How Do Uber Drivers Pay Taxes? Tax Tips for Rideshare Drivers

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How Do Uber Drivers Pay Taxes? Tax Tips for Rideshare Drivers

As more people become Uber drivers, we often hear the question, “How do Uber drivers pay taxes?” In this post, we’ll provide an Uber driver tax checklist that lets you know your tax liability, as well as some tax tips and deductions. While this is focused on Uber, many of these tips are applicable to Lyft drivers and other rideshare drivers.

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Uber Driver Tax Checklist

  • Know what taxes you have to pay
    • Uber will file IRS Form 1099-MISC and/or 1099-K with the IRS and your state tax agency if you were paid over $600 during the year
    • You’ll likely also have to pay estimated quarterly taxes
  • Keep track of your miles and expenses
    • The mileage deduction can save you major dollars at tax time but only if you have proper records
  • Know what deductions you can take
    • Along with the mileage deduction, there are a host of deductions that can minimize your tax bill
  • File the proper tax forms.

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Is Uber Self Employment?

Yes. When you drive for Uber, you are regarded as an independent contractor, not an employee. This means you’ll receive a 1099 form at the end of the year—employees receive a W-2.

Being an independent contractor can have a major impact on your tax bill. It can also have an impact on what deductions you can take to lower your tax liability.

While there are some legal challenges on whether Uber drivers should be employees, they will continue to be classified as independent contractors for the foreseeable future.

Do Uber Drivers Get A 1099?

Uber drivers are described as self-employed “partners” and fall under 1099 tax rules. For driver services, this falls under 1099-K rules and any other payouts would land under the 1099-MISC rules. These other payouts could include referral fees, bonuses and more. You can procure your needed Uber driver tax information by logging into your Uber partner portal.

How Do Uber Drivers Pay Taxes

Uber classifies its drivers as independent contractors. An independent contractor is a non-employee who is running their own business. Uber doesn’t provide you with any employee benefits like health insurance or vacation. It also doesn’t withhold any taxes from your compensation.

Every year, Uber will file IRS Form 1099-MISC and/or 1099-K with the IRS and your state tax agency reporting how much it paid you. This applies if you were paid over $600 during the year.

You need to report this income on your tax return and pay income tax and self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare tax) on the net profit you earn from your ridesharing business. Of course, you can deduct certain business expenses.

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Do You Have To Report Uber Income?

For the majority of you, the answer is “yes.” If your net earnings from Uber exceed $400, you must report that income. You will be required to file a Form 1040 and attach Schedule C and Schedule SE to report your Uber income.

If you’re not required to file an income tax return and your net earnings from Uber are less than $400, you aren’t required to report your Uber income.

I’m An Uber Driver. What Taxes Do I Pay?

Let’s say you are a sole proprietor. It’s how the vast majority of self-employed people, including Uber drivers, operate their businesses.

When you’re a sole proprietor, you and your business are one and the same for tax purposes. You don’t pay taxes or file tax returns separately for your sole proprietorship. Instead, you report the income you earn on your own personal tax return, IRS Form 1040.

To show whether you have a profit or loss from your sole proprietorship, you file IRS Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business, with your return. On this form you list all your business income and deductible expenses. You only pay tax on the profit you have left after you subtract all your expenses from your business income.

When you’re a sole proprietor, you must pay self-employment taxes on your net income. You have to also pay your income taxes, too. This is so even though you are of retirement age.

Self-employment taxes are the Social Security and Medicare taxes sole proprietors pay. When you’re an independent contractor, you have to pay all your Social Security and Medicare taxes out of your own pocket.

Uber won’t pay half of them for you (employers must pay half of these taxes for their employees, but not for contractors). These taxes are substantial: a flat 15.3 percent tax on your first $118,500 in net self-employment income (in 2015). You file IRS Form SE with your tax return to report and pay these taxes.

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What Expenses Can Uber Drivers Deduct? Can I Write Off My Car If I Drive For Uber?

It’s very important for you to keep track of all the deductible expenses you incur throughout the year, since they will decrease the amount of profit you’ll have to pay tax on.

Since your business is driving, your biggest deduction will be your car expenses. You can deduct these one of two ways: you can use the standard mileage rate and take a mileage deduction of 53.5 cents per business mile you drive (in 2017). Alternatively, you can deduct your actual expenses like gas, repairs, depreciation, lease expenses if you lease your car, etc..

The standard mileage rate is the most popular because it requires less record keeping. Whatever method you use, it is vital that you keep track of your business mileage. You can use a mileage tracking app like MileIQ or an old fashioned paper mileage log, which requires quite a bit of manual work.

Uber Driver Tax Checklist: A List Of Deductions Not To Miss

Other deductions for an Uber driver would typically include:

  • The cost of your iPhone or other cell phone (100 percent deductible if you use it just for business, otherwise you can deduct the business use percentage)
  • Water, candies, gum and other items you provide your passengers
  • Any extra insurance coverage you obtain for your business
  • Fees and commissions Uber charges you (however, don’t deduct any fees Uber takes directly from your pay and doesn’t include in the compensation listed on your 1099 form)
  • Home office deduction: You can qualify for this valuable deduction if you use a portion of your home exclusively for record keeping and other administrative tasks for your ridesharing business
  • Parking and tolls
  • Interest on a car loan, if you use the car for personal and business use, the business use percentage is deductible on Schedule C
  • PayPal and/or credit card transaction fees you pay.

You need to keep track of all of these and any other expenses you incur for your ride-sharing business. There are many accounting and tax preparation apps and software you can use to keep track of your expenses. You can even prepare your tax return yourself.

Do Uber Drivers Need to Pay Estimated Taxes?

Self-employed people are not allowed to wait until April 15 to pay all the income and self-employment (Social Security and Medicare) taxes they owe for the prior year. Instead, they are required to prepay their taxes by making estimated tax payments to the IRS four times per year.

You must pay estimated taxes if you expect to owe at least $1,000 in federal tax for the year from your ride-sharing business. You’ll probably need to earn a profit of at least $5,000 or $6,000 from your business to owe this much tax.

The IRS imposes modest interest penalties if you don’t pay enough estimated tax. To avoid the penalties, you must pay at least the smaller of:

  • 90 percent of your total tax due for the current year
  • 100 percent of the tax you paid the previous year or 110 percent if you’re a high-income taxpayer.

High-income taxpayers—those with adjusted gross income of more than $150,000 ($75,000 for married couples filing separate returns)—must pay 110 percent of their prior year’s income tax.

Quarterly Tax Payment Due Dates

Estimated tax must ordinarily be paid in four installments: April 15, June 15, September 15, January 15 (of the following year). Remember, you don’t have to start making payments until you actually earn income.

If you don’t receive any income by March 31, you can skip the April 15 payment. In this event, you’d ordinarily make three payments for the year starting on June 15. If you don’t receive any income by May 31, you can skip the June 15 payment as well and so on.

Income Received for the PeriodEstimated Tax Due Date
Jan. 1 through March 31April 18
April 1 through May 31June 15
June 1 through Aug. 31Sept. 15
Sept. 1 through Dec. 31Jan. 15 of the following year

You can pay by check, electronic payment, or even by credit card (but if you pay by credit card, you must pay a service fee to a private company). For details, check out IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.

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Stephen Fishman

Stephen Fishman

Stephen Fishman is a self-employed tax expert and regular contributor to MileIQ. He has dedicated his career as an attorney and author to writing useful, authoritative and recognized guides on taxes and business law for entrepreneurs, independent contractors, freelancers and other self-employed people. He is the author of over 20 books and hundreds of articles, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and many other publications. Visit Fishman Law and Tax Files for more information on his work.
Stephen Fishman

MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.