IRS Listens, and Postpones Increased Form 1099 Reporting for PayPal and Venmo

As a result of taxpayer confusion, lack of guidance, concerns about the existing backlog, and impact on the upcoming filing season, tax professionals urged the IRS to postpone the implementation of the new reporting requirements of Forms 1099-K.

Good news: The IRS listened, and last week on December 23, the IRS issued Notice 2023-10 delaying the requirement for electronic payment networks to report transactions over $600 to the IRS on a Form 1099-K, Payment Card and Third Party Network Transactions, until 2024.

Why does this matter?
The IRS is delaying lowering the threshold for Form 1099-K reporting by a year. The $20,000 and 200 transactions thresholds remain in place through December 31, 2023. The rules for reporting income are not changing. Anybody receiving taxable income paid through third-party networks must still track and report their taxable income.

A Form 1099-K is an information form typically provided to freelancers or small business owners who receive payments of income from a client via a third-party payment system (e.g., Venmo, PayPal, or Cash App) and it is often considered self-employment income. However, with the convenience of Venmo, PayPal, or Cash App, many individuals pay personal expenses as well as payments associated with goods and services with these apps.

For example, if a group of friends who regularly has dinner together and one person pays the bill. After the meal, the friends send reimbursement through Venmo. Unless the account or payment is designated as personal, it will trigger a reporting requirement if the annual amount exceeds $600. The person receiving the funds could receive a Form 1099-K, and the IRS will expect to see that income reported on his or her tax return. Payments incorrectly classified as business (goods or services) will trigger a Form 1099-K. If a taxpayer believes it is not taxable and does not include the amount on his or her tax return, it will create a mismatch with IRS systems potentially triggering an IRS notice of adjustments and penalties. If not taxable, taxpayers will be required to provide support as to why the payments should not be included in income. Lowering the threshold from $20,000 to $600 substantially increases the number of Forms 1099-K that will be issued. The postponement should provide taxpayers additional time to properly identify personal versus business payments to prevent misidentified payments from being reported on a Form 1099-K at year-end.

What does this mean for tax year 2022 filings?
Companies such as Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App, known as Third-Party Settlement Organizations (TPSOs), are required to provide annual Forms 1099-K to the IRS and taxpayers. In March 2021, Congress modified the requirements for reporting these transactions by lowering the minimum reporting threshold to any amount over $600 for one or more transactions beginning in 2022. Before the change, companies were required to report transactions for a payee if (1) they exceeded $20,000 and (2) the number of transactions with that payee exceeded 200.

The IRS Notice creates a transition period of one year, postponing the $600 Form 1099-K threshold until the January 31, 2024 reporting date. In essence, the IRS is taking the rules back to the pre-March 2021 threshold ($20,000 and 200 transactions) for any calendar year beginning before January 1, 2023. The lower reporting threshold (any number of transactions totaling $600) remains in effect for calendar years starting after December 31, 2022. This one-year delay does not apply to any of the other Form 1099-K rules not modified by the American Rescue Plan Act.

Why is the IRS postponing this?
This comes in response to serious concerns expressed by the public regarding the ability to comply and taxpayer confusion on how to report Form 1099-K on income tax returns. With little guidance available to the public and a significant increase in the burden on the electronic payment networks, the IRS decided a transition period was necessary.

The IRS states it is aware of public concern about the ability of TPSOs to comply with the $600 Form 1099-K threshold. It also recognizes taxpayers are confused about how to report payments reflected on Forms 1099-K on their income tax returns. The Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Policy, and the IRS have been receiving numerous calls and letters from the public and Congress about the Form 1099-K reporting changes.

It is expected that the IRS will develop guidance and share information to assist taxpayers in complying with the new rules going forward.

What should taxpayers do?
It is important to note that this delay in the $600 Form 1099-K reporting requirements does not change the rules regarding taxability of income. As before, taxpayers must report all income on their tax return, whether they received a Form 1099 or not. Taxpayers should continue to track and report their taxable income from all sources electronic and nonelectronic.

When using electronic payment systems, such as PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App, make sure personal payments like gifts or reimbursements to friends are properly classified as an amount paid for something other than goods or services. Interestingly, Zelle is not subject to any 1099 reporting because it is a bank-to-bank service that does not hold funds. We suggest creating a separate personal and business profile/account to keep business transactions separate from nontaxable personal transactions, or use Zelle.

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