Congressional Democrats are sneaking through new reporting requirements that will increase tax complexity for independent contractors, small businesses, and freelancers. They have included this proposal in the 200 page manager’s amendment to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. This is another attempt by the Left to exploit the COVID-19 crisis by passing unrelated policy measures long desired by progressives.

The provision in question would lower the reporting threshold to $600 or more for 1099-K reporting and eliminates the transactions threshold. Currently, one is only required to report when there is more than $20,000 in sales and more than 200 transactions in a year. The proposal also extends the 1099-K reporting to “specified electronic payment processors.” 

This would impact freelancers and independent contractors including freelancers compensated via PayPal, Etsy sellers, Airbnb hosts, Uber and Lyft drivers, food delivery couriers, and others participating in the sharing economy.

This provision would end up harming low- and middle-income contractors, small businesses, and freelancers, many of which have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Implementing new, burdensome reporting rules will only do more damage. It is quite ironic that a provision like this may be included in the so-called “American Rescue Plan.” 

The House plans to vote on the stimulus package today, so Democrats are trying to rush these provisions through with no debate or public scrutiny.  

Democrats last enacted burdensome new 1099 reporting requirements in Obamacare, when they required businesses to send 1099 forms for all purchases of goods and services over $600 annually.

Soon after this provision was signed into law, the National Taxpayer Advocate raised concerns that these reporting requirements would cause “disproportionate” harm to small businesses and do little to improve tax compliance.

This provision was so unpopular that it was quickly repealed in 2011 with a bipartisan vote of 87 to 12 in the Senate and 314 to 112 in the House. The Obama administration even hailed repeal of the provision a “big win” for small businesses in a press release:  

“Today, President Obama signed a law that removes the expanded ‘1099’ reporting requirement from the Affordable Care Act. This is a big win for small businesses.

The SBA and President Obama supported repealing this provision, which would have required businesses to send 1099 forms for all purchases of goods and services over $600 annually. With this bipartisan effort, we have removed a requirement that would have been an undue barrier to small business growth.”

This provision being rushed through today is eerily similar to the Obamacare reporting requirement.

We should not make the same mistakes again. Expanding reporting requirements for 1099-K receivers will harm independent contractors, small businesses, and freelancers. Increasing compliance costs and the regulatory burden on already-struggling workers and small business owners is especially alarming given they have been disproportionately harmed by the pandemic.