Just accepted a tax prep shop -- won't my mystery shopping income give me away?

So I just accepted a shop assignment for tax preparation. I had to accept before I could see full instructions, which I've just looked over.

Since I have to file taxes on my mystery shopping income, will I not immediately be giving myself away??!! As expected, the guidelines do not address this as far as I can see.

Has anyone done one of these before? How did you handle your mystery shopping income, since you have to state profession -- and since this is self-employment income, it will require a Schedule C with the nature of the work identified, won't it?

Thanks in advance for any advice, especially if you've done one of these before. I really could use the $ towards my tax prep this year, so I don't want to cancel the assignment just because of this.

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Mystery shoppers have to file their returns too and some of them use a tax preparer. If you are questioned, just act like a normal client. You can always say "I had no idea there were those kind of shops."

There are different types of tax preparation shops and different clients. Astoundingly in the past there was one MSC that stated if you file a Schedule C for mystery shopping you are not eligible. How could they ever be filled?
There are people who do not file a Schedule C for mystery shopping because they don't treat it as a business and take the deductions. I was one of them while doing it occasionally back in 2003 to 2005. The whopping $400 to $700 I earned each year was reported as regular income like I would have done with a part-time job.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
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You don’t need to report that your occupation on your 1040 or Schedule C is a mystery shopper. I say that I’m a “Researcher.” You could try “Auditor” or think of your own. If you have 1099s where the company has the words “mystery shopping” in the title it would be a dead giveaway but I don’t think that happens much.
Mystery shopping income can be classified as miscellaneous income. Most MSC are named as a LLC for marketing or research firms. Very few says "JohnBrowns Mystery Shopping Company". smiling smiley
Really the name of MSCs would only apply if you were providing them 1099s. Many years I only receive a handful of 1099s and my tax preparer doesn’t need them anyway. He works off the numbers I provide then I include them when mailing my return.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
Schedule C only wants to think where your miscellaneous income come from. The 1099 represent a source or an entity. It does not represent a mystery. Not everything gets one. It can be word of mouth. If asked, tell the Preparer, you are a Private investigator. The Preparer is only there to do the taxes. Not judge you or your business.
I am in the same boat. Anybody who has actually done these shops ? How did they handle this extra income(from MS) ? Did you say auditing , regular income or accepted it is from MS ?

And these shops require a big investment and later we are reimbursed . Any suggestion on how hard is it doing this shop ?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/08/2018 10:00PM by komalagarwal695.
Ultimately I decided not to try it. I think the chances of having the shop rejected are higher than normal, and that would mean I am spending a lot of money for a tax prep place that might not have been my first (or 20th) choice.
What company was offering the tax return shops? I have completed the shops in the past but haven’t saw any this year.
I did it once a few years ago, but decided it was not worth it to do it again. I don't remember the report being too bad, but it is a big outlay of money upfront. You get reimbursed, of course, but I have stopped doing the shops which require a lot of money upfront unless it is something I really want.
I like my tax professionals. I am not going anywhere else for service. They know that I am a shopper, among other roles. This is fine with me. Someone else can mystery shop them. They are my personal/professional experts.

Yes, the tax pro will know or surmise from your information that you are a mystery shopper. However, they will not necessarily know that their work is the subject of a current mystery shop. It is possible that they prepare taxes for other mystery shoppers and consider this just one of many job types that they see during their work. They may do mystery shops.

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