How to Handle Cash Payments for a Summer Job

May 31, 2016 : Sasha Drakulovic – The Tax Institute

School is finally out, and now that you have free time you can earn some money at a summer job. Every day at the end of your shift, your boss hands you a cash payment. How do you report this on your tax return?

Whether you are a server in a restaurant, a construction worker or a summer camp counselor, you must report that cash income on your tax return in the same way you would if you were paid by check or direct deposit. However, because this cash payment leaves no paper trail, you must use extra caution when you file your return.

If you’re an unmarried student who can’t be claimed as a dependent of your parent, you won’t have to file a tax return unless you make at least $10,350 of gross income in the entire year of 2016. If you have a different filing status, see Table 1 of IRS Publication 501 for your filing requirements.

Where do I report my payments?

How you will report these payments depends on whether you are an employee or an independent contractor.

If you are an employee, you report your cash payments for services on Form 1040, line 7 as wages. The IRS requires all employers to send a Form W-2 to every employee. However, because you are paid in cash, it is possible that your employer will not issue you a Form W-2. You should keep a record of how much you were paid during the year.

If instead you are an independent contractor, you will report this income on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ. You will be able to deduct your job related expenses from this income also. For example, if you did landscaping work and were self-employed, you will be able to claim supplies on Schedule C for your car use. Your employer only has to send a Form 1099-MISC reporting your income if they paid you more than $600 during the year. Just to be sure, you should keep records of all payments and expenses in case you do not receive Form 1099-MISC.

How do I pay Social Security and Medicare?

Even though you’re paid in cash, you still need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.

If you are an employee, your Social Security and Medicare taxes should have been withheld from your payments. This is referred to as FICA. However, as these are cash payments, this may have not happened. Employees who do not have taxes withheld nor remit them personally, are still liable for these taxes and may not qualify for Social Security, Medicare or unemployment benefits. If this happens to you, you should ask your employer for a W-2.

Note, however, that if you’re working for your parents or other family members and you’re under 18, your family won’t have to withhold FICA, but they will still have to report your wages to the IRS.

If you are an independent contractor, you will pay Social Security and Medicare taxes via self-employment tax, which is calculated on Schedule SE if you have a net amount of $400 or more.   Since you are self-employed, your employer won’t withhold these taxes and you must pay them as estimated taxes or on your return. However, you can deduct half of your self-employment tax against your income on line 27 of Form 1040.

What if I received tip income?

If your job includes tip income, you will have to fill out and provide your employer with Form 4070, Employee’s Report of Tips to Employer. You should use the Form 4070 to record on a daily basis all tips received, the amounts of tip-outs you paid, and the names of the other employees you paid the tip-outs to. This report is due on the 10th day of the month after the month the tips are received. For example, the tips you receive in July must be submitted to your employer on Form 4070 by August 10. This statement must be signed by you and must show the following:

  • Your name, address, and SSN.
  • Your employer’s name and address.
  • The month or period the report covers.
  • The total tips received.

You are not required to give this to your employer for months when your total tips are less than $20.

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Sasha Drakulovic – The Tax Institute

Sasha is a tax research analyst specializing in international tax issues and real property. She received her J.D. and LLM from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.