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Are Surveys Taxable Income?

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If you earn $600 or more from any survey-taking platform, most taxing authorities consider it taxable income.

It doesn’t really matter how you make extra money–be it playing music, selling items on eBay, or taking surveys for instant cash payouts–the tax man wants to know about it. In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) views survey taking as taxable income and wants you to report any cash, gift cards, or other compensation you receive in the amount of $600 or more.

Nuances of Reporting Compensation

As you get involved with sites with frequent paid survey opportunities, it’s best to keep a good record of the work you do and what you get paid. Many survey sites will send you earning statements that are super handy at tax time, but make sure that the amounts on the statements match your records just in case there is an error that needs to be corrected.

Always report the money you make. If you get caught underreporting income from survey taking, you could face fines and other unpleasant legal repercussions.

If you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that is available for certain low- and moderate-income workers and families, you may get a credit to help reduce your tax obligation or increase your refund.

How Survey Platforms Report Your Income

The survey company you are working for will probably ask you to fill out a W-9 form so they have your Social Security Number. The company will send you a 1099 on or before January 31st with the amount they paid you the previous year.

When you prepare your federal taxes, include the amount from the 1099 (if it matches your records). Please note that you need to include the money you earn to the IRS even if you did not receive a 1099. If you received a 1099-MISC from the payer, you usually report your survey income as hobby income on Schedule 1. If you receive a 1099-NEC, the earnings need to be reported as self-employment income on Schedule C.

When profit is the main motive for taking surveys and is part of an ongoing trade or business, earnings are considered self-employment income. The good news is that when you have self-employment income, you may be able to deduct out-of-pocket expenses related to taking surveys. If you have a dedicated work area in your home, you may also be able to deduct a pro-rata amount of your home’s utilities, taxes, maintenance, etc.

If you are taking surveys for fun, this is hobby income in the eyes of the IRS.

More About Hobby Income

Many people earn a few extra dollars outside of work because they enjoy doing the activity and don’t depend on that money or expect to make a profit. However, if your survey earnings are hobby income, you cannot deduct expenses related to survey taking. These deductions were eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which will be in effect for at least through the end of 2025.

A Few More Thoughts

You always want to stay in good standing with taxing authorities. Even if it seems that the amount you made from taking surveys is minor, play it safe, report it, and pay the taxes you owe. Avoid expiring survey rewards and be careful how you report your survey earnings. If you incorrectly claim it is a hobby, you could trigger an IRS audit.

If you’re unsure about your particular situation, it might be a good idea to consult with a tax expert or to call the taxing authority and ask them directly.