New IRS rule for cash app transactions set to go into effect next year

Feds cracking down business income reporting
Posted at 1:09 PM, Oct 13, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Changes are coming for those who use cash apps like Venmo, Zelle or PayPal for business transactions.

A new rule from the IRS will take effect on January 1, 2021, allowing them to take a closer look at cash app business transactions of more than $600.

Those who use cash apps for personal use won't be impacted. But where the line gets blurry is when self-employed workers use the same cash app account for both personal and business transactions.

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In a mostly cash-less world, it's easy to use cash apps to make everyday payments. Margarita Murphy uses Zelle regularly, including for big expenses.

"I actually pay rent through it for my apartment, so that's over $600," Murphy said.

Margarita Murphy, uses cash apps for transactions
Margarita Murphy says she uses cash app transactions to pay her rent.

The IRS won't be cracking down on personal transactions, but a new law will require cash apps like Venmo, Zelle and Paypal to report aggregate business transactions of $600 or more to the IRS. The previous threshold was $20,000.

"From $20,000 to $600 — I'm just trying to figure out what kind of consumers they are trying to sort of catch," said Sofia Johan, an associate professor of finance at Florida Atlantic University.

Johan said the IRS is trying to bridge a tax gap of billions of dollars from lack of taxpayer compliance in reporting.

"Is it worth it to go after these players, or these consumers, who are generally transferring a few hundred dollars on a monthly basis? So, I'm just thinking about the cost-benefit here," Johan said.

Will there be a differentiation of payments received from personal or business use? It is already obscure for even cash apps to discern when transaction memos are sometimes only written in emojis.

Sofia Johan, an associate professor of finance at Florida Atlantic University
Professor Sofia Johan speaks about the IRS changing rules for cash app transactions.

"What they are trying to do is just have data available in the event they do identify certain taxpayers where their information may not necessarily tally up, so they will back up onto the cash payments," Johan said.

She advises those who run a business and use cash apps to keep a good record of all taxable transactions and those that are not. Making a separate account for business transactions is recommended.

"It can get complicated, and people make a lot of side hustles through it, and it'd be a shame to lose that small business aspect," Murphy said.

Those who fall into the $600 or more on income in cash apps will receive a 1099-K form.

Current tax law requires anyone to pay taxes on income of more than $600, but taxes do not apply to personal transactions like meal reimbursements.

This story was originally published by Michelle Quesada on Scripps station WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida.