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NASE Releases New Survey Data On Sharing Economy

The new survey finds that an overwhelming majority of those who responded – 69 percent – have not receive any tax guidance from the shared economy platform they are working with. In fact, the data underscores the importance of educating shared-economy entrepreneurs about the fact that they, too, are operating a self-employed, small business.

Those participating in the sharing economy are self-employed, small business owners and are operating a legitimate business because they are subject to a specific set of tax obligations, business regulations, reporting requirements while expressing behavioral traits of the self-employed, such as working when you want, for as long as you want, being your own boss and others. Despite engaging in the sharing economy for a fixed and/or limited amount of time to achieve a pre-determined goal (i.e, pay off debt, increase personal cash flow, secure income during full time unemployment), it is important they think of their activity as a business (a self-employed, small business, to be specific).

During March 2016, the survey was sent to over 40,000 small businesses garnering over 500 responses from small business owners, mainly the self-employed, about their participation in the sharing economy. Some of the key findings include:

  • A majority of those who responded – 69 percent – did not receive any tax guidance from the shared economy platform they worked with;
  • An overwhelming majority of over 90 percent indicated they used a professional tax preparer or software to prepare their taxes;
  • Of those who used a professional tax preparer or software, over 50 percent paid over $150;
  • The results were evenly split between those who set aside money to pay their 2015 tax bills and those who did not.

Bottom-line: those who participate in the sharing economy are small business owners part of the largest and growing small business demographic: the self-employed. This comes with a host of tax liability, obligations and responsibilities.

Katie Vlietstra is NASE’s Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs

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