Teens & Taxes: My Teenager Took a Gig Job – Should He File His Taxes?


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Teenagers today have more options than ever to earn money. Whereas decades ago teens looking for gig work were often relegated to babysitting neighbors’ kids, landscaping or delivering newspapers, today’s teens can easily start their own business or take on a variety of side gigs for extra money.

See: Teens & Taxes: My teenager had a summer job – Should he declare his taxes?
Find: Teens and taxes: I received a child tax credit for my student – Do they have to file a tax return?

Teens looking to make money can complete online surveys, sell crafts on Etsy, sell items through Facebook Marketplace, manage social media for brands independently, and more.

But if your teen worked a side gig — or multiple side gigs — in 2021, you might be wondering if they have to file taxes this year.

Anyone who earns money in the United States as a self-employed (or gig worker) is responsible for reporting that income to the Internal Revenue Service. But if your net income as a gig worker is less than $400, you don’t have to pay tax on that money, although you still have to report that income. If your teen worked on the side, they’ll have to file their taxes, no matter how much or how little they earned. The rules are the same regardless of the taxpayer’s age.

Additionally, taxpayers who have earned more than $400 in self-employment income—after any allowable business deductions—are responsible for paying self-employment taxes on that amount.

Learn: Teens and taxes: How to help your teen choose and open a bank account this tax season
Explore: Teens and taxes: Does your teen have to file taxes for their part-time job?

If your teen has taken online surveys or worked in another age-appropriate position where they reported directly to a company, the company will send your teen a Form 1099 (or Form W9) if they have earned more than $600 in 2021. Receiving a 1099 makes filing your taxes easier because your teen has documents showing exactly how much they earned. However, they should still keep track of their income to ensure the amount on the Form 1099 (or Form W9) is correct.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketer with interests in finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. His long list of publishing credits includes Bankrate, Lending Tree and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology and entertainment website. She lives in Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten and three lizards of different sizes and personalities – plus her two children and her husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.

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