Online Survey Tips

Paying Taxes on Online Survey Income in the USA

Taxes on USA income
Written by SurveyPolice

Claim all income and prizes

All income generated by taking online surveys should be reported on your income taxes. Keep check stubs on file and keep track of any PayPal payments you receive, in case of an audit. As well, you should also be claiming the cash value of gift certificates and other prizes you receive.

Although you might not have to pay taxes on your earnings and prizes from online surveys, it is in your best interest to report them to the IRS. If you must pay tax on your survey earnings, the marginal tax rate will depend on your income and tax-filing classification. All US citizens of the age of majority, are required to file income taxes, and upon doing your taxes, you will learn how much (if any) tax you will pay on your tax return.

Filling out W9s

U.S. law requires market research companies based in the U.S. to report any amount over $600.00 paid to an individual over a single calendar year, to the IRS. If you reach this threshold, the research company will send you a form called a W9, whose information will be sent to the IRS. The form will ask you for your personally identifiable information (full name, address, etc.) as well as your SSN. This is strictly for tax purposes only and is the only time when it is acceptable to provide a research company with your social security number. » Learn more about Form W9 and Online Survey Taking.

Where to report survey taking income

On your tax return, there will be a line (currently, line 21) entitled “Other income”. Use this line to report the sum total of your earnings from survey taking. This line is used to report a variety of sources of income such as include winnings from lotteries, scholarships, rebates, etc. Online surveys income falls under the subcategories, Non-employee Compensation and Rewards and can be included here. However, if you filled out a W9, it may be best to use Schedule C.

Remember, even if you do not make $600 or more in any given calendar year with a single market research company, you must still report any income you make.

***Disclaimer: The information on this web page is not meant to substitute the advice from a professional. Please consult an accountant or other professional advisor to assist you in best using the information presented here. ***

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  • I got a 1099Misc, and from what I saw online, that is not line 21 but line 16 because they checked box 7. This is costing me over an extra $100 because they didn’t put it in box 3, which is line 21… what a waste of time doing those surveys, I am out a total of $253 by doing them.

  • for tax purposes when do survey companies start the new year? if you stop earning to stay below the 600 threshold when do survey companies allow you to start cashing out again does it start on jan 1 of the new year or is it later?

    • Hi Mark,

      Survey companies consider January 1st to be the start of the new year. Redemptions that happen after this date should be considered part of that year’s earnings. In some cases, companies may instead use the date of when a survey was completed to calculate what year the earnings belong to, but this is atypical. So if you redeem your earnings on January 2, 2017 for surveys that were completed in 2016, your redemption should count towards 2017’s total earnings.

  • Taking online surveys is currently my only source of income. I’ve made about $550 this year. I am a single adult, under 65. Is it really worth it to the government that I file taxes? After I take the standard deduction they would owe me a lot of money. Would they disallow the standard deduction?

    • Hi JM,

      It is our understanding that every US citizen who is not listed as a dependent is required by law to file taxes. As we are not tax advisors, we are unsure how to answer your question regarding the standard deduction, however, if your income level is very low, your total income tax may likely be $0. For more information, you may wish to consult the IRS Withholding Calculator to run a simulation of your tax scenario.

      • Similar question to what JM asked. If I reach or go over $400 in survey earnings in a year, I imagine the tax I owe would be pretty high, right? If that’s the case, it seems like completing surveys online might not be worth it. I don’t want to accidentally go over $400. I heard surveys only pay you preferably around a dollar or two. There’s no you could afford the tax making that much money without having a decent job.

        • Hi C.,

          Thank you for your question. If you make more than $600 in any given calendar year through the same market research company, they will request that you complete a W9 form. This form will then be kept on file by the market research company who will then pass on this information to the IRS. If you make less than $600 year taking surveys from different companies, or even the same one, you will not be required to complete this form.

          The tax rates are dependent upon your level of total income. If you fall into a low income bracket for instance, and you claim your survey earnings, the taxes owed will still be relatively low. It’s only if you’re already a high income earner and are at one of the top marginal tax rates, will additional claimed income from surveys be taxed heavily.

          To find some of the best survey sites out there, take a look at our top user rated survey sites.

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