screenshot is that you need to start getting serious about keeping track of everything. The reality is that if you are a business owner/ side hustler, you should already be doing this. However, if you have been committing tax evasion by underreporting your income and the 1099-K changes is your wake-up call...you have much bigger issues ahead of you. If that is the case, I seriously suggest you reach out to a CPA firm and have them assist you.



Bottom line, if you have been reporting everything correctly, keep track of your income and expenses, file on time, you have nothing to worry about. Yes, there are about a hundred different scenarios that I could go over on this topic, but I want to put an end to everyone freaking out.


That is enough tax talk for now. I am going to pick up my camera and focus on my side-hustle.









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