Additional Income: Is It Taxable?

We’ve briefly touched on the topic of paying income taxes on eBay sales in the past, but a lot of people are unsure as to whether additional income in general needs to be reported to the IRS. By additional income, I’m referring to anything that’s not part of your usual pay packet, which can include money making activities such as eBay and Amazon sales, completing online surveys, mystery shopping and babysitting. Contrary to popular opinion, the IRS will expect to be informed of all additional income — even if it falls under the taxable threshold or is not subject to tax.


Photo by sercasey via Flickr

What Kinds of Additional Income Are Taxable?

Here are a few examples of additional income sources that you may encounter:

  • If you baby-sit — even on an occasional basis — you are deemed to be a childcare provider and are subject to the same tax rules. Assuming that you are not employed as a full-time or live-in nanny or other childcare provider, the IRS is likely to deem you as babysitting on a self-employed basis.
  • Gambling profits are subject to tax, and should be included on line 21 of Form 1040. Profit declarations should include the value of both cash and non-cash prizes that you may win.
  • Even prizes are taxable and the cash value should be included on line 21 of Form 1040.
  • Selling personal belongings on auction sites or selling a car should be declared on Schedule D (Form 1040) as capital gains tax if you made a profit on them. However, as the majority of people eventually sell these items for less than what they were originally bought for, you probably won’t need to report this form of additional income. It’s good practice to declare it anyway, especially if you want to doubly cover your tracks or aren’t sure whether the IRS would class your auction sites sales as a hobby or a business. The legal stance on this is different if you are actively buying items to sell them on for a profit, as this is classed as a business and any gains from it should be reported as such.

How To Declare Additional Income

Generally speaking, how you should go about declaring additional income depends on the activity in question but in most cases, it should be declared on specific forms. For example, childcare providers who are deemed to be self-employed should fill in one of the following forms to declare additional income from baby-sitting services: Schedule C Profit or Loss From Business (Form 1040) or Schedule C-EZ Net Profit From Business (Form 1040).

What Happens If You Don’t Declare It

If your additional income should be subject to tax but isn’t declared, expect the IRS to pursue you for the debt if it comes to their attention. This tax debt will probably be due straight away, although you may be able to negotiate on this if you can prove that you are experiencing financial difficulties.

About the Author

By , on Oct 15, 2009
Sally Acquire is a freelance writer on topics relating to personal finance. She wrote this article for Tax Matters Solutions, a Fort Wayne financial services company that helps people with IRS problems, such as those due to unfiled tax returns.

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Leave Your Comment (8 Comments)

  1. ITS Guy says:

    If you are classed as Self-Employed you’ll need to register for NI purposes. You might be able to do this online nowadays, but I’m not sure.

  2. Sara says:

    The IRS, they’re always watching. I wonder how many young high school kids will actually get pursued by the IRS for babysitting. Highly unlikely, if you ask me, but then again the IRS never ceases to surprise me.

  3. TraderBots says:


    Maybe I’m just fooling myself, so everything doesn’t look so grim. I see taxes as paying for stability. Paying for the fact that the money I earn will be there tomorrow. That I probably won’t be robbed, etc, etc.

    Although with the government printing money like monopoly money, I’m starting to lose faith.

    Also, what I hate is how Social Security and all that other stuff that’s taken out is really also a tax, but some people don’t consider it as such.

    Argh. Argh. Breathe.

  4. There’s no escaping them. They demand their cut of everything.

  5. Clf says:

    The best thing we ever did was pay the extra money for a good bookkeeper and a good CPA (chartered account)

  6. Unfortunately, everything is taxable! There’s no escaping Uncle Sam.

    That said, b/c of the huge cash transaction market, there is a large black/grey market where things happen. This is where you can get discounts.

  7. Good advice to all those casual ebay sellers!

  8. kenyantykoon says:

    these people have thought of every way to extort money from the masses. i was thinking about them recently and i noticed that the IRS (these two words combined) becomes theirs!! IS this a strange coincidence or did they get the title after deciding what they were really there for?? i think its the latter

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