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What You Need to Know About 1099-K

Tax
What You Need to Know About 1099-K

Merchants who sell products online and/or in bricks-and-mortar stores may receive a statement from their payment processor called Form 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions. There is much confusion about the form and what it means to your income tax reporting for federal and state tax purposes. Hopefully, the following clears up the confusion.

When the form must be issued
If you accept payment by credit/debit card and/or a third-party settlement organization that accepts payments for you, then each year you may receive Form 1099-K. This is an information return that banks, PayPal, and other payment processors (called “third party networks”) are required by federal law to issue to merchants if the total amount of transactions for the year exceed $20,000 and the aggregate number of these transactions exceeds 200.

The amount reported to you on the 1099-K has nothing to do with how you value your goods, your return policy, or state tax income and sales tax rules. It is merely a federal rule imposed on third party networks that process payment transactions; they can be penalized if they fail to comply.

Reporting on your tax return
You do not have to reconcile the amount on Form 1099-K with the gross receipts you report on your return. There is no requirement on federal income tax returns to report the exact amount that appears on Form 1099-K. There is no line for such reporting or any instructions to do so. Of course, you must report your sales in accordance with federal and state income tax rules. This is true even if you don’t receive a form.

The reason why amounts on Form 1099-K may be out of line with what’s reported on your return: The 1099-K does not reflect any allowances or returns. It does not take into account your cost-of-goods sold and other expenses you can use to reduce the taxable profit from your sales.

However, you should review the form when preparing your return and retain it with your other tax documents.

How the IRS uses 1099-K information
The reason for having information returns is to help the IRS check for income reporting. The IRS has used 1099-Ks to catch some sellers who failed to report their sales in line with amounts on the information return. For example, the IRS used 1099-Ks to catch unreported income by a coin dealer on eBay and a jewelry merchant at art shows.

State reporting
Nearly a dozen states, including Massachusetts, require that 1099-K be submitted to them if the merchant has an address in their state. Check for state rules, which have reporting thresholds lower than the federal one and may even have their own state 1099-K form.

Handling 1099-K problems
While you don’t have to reconcile your reported gross receipts with the amount on the 1099-K, you should be sure that what’s been reported to you (and to the IRS and possibly your state) is correct. For example, a 1099-K may be issued to you in error (e.g., it belongs to another business or is issued in your name even though your business is a corporation). If you have any such problem, contact the issuer to request a correction. For instance, if the 1099-K should have been issued to your corporation instead of in your name, with your Social Security number, ask that a corrected statement with the corporation’s employer identification number, be issued.

If you think you should have received a form but didn’t, don’t worry. The penalty for not providing you with the form is on the third party network.

Conclusion
Form 1099-K is required to be provided to merchants by the end of January following the year to which it relates (e.g., February 1, 2021, for 2020 transactions because January 31 is a Sunday). Later, if you receive a notice from the IRS referencing Form 1099-K, consult with your CPA or other tax professional.

Note from the editor: This is a good time to remind readers of Barbara’s tax guides, including “J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2021.”

Barbara Weltman
Barbara Weltman
Barbara Weltman is an attorney, prolific author with such titles as "J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business," and trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of "Idea of the Day(R)" and monthly e-newsletter "Big Ideas for Small Business(R)" at BarbaraWeltman.com and host of "Build Your Business" radio. Follow her on Twitter: @BigIdeas4SB.

3 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About 1099-K”

  1. Hope ebay reads this, didn’t even know until the 1099 came out if taxes paid by buyers would even be on it.. It was a 50/50 advice from their reps and NO announcement ever made

  2. Recommending J. K. Lasser to help with their taxes is a great idea as it is written in plain English and will help explain what something really means and spell it out for you. I prepared taxes for many years and I learned at the CPA office I worked at to always have that book handy. Amazing just how thick it has gotten with all of the tax law changes in the last few years. Any seller who has a question about how to do anything tax wise on their return or what to have for your accountant will find that book to be one of your best investments, especially since you can buy it for as little as $12.

    One thing i would add to what was said in this article is that to make sure that you are not putting up any red flags for the IRS, it is really in the Sellers best interest to make sure the Gross Income they report is at least as much as the 1099’s are reporting to the IRS. If you kept very good records and can dispute the information provided on 1099K then you might want to try to get the issuer to revise their information and submit a corrected 1099K to the government. As for reporting at least the same amount as the 1099’s reflect it just makes the computer not want to flag your tax return for an inquiry. You can always write off discounts, refunds as well as any Sales Tax that is reflected in that number which is how I have done my Schedule C each time i have needed to file it with my return.

    If you have any other questions after reading this article, you should check with your tax preparer for the answers that best fit your situation.

  3. Remember when the Donald told us that tax filing would be easy and it would only take a few minutes and we would have one piece of paper to fill out?? Does anybody remember that. Over the years tax filings have become more complicated. The more you try to get ahead the more paperwork.

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