Hi, My name is XXXXX XXXXX X am a Licensed, Practicing Attorney with a post doctoral degree in Federal Taxation and I will be glad to assist you with your question,
Internal Revenue Code Section 61 defines income as follows:
(a) General definition. Except as otherwise provided in this subtitle, gross income means all income from whatever source derived ........."
This definition also includes "compensation for services, including fees, commissions, fringe benefits, and similar items"
Therefore, any income that is derived from your activities will be includible as "income" for income tax purposes.
The attorney whom your colleague consulted may not have stated that exactly as reported by your colleague. While it is true that the recipient does not have to pay any income on a gift, the Federal Gift Tax states that the Donor (the person making the gift) can make gifts totaling $13,000 annually without having to file a Gift Tax return and without paying a Federal Gift Tax on such gift.
"Donations" from an audience, internet or otherwise, are not really donations, nor are they gifts for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code and the Internal Revenue Service. For Internal Revenue Code purposes, "donations" can only be made to 501(c)(3) charitable corporations.
To summarize, any money coming in is considered "income" according to Internal Revenue Code Section 61; money sent to you from your activities on the internet or elsewhere are not classified as "gifts", they are considered taxable income. However, even though you must report this as income, it will be offset by all your expenses which are deductible.
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