How to File Your Taxes for Uber, Lyft and Other Popular Gig Apps


Tax Day is closing in, and the burden for gig workers is a little heavier because you’re considered independent contractors — not employees — of the popular app-based companies you work for.

By Jan. 31, you should have received the necessary tax information, on paper, digitally or both, to start on your self-employed tax return. (If you haven’t received anything yet, contact the companies). 

Depending on whom you work for, you may not receive any physical documents at all. 

Luke Richardson, a certified public accountant and tax instructor at the University of South Florida says that it’s possible — “even probable” — for gig workers to mistakenly think they don’t have to file if they don’t receive any tax documents. 

Don’t be fooled: You’re still responsible for reporting your gig work income.

“You must file a tax return if you have net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more from gig work, even if it’s a side job, part-time or temporary,” according to the IRS’s new gig economy tax center.

Here’s a rundown of the tax forms you’ll need to use as a gig worker – plus a look at the tax policies of five of the most popular gig app companies: DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Lyft and Uber.

Common Tax Forms for Gig Workers

In the eyes of the IRS, you’re a self-employed worker. That means it’s up to you to compile the appropriate tax forms and accurately report your income.

Common Income Forms Sent to You 

Companies that paid you more than $600 in a calendar year should physically mail you a 1099, as required by law. If you work across multiple apps, it’s possible you will receive a 1099 from each company. And if you work for Uber or Lyft, you may receive two different types of 1099.

“This does not mean that payments under $600 are not taxable,” Richardson said.

The 1099-MISC, short for miscellaneous income, is a fairly straightforward document that includes your basic identifying information plus 19 boxes for various types of income. 

On the 1099-MISC, Look for your wages in box No. 7. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

As a rideshare or delivery driver, the box you need is No. 7, “nonemployee compensation.” For most gig apps, that box will include your gross earnings for the past calendar year. The other income boxes will likely be empty.

There are exceptions, mainly for Uber and Lyft drivers. Both companies use the 1099-MISC form, but the amount they list in box No. 7 is not your total income. Uber and Lyft put earnings only from bonuses, promotions, referrals and any other non-driver services in this box. The bulk of your income is reported on a separate form.

The 1099-K form is favored by Uber and Lyft. However, you will receive this form only if you completed more than 200 transactions (read: rides) and earned more than $20,000 during the previous calendar year.

If you receive a 1099-K, your app income will be located in box 1a. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

If you receive the 1099-K, the primary box you’re looking for is No. 1a, “gross amount of payment card/third-party network transactions.” That’s jargon for “net income from Uber or Lyft.” Boxes No. 5a through 5l are also useful. They will break down your net income month-by-month.

Let’s say you’re an Uber or Lyft driver who earned $19,000 last year. You probably qualify for the 1099-MISC, not the 1099-K. Your MISC may show only $750 but your bank account says you earned $19,000 from driving. What do you do? Report the full amount. Both companies compile an unofficial tax summaries (more on them later). Refer to those numbers – not just the small figure on the 1099-MISC – to file your return. 

Pro Tip

Most Uber and Lyft drivers don’t meet the 1099-K threshold and won’t receive this form. Again, even if they don’t send you the form, you are still responsible for reporting your earnings.

Tax Return Forms You Send to the IRS

After you’ve tracked down all your 1099s and tallied up your net income, your next step is to get that number as low as possible by subtracting any and all applicable business expenses and deductions.

Review our freelance and side hustle tax guide for more details on what deductions you may qualify for as a self-employed worker – and what to do if you need to file quarterly.

As a gig worker, may need to file the following tax forms with the IRS:

  • Form 1040: This is now the main form used by all U.S. taxpayers to file an annual income tax return. (Forms 1040S and 1040EZ are no longer available.)
  • Schedule C: is a sub-form of the 1040 used to tally up your profit and loss as an independent contractor. Line No. 1 is where you report gross income from all 1099s or from the income summary provided in your gig app. The subsequent boxes are examples of business expenses you may use to lower your taxable income. Line No. 31 is your net profit, a number you’ll need for the Schedule SE.
  • Schedule SE: This is another 1040 sub-form for self-employed (gig) workers. Use it to calculate your 15.3% self-employment tax obligation.
  • Schedule 2: is an “additional tax form,” i.e. where you provide the amount you owe in self-employment taxes from the SE form above. Put that figure on line No. 4 and the grand total on line No. 10.
  • Form 1040-ES: Use this form, instead of the standard 1040 if you need to file quarterly taxes.

You must file a tax return if you have net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more from gig work, even if it’s a side job, part-time or temporary.

Tax Policies and Resources of 5 Popular Apps

What forms you receive and what tax service you choose to file with depends on the company you’re working for. Each company has slightly different tax policies and may offer discounts for different tax-filing software services. Here’s how they stack up.

DoorDash

DoorDash partners with Payable.com to keep track of your tax information electronically and should send you an invite via email to set up your Payable account before the end of January.

If you don’t set up a Payable account, you can’t access your tax information online. By default, DoorDash will mail your tax form to the address associated with your Dasher account, unless you specify otherwise.

Review DoorDash’s tax FAQ or the company email for more information about Payable. If you do not receive your 1099, contact DoorDash customer support.

Primary tax form: 1099-MISC.

Who: Dashers who earned more than $600 the previous calendar year.

How: Electronic and paper form.

Grubhub

If you’re a Grubhub driver, you can access your 1099-MISC online, as long as you’ve met the income threshold of $600. The company doesn’t compile an annual tax summary for you.

Instead, your last eight monthly summaries are listed on the driver’s app. If you haven’t saved copies of them throughout the year, you may miss out on company-provided tax information from the early months of the last year.

According to the Grubhub’s tax FAQs, it mails your 1099-MISC on Jan. 31, meaning you likely won’t receive it until mid February. If you can’t access your 1099 online, or if it doesn’t arrive by Feb. 15, Grubhub recommends contacting support at [email protected] or at 888-831-5729.

Primary tax form: 1099-MISC.

Who: Grubhub drivers who earned more than $600 the previous calendar year.

How: Electronic and paper form.

Lyft

According to Lyft’s tax site for drivers, the company partners with TurboTax to provide free self-employed tax-filing services. Live help from TurboTax’s CPAs is discounted 50%.

Lyft is one of the two main gig apps that uses the 1099-K form, which means the majority of your earnings from fares will be reported on that form – not the 1099-MISC. It’s more likely that you will receive a 1099-MISC, and the income on that form will be much lower than your total gross earnings. You still need to report the remainder of your income not included on the MISC.

To access your tax documents online, log in to your driver dashboard and click the “Tax Information” tab. There, you’ll be able to view your 1099-MISC, 1099-K and an unofficial tax summary document compiled by Lyft. The tax summary displays your net earnings and is especially useful if you don’t meet the thresholds for either 1099 form.

Primary tax forms: 1099-MISC and 1099-K.

Who: Lyft drivers who earned more than $600 from bonuses and referrals (1099-MISC); those who completed more than 200 fares and earned more than $20,000 (1099-K). Everyone else should report net income from the app’s tax summary.

How: Electronic and paper form.

Postmates

Postmates partners with Stride to help manage your taxes through Stride’s tax app. You won’t be able to file through Stride, but the app does help track mileage and expenses.

If you’ve met the $600 annual income threshold, Postmates should send you a 1099-MISC either online, electronically or both. The company doesn’t compile an annual tax summary for you, rather it recommends you refer back to your emailed weekly tax reports.

If you’re having issues accessing your 1099 or haven’t received it on time, report your tax issue to Postmates.

Primary tax form: 1099-MISC.

Who: Postmates who earned more than $600 the previous calendar year.

How: Electronic and physical form.

Uber

Like Lyft, Uber partners with TurboTax to provide free self-employed tax-filing services – plus a 50% discount for live chats with TurboTax’s CPAs. 

Uber – also like Lyft – prefers the 1099-K form. As an Uber rideshare or delivery driver, you’re more likely to meet the $600 threshold for the 1099-MISC form. Remember, the gross earnings reported on the MISC are only for things like promotions and referrals. The rest of your gross income is reported on the 1099-K, if you qualify, or in Uber’s online tax summary document.

You can view your tax summary on or after Jan. 31, via the tax information tab of your partner dashboard. You should have access to Uber’s tax summary even if you haven’t met the income thresholds for either 1099 forms.

Primary tax forms: 1099-MISC and 1099-K.

Who: Uber drivers who earned more than $600 from bonuses and referrals (1099-MISC); those who completed more than 200 fares and earned more than $20,000 (1099-K). Everyone else should report net income from the app’s tax summary.

How: Electronic and paper form.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.





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