Would you do mystery shopping if it's the ONLY reason you have to file income taxes?

I'm now on Social Security, getting enough to pay rent and pay bills. I also do part time work as a caregiver for a company. Because you have to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes yourself, when doing mystery shopping, I have to file a tax return. Now I have to decide if it's worth it. Between Social Security and other part time work, I don't make enough to file income taxes. I would make less than $25,000 a year on both. Mystery shopping is the ONLY reason I have to file a return. Would I be better off giving up mystery shopping? I'm also thinking of doing mostly shops that have reimbursements. You're not taxed on reimbursements, and I get to eat out for free many times. Any thoughts on this issue?

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Where does caregiving fit into this equation? Can this be flexible, allowing you to choose jobs based on preference and money so that at the end of the year you are pleased with all jobs and with your tax situation?

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Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/30/2015 08:24PM by Shop-et-al.
@Shop-et-al wrote:

Where does caregiving fit into this equation? Can this be flexible, allowing you to choose jobs based on preference and money so that at the end of the year you are pleased with all jobs and with your tax situation?

I do part time work for a caregiving company. I get a pay check from the company, make about $70 a week. If I get another client, I'll make more. Between Social Security and caregiving, I won't make enough reportable income to file taxes. I am happy with the job, and doing mystery shopping. It is worth doing mystery shopping if it's the ONLY reason you have to file taxes? (for Social Security and Medicare taxes). I'm single, no kids.
If your yearly income is under a certain amount per year, you won't have to pay the self-employment tax (SS and Medicare). You'd still have to report the income though. Check the IRS' website for that specific threshold amount.

Personally if I was in your situation and filing taxes was a bother I wouldn't have to deal with otherwise, I'd do reimbursement only shops. There's plenty around, you can still enjoy the perks and save some money. That way you don't take a total loss just for the sake of avoiding taxes.
I thought you had to file taxes regardless. Just because you file doesn't mean you owe anything.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

I thought you had to file taxes regardless. Just because you file doesn't mean you owe anything.

That's what I had thought too but maybe if you don't owe, you don't get audited if you don't file?
From what I have heard, they rarely audit people under a certain income level anyway because it costs too much to bother with the investigation.
$70 per week is enough income to cause a need to file Federal tax forms, I think. You may not owe anything, but you will need to file.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
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There is an amount of income below which you do not need to file, though with self-employment one is required to file regardless. Even if I was not mystery shopping and not required to file I would file anyway just to have the continuous record of returns. The statistics show a very surprisingly large percentage of audits going to those who do not file at all.
Yes and it should be a simple enough filing process. I have a bit of a hard time with taxes since I am both an IC and an employee with several companies, but I am getting pretty good at it finally.
Updated for Tax Year 2015.
Not everyone is required to file an income tax return each year. Generally, if your total income for the year doesn't exceed the standard deduction plus one exemption and you aren't a dependent to another taxpayer, then you don't need to file a federal tax return.....my income will not be more than the standard exemption plus one exemption.
Update on my post: Next year I might qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Social Security does not count. Based on my estimates I could get over $300 in earned income tax credits.
I would refer you to [www.irs.gov]

"What are My Self-Employed Tax Obligations?

As a self-employed individual, generally you are required to file an annual return and pay estimated tax quarterly."

Be aware that there is a lot of outdated or misinformation on the web about taxes. Go to the SOURCE at the IRS website. What you quote may be correct for those who are earning not much. Be aware that self-employment changes from the garden variety rules.
Hey johnb, that's why I do part-time merchandising, so that I can get the EIC each year. It puts me just above the threshold, and it's nice to offset my SE tax and social security that I have to pay.
you must be very part time if you don't have to file taxes as a caregiver...but realize, you might actually get a refund even if you don't have to file.

and i know my state minimum and federal are different thresholds for filing
I would advise you to file, regardless of whether you think it is necessary. You may qualify for credits that you are not aware of.

Check you area, here, ANY senior can get FREE tax assistance and FREE filing assistance. Most of the time you just take them in your information and they do all the work/fling for you.
I would do it anyway. Else I would sit home all day.

And remember, the threshold for filing for self-employed is net of $600 (IIRC); you have to file and pay SE taxes if you NET over $600.
Is it possible you can find the magic number to keep your income "still" under the level. If let's say for you, that income was $800, can't you schedule your assignments to not exceed $80 a month, as example? smiling smiley
@ceasesmith wrote:


And remember, the threshold for filing for self-employed is net of $600 (IIRC); you have to file and pay SE taxes if you NET over $600.

I am not finding an IRS reference with that information. Can you provide a link?

Edited to add that I understand you pay SE taxes if you NET over $600 but that has nothing to do with the requirement to file self employment activity.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/31/2015 05:27PM by Flash.
I just don't get why the decision to mystery shop would be based on filing anyway. If the income reaches the point it might negatively affect the amount you receive, that makes sense. Otherwise it seems the decision should be based on whether you enjoy the work and/or need the extra money.

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I used to have to pay a small amount each year to the IRS as an IC before I started merchandising part time (when I was solely a mystery shopper). Still, the money and benefits of MSing far outweighted the pittance paid to the IRS. Now as a part-time merchandising employee, I make just enough on W-2s that I qualify for the EIC so I get money back!
@Flash wrote:

@ceasesmith wrote:


And remember, the threshold for filing for self-employed is net of $600 (IIRC); you have to file and pay SE taxes if you NET over $600.

I am not finding an IRS reference with that information. Can you provide a link?

Edited to add that I understand you pay SE taxes if you NET over $600 but that has nothing to do with the requirement to file self employment activity.

You mean there's a way to pay SE taxes and notify the IRS that's what you're paying without filing an actual tax return?

And, of course, you SHOULD file even if you net less than $600. You just don't have to pay any SE taxes on the first $600 SE income.

And I stand corrected. It's only $400. From IRS.gov website:

"You have to file an income tax return if your net earnings from self-employment were $400 or more. If your net earnings from self-employment were less than $400, you still have to file an income tax return if you meet any other filing requirement listed in the Form 1040 instructions (PDF)."

Also, note SE tax is in ADDITION to income tax; it's not income tax. It's social security/FICA and all that good stuff.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/01/2016 02:12AM by ceasesmith.
Yup. I was tired enough I missed the $400/$600 SE level goof, but indeed SE taxes are different than income taxes. Yes, the SE is calculated on self-employment to make sure that your social security and medicare taxes are paid.
I too am in the same boat. I have found that the mileage deduction is worth the whole mess.
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