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Lev
Lev, Tax Advisor
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 28082
Experience:  Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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I sell things on Ebay and call it "hobby income." Half of it

Customer Question

I sell things on Ebay and call it "hobby income." Half of it is used stuff from around my house, and the other stuff is stuff from garage sales. I know I can't deduct expenses. But what I don't understand is this: If I buy something for $5, sell it for $12, and the person pays me $14 because it costs $2 to ship, then is my actual taxable income $7? ($14 minus $2 minus $5), even though on Paypal it looks like I was paid $14?
Thank you!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Lev replied 1 year ago.
Hi and welcome to our site!There is a difference between reporting income from hobby and from business.Your calculations are correct if your activity is classified as a business.Then - you woudl report gross income, deduct all qualified business expenses - and will add only net business income to your other taxable income.With hobby - situation is different. You will report the full income - and it will be included into your adjusted gross income. Deductions for hobby activities are claimed as itemized deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040).
Expert:  Lev replied 1 year ago.
In general, taxpayers may deduct ordinary and necessary expenses for conducting a trade or business. An ordinary expense is an expense that is common and accepted in the taxpayer’s trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the business. Generally, an activity qualifies as a business if it is carried on with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit.
The IRS presumes that an activity is carried on for profit if it makes a profit during at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year.
If an activity is not for profit, losses from that activity may not be used to offset other income. An activity produces a loss when related expenses exceed income. The limit on not-for-profit losses applies to individuals, partnerships, estates, trusts, and S corporations. It does not apply to corporations other than S corporations.
Deductions for hobby activities are claimed as itemized deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). These deductions must be taken in the following order and only to the extent stated in each of three categories:
•Deductions that a taxpayer may take for personal as well as business activities, such as home mortgage interest and taxes, may be taken in full.
•Deductions that don’t result in an adjustment to basis, such as advertising, insurance premiums and wages, may be taken next, to the extent gross income for the activity is more than the deductions from the first category.
•Business deductions that reduce the basis of property, such as depreciation and amortization, are taken last, but only to the extent gross income for the activity is more than the deductions taken in the first two categories.
Following article might be helpful in your situation
http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonynitti/2013/07/22/how-not-to-run-a-side-business-navigating-the-hobby-loss-rules/
as it discussed the difference between hobby and business activities.
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In order to make this determination, taxpayers should consider the following factors:
•Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
•Does the taxpayer depend on income from the activity?
•If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
•Has the taxpayer changed methods of operation to improve profitability?
•Does the taxpayer or his/her advisors have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
•Has the taxpayer made a profit in similar activities in the past?
•Does the activity make a profit in some years?
•Can the taxpayer expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?
Let me know if you need any help.

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