Taxing Your eBay Profits

As a small business person-slash-advice columnist I dread the first quarter of the new year. Not because in my mind my own business fortunes start at zero again every January or because I have already dismissed every New Year's resolution I made when the clock rang out the New Year.

No, the reason I dread the first quarter of the new year is that my email box floods with questions about business taxes and the IRS, my two least favorite subjects on earth. It's not that I am opposed to paying my fair share of business taxes. It's that I consider the IRS to be a little like Beetlejuice, the movie demon who appeared only after his name was called three times in a row. My fear is if I write too many IRS columns their dark agents may appear on my doorstep, ready to drag me away to an uncertain fate.

Oh well, one must do his duty no matter the consequences, so here we go?.

Q: I am starting a small retail business. While talking to a potential supplier last week he asked for my EIN number. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I told him I would have to get back with him because I didn't have the number handy. What is an EIN number and why do I need one? -- Robert P.

A: Robert, do you remember the old Johnny Rivers song "Secret Agent Man?" There was a line that said, "They're giving you a number and taking away your name." An EIN isn't as cool as a secret agent number, but it works much the same way when it comes to your business' relationship with the IRS. Instead of identifying your business by name, the IRS identifies your business by EIN.

EIN stands for Employer Identification Number and is also known as a federal tax ID number. The EIN is a nine-digit number that the IRS assigns to businesses and is used to identify taxpayers that are required to file various business tax returns.

Does your business need an EIN? According to the IRS the answer is yes if:

· Your business has employees

· Your business is a corporation or partnership

· You file returns for Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tax

· You withhold taxes on income (other than wages) paid to a non-resident alien.

· Your business has a Keogh plan

· Your business involves trust, estate, real estate mortgage investment conduits, non-profit, farmers' cooperatives, or plan administrators.

Applying for an EIN is a relatively painless task. You can apply online at the IRS website (irs.gov), apply by mail or telephone, or if you do business in a state that participates in the Federal Employer Identification Number project you can apply through you local IRS office (sorry, Alabama is not one of them).

You will need an EIN number prior to filing business returns with the IRS, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to obtain one. For more information on EINs and your business, consult your accountant.

And while we're on the subject ?

Q: I made extra money selling things on eBay last year. These were items I picked up at yardsales mostly. My husband says I am responsible for paying income tax on the money I made, but I disagree. This is just my hobby, not a business. What do you think? -- Gladys A.

A: With so many people selling on eBay these days this is a question I get quite a bit. In fact, I have plans for a future "eBay and taxes" column, but I believe your question is more, "is it a hobby or is it a business?"

Again, I went to the horse's mouth (at least I think it was the mouth) for the answer. According to the IRS there are a number of factors that help determine if your hobby can be considered a business and thereby make you susceptible to the IRS tax rules governing business.

Do you carry on the activity in a business-like manner? If you conduct your eBay activities like a business, i.e. you keep business records, track your profit and loss, keep a separate checking account, etc. then whether you think so or not, your hobby is considered a business.

If you put considerable time and effort into your venture, the IRS may contend that you do so for profit and not fun. It seems the folks at the IRS don't believe in doing things strictly for pleasure. My guess is, neither do you. If you weren't making money selling on eBay I doubt you'd be bothering getting up at 4am to hit all those yardsales. Then again, maybe you would?

If you depend on income from your eBay activities for your livelihood, it's a business, not a hobby.

There are a number of other factors the IRS considers to determine if a hobby is really a business, but in your case I think that covers the basics.

For detailed answers to any tax question you should consult a qualified accountant or tax attorney. God forbid you rely on a guy who is afraid to mumble the letters "IRS" three times in a row.

Small Business Q&A is written by veteran entrepreneur and syndicated columnist, Tim Knox. Tim's latest books include "Small Business Success Secrets" and "The 30 Day Blueprint For Success!" Related Links: http://www.smallbusinessqa.com http://www.dropshipwholesale.net

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Boris Becker auctions off Wimbledon trophy, jewellery and even his socks as he faces divorce bill  The SunBORIS Becker is flogging memorabilia including his Wimbledon trophy, socks and jewellery as he faces a divorce bill. The three-time tennis champ is hoping the ...
CoreLogic: Auctions "evidence that housing conditions are stabilising"  MacroBusinessCoreLogic recorded a strengthening trend in auction clearance rates over the June quarter – the last time the result was this strong was back in June 2018.
Steve Locke Withdraws Proposal for Slave Auction Block Memorial in Boston -  ARTnewsThe artist Steve Locke is withdrawing a plan to install a memorial slave-auction block at the historic Faneuil Hall marketplace in Boston, citing the NAACP's ...
Italy to hold first 500 MW renewables auction on September 30  pv magazine InternationalAccording to the new auction schedule approved by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, three more renewables procurement exercises will be held ...
Quinn thriller goes to Orion for six figures after seven-way auction  The BooksellerOrion has secured a thriller by Brighton-based journalist Catherine Quinn through a “significant six-figure” deal following a seven-way auction.
Wonka bar and Golden Ticket fetch £15,000 at auction  BBC NewsThe props belonged to Veruca Salt in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
US Treasury yields tick higher as investors await Fed speeches, auctions  CNBCU.S. government debt yields rose Tuesday as investors awaited Fed speeches and a *fresh* batch of economic data. U.S. Markets Overview: Treasurys chart ...
CGC and EBAY Team Up to Ensure Authenticity of Collectible Auctions  NewsaramaCollectible grading authority CGC has teamed with online auction site eBay to offer grading services for comic books and other collectibles sold through the site.
1999 Women’s World Cup soccer memorabilia up for auction  The Boston GlobeTwenty years after the United States won its first FIFA Women's World Cup championship, some memorabilia from the team's historic victory is being put up for ...
What do I bid? What do I bid?: Platform launched to automate shipping for auction houses and bidders  FreightWavesA platform was rolled out on Tuesday that automates the shipping process for auction houses and bidders of high end items.
Sununu Auctions Copy Of His Paid Family Leave Veto At Republican Fundraiser  New Hampshire Public RadioGovernor Chris Sununu rallied Republicans on July 4th by playing auctioneer and selling off memorabilia of a veto. At a time when the governor says he's.
Slave Auction Memorial at Faneuil Hall Cancelled – Because Some Want 'Faneuil' Gone | NewBostonPost  NewBostonPostJuly 18, 2019. A planned memorial to slave auctions outside Faneuil Hall has been cancelled because of opposition to the project from those who want to ...
Olivia Newton-John visits Ireland ahead of charity 'Grease' auction  IrishCentralOlivia Newton-John will be in Ireland next week for an exhibit previewing some of her famous items set to be auctioned for charity.
Government Seeks Over $1 Billion Investment With New Oil Block Auction  NDTV NewsThe government awarded 32 blocks in the latest two exploration licensing rounds called the open acreage licensing policy.
Gay Art Auctions: Does the Label Help or Hurt an Artist’s Market?  BloombergThree separate auctions are creating a new LGBTQ art category.
300 classic cars, $4 million in expected sales – TV-like auto auction coming to Lincoln  Lincoln Journal StarThis won't be your typical Nebraska auto auction, with bidders shuffling from car to car inside a barn or across a bean field.
Melbourne auctions: One-bedroom East Melbourne dump soars $292,000 over reserve  Domain NewsA derelict one-bedroom apartment in East Melbourne with knockout views over the city smashed its reserve by $292,000 at a hot auction on Saturday.
Walter Becker: Steely Dan Co-Founder’s Guitars, Sound Equipment Head to Auction  Rolling StoneA collection of music gear belonging to Walter Becker, the late co-founder, guitarist and co-songwriter of Steely Dan, will be up for sale via Julien's Auctions ...
Manchester hotel most popular online property auction listing  BuyAssociationOnline property auctions are an increasingly popular way of buying and selling, and one hotel in Manchester's Trafford area has created a bidding war.
Neil Armstrong’s passport and rare pink sapphires for auction this week  The Irish TimesSales results and forthcoming auctions.
What Should Happen to Confederate Statues? A City Auctions One for $1.4 Million  The New York TimesThe debate over whether to remove Confederate monuments divided the country. The question of what to do with them next is just as complicated.
Pink Floyd's David Gilmour Auctions Off 126 Guitars and Raises $21 Million for Climate Change Battle  Good News NetworkEarlier this week, legendary Pink Floyd guitarist and songwriter David Gilmour auctioned off dozens of his guitars – and he sold them all so he could donate the ...
Broadband forum seeks lower 5G spectrum prices, change in auction design  Economic TimesThe broadband industry bodys comments mirror those of telcos and other associations who have protested against the regulators price points for upcoming 5G ...
Caulfield auction: dated house sparks epic hour-long auction  NEWS.com.auA dated Caulfield home has sold in an epic auction that stretched an hour and 10 minutes, leaving the auctioneer feeling faint afterwards.
Mexico auctions drug lords' properties to fund poor communities  BBC NewsMoney raised from the sale will benefit poor communities but only nine out of 27 properties sold.

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