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IRS Sex workers taxes

Taxpayers: File when ready, don’t wait until October 17 to file a 2021 tax return

For people who requested an IRS extension to file, the October 17, 2022, deadline may seem far away, but it’s coming up fast. Taxpayers who haven’t filed, whether they requested an extension or not, should file a complete and accurate return as soon as possible. For people who have all their paperwork in hand, filing sooner and filing electronically could help them avoid possible processing delays later.
Here are some resources and information to help taxpayers avoid getting caught up in a last-minute filing rush.
Resources for people preparing their tax return
• IRS.gov The IRS webpage has tools and resources to help taxpayers and answer FAQs.
• Online Account Access individual account information to get info from the most recently filed tax return, including adjusted gross income, Economic Impact Payments and advance child tax credit payments.
• Interactive Tax Assistant Taxpayers can enter their info to get answers for their specific tax situation. This tool can determine if an individual must file a tax return, their filing status, if they can claim a dependent, if an income type is taxable, and their eligibility to claim a credit or deduct certain expenses.
• Tax professionals Tax pros can also help taxpayers prepare their tax returns. Authorized IRS e-file providers are qualified to prepare, transmit and process e-filed returns. Taxpayers should choose a tax preparer wisely. The IRS online directory can help people find a local tax pro.
Taxpayers can file electronically for the fastest turnaround.
E-filing is fast, accurate and secure. When taxpayers choose direct deposit, their refund goes directly into their bank account. The IRS processes most e-filed returns and issues direct deposit refunds in less than 21 days.
• IRS Free File Eligible individuals can use the IRS Free File program to prepare and file their 2021 federal tax return for free. Taxpayers can choose the brand-name tax preparation software company that is best for them. Some companies even offer free state tax return preparation. Those who earned more than $73,000 have the option to use IRS Free File Fillable Forms.
• MilTax online software MilTax online software is also available for members of the military and certain veterans, regardless of income. This software is offered through the Department of Defense.
• Commercial software The software uses a question-and-answer format that makes doing taxes easier. The return is signed electronically and transmitted through IRS-approved electronic channels.
An extension to file a tax return is not an extension to pay taxes.
Taxpayers who owe taxes can review all payment options online. The IRS has options for people who can’t pay their taxes, including applying for a payment plan on IRS.gov. Here are some other things to know:
• Generally, there’s no penalty for not filing a return if due a refund, but there’s also no statute of limitations for assessing and collecting taxes due if no return has been filed.
• Interest is charged on any tax not paid by the April due date and will accrue until paid in full. Penalties will accrue for each month tax remains unpaid until maxed out at 25% of the unpaid tax.
• Submitting a tax return and paying the amount owed as soon as possible can help taxpayers avoid further interest and penalties.

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IRS Sex workers taxes

It’s important for taxpayers to know the difference between standard and itemized deductions

It’s important for taxpayers to know the difference between standard and itemized deductions
Taxpayers have two options when completing a tax return, take the standard deduction or itemize their deductions. Most taxpayers use the option that gives them the lowest overall tax.
Due to all the tax law changes in the recent years, including increases to the standard deduction, people who itemized in the past might want to switch to the standard deduction.
Here are some details about the two options.
Standard deduction
The standard deduction amount increases slightly every year and varies by filing status. The standard deduction amount depends on the taxpayer’s filing status, whether they are 65 or older or blind, and whether another taxpayer can claim them as a dependent. Taxpayers who are age 65 or older on the last day of the year and don’t itemize deductions are entitled to a higher standard deduction.
Most filers who use Form 1040 can find their standard deduction on the first page of the form. The standard deduction for most filers of Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors, is on page 4 of that form.
Not all taxpayers can take a standard deduction, which is discussed in the Instructions for Forms 1040 and 1040-SR. Those taxpayers include:
• A married individual filing as married filing separately whose spouse itemizes deductions—if one spouse itemizes on a separate return, both must itemize.
• An individual who files a tax return for a period of less than 12 months. This is uncommon and could be due to a change in their annual accounting period.
• An individual who was a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien during the year. However, nonresident aliens who are married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien can take the standard deduction in certain situations.
Itemized deductions
Taxpayers choose to itemize deductions by filing Schedule A, Form 1040, Itemized Deductions. Itemized deductions that taxpayers may claim include:
• State and local income or sales taxes
• Real estate and personal property taxes
• Home mortgage interest
• Mortgage insurance premiums on a home mortgage
• Personal casualty and theft losses from a federally declared disaster
• Gifts to a qualified charity
• Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income
Some itemized deductions, such as the deduction for taxes, may be limited. Taxpayers should review the instructions for Schedule A Form 1040 for more information on limitations.

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Sex workers

Some important things all taxpayers should do before the tax year ends

The IRS reminds taxpayers there are things they should do before the current tax year ends on Dec.31.
Donate to charity
Taxpayers may be able to deduct donations to tax-exempt organizations on their tax return. As people are deciding where to make their donations, the IRS has a tool that may help. Tax Exempt Organization Search on IRS.gov allows users to search for charities. It provides information about an organization’s federal tax status and filings.
The law now permits taxpayers to claim a limited deduction on their 2021 federal income tax returns for cash contributions they made to certain qualifying charitable organizations even if they don’t itemize their deductions. Taxpayers, including married individuals filing separate returns, can claim a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions to qualifying charities during 2021. The maximum deduction is $600 for married individuals filing joint returns.
Most cash donations made to charity qualify for the deduction. However, there are some exceptions. Cash contributions include those made by check, credit card or debit card as well as unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses in connection with volunteer services to a qualifying charitable organization.
Check Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
An ITIN only needs to be renewed if it has expired and is needed on a U.S. federal tax return.
If an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number was not included on a U.S. federal tax return at least once for tax years 2018, 2019 and 2020, the ITIN will expire on Dec. 31, 2021.
As a reminder, ITINs with middle digits 70 through 88 have expired. In addition, ITINs with middle digits 90 through 99, if assigned before 2013, have expired. Individuals who previously submitted a renewal application that was approved, do not need to renew again.
Find information about retirement plans
IRS.gov has end-of-year tax information about retirement plans. This includes resources for individuals about retirement planning, contributions and withdrawals.
Contribute salary deferral
Taxpayers can make a salary deferral to a retirement plan. This helps maximize the tax credit available for eligible contributions. Taxpayers should make sure their total salary deferral contributions do not exceed the
$19,500 limit for 2021.
Get banked and set up direct deposit
Direct deposit gives taxpayers access to their refund faster than a paper check. Those without a bank account can learn how to open an account at an FDIC-Insured bank or through the National Credit Union Locator Tool.
Veterans should see the Veterans Benefits Banking Program for access to financial services at participating banks.
Connect with the IRS
Taxpayers can use social media to get the latest tax and filing tips from the IRS. The IRS shares information on things like tax changes, scam alerts, initiatives, tax products and taxpayer services. These social media tools are available in different languages, including English, Spanish and American Sign Language.
Think about tax refunds
Taxpayers should be careful not to expect getting a refund by a certain date. This is especially true for those who plan to use their refund to make major purchases or pay bills. Just as each tax return is unique to the individual, so is each taxpayer’s refund. Taxpayers can take steps now to Get Ready to file their federal tax return in 2022.

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IRS Sex workers taxes

Here’s how businesses can deduct startup costs from their federal taxes

When starting a business, owners should treat all eligible costs incurred before beginning to operate the business as capital expenditures that are part of their basis in the business. Generally, the business can recover costs for assets through depreciation deductions.

For costs paid or incurred after September 8, 2008, the business can deduct a limited amount of start-up and organizational costs. They can recover the costs they cannot deduct currently over a 180-month period. This recovery period starts with the month the business begins to operate active trade or as a business.
Business start-up costs
Start-up costs are amounts the business paid or incurred for creating an active trade or business, or investigating the creation or acquisition of an active trade or business. Start-up costs include amounts paid or incurred in connection with an existing activity engaged in for profit, and to produce income in anticipation of the activity becoming an active trade or business.
Qualifying costs
A start-up cost is recoverable if it meets both of the following requirements:
• It’s a cost a business could deduct if they paid or incurred it to operate an existing active trade or business, in the same field as the one the business entered into.
• It’s a cost a business pays or incurs before the day their active trade or business begins.
Start-up costs include amounts paid for the following:
• An analysis or survey of potential markets, products, labor supply, transportation facilities, etc.
• Advertisements for the opening of the business.
• Salaries and wages for employees who are being trained and their instructors.
• Travel and other necessary costs for securing prospective distributors, suppliers, or customers.
• Salaries and fees for executives and consultants, or for similar professional services.
Nonqualifying costs
Start-up costs don’t include deductible interest, taxes, or research and experimental costs.
Purchasing an active trade or business
Recoverable start-up costs for purchasing an active trade or business include only investigative costs incurred during a general search for or preliminary investigation of the business. These are costs that help in deciding whether to purchase a business. Costs incurred to purchase a specific business are capital expenses that can’t be amortized.

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IRS Sex workers taxes

Get a federal tax refund faster with direct deposit

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminds taxpayers that the fastest way to get their tax refund is by filing electronically and choosing direct deposit.
Direct deposit is free, fast, simple, safe and secure. Taxpayers can even split their refund to have it deposited into one, two or three different accounts.
Eight out of 10 taxpayers get their refunds by using direct deposit. The IRS uses the same electronic transfer system to deposit tax refunds that is used by other federal agencies to deposit nearly 98% of all Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits into millions of accounts.
Direct deposit also avoids the possibility that a refund check could be lost or stolen or returned to the IRS as undeliverable. And it saves taxpayer money. It costs more than $1 for every paper refund issued, but only a dime for each direct deposit.
Easy to use
A taxpayer simply selects direct deposit as the refund method when using tax software or working with a tax preparer, and either they or their tax preparer type in their account and routing number. It’s important to double check entries to avoid errors.
The IRS reminds taxpayers they should only deposit refunds directly into U.S. affiliated accounts that are in their name, their spouse’s name or both if it’s a joint account. Many people do not use checks and may find their routing and account numbers on their online bank account or mobile app.
Taxpayers may have a refund applied to their prepaid debit card. Many reloadable prepaid cards have account and routing numbers that could be provided to the IRS. But check with the financial institution to make sure the card can be used and verify the routing number and account number, which may be different from the card number.
There are mobile apps that may allow for direct deposit of tax refunds. They must have routing and account numbers associated with them that can be entered on a tax return. Check with the mobile app provider to confirm what numbers to use.
Have the bank routing and account number when having taxes prepared. The IRS does not have the ability to accept this information after a return is filed.
Don’t have a bank account?
Visit the FDIC website for information on where to find a bank that can open an account online and how to choose the right account. Veterans can use the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) for access to financial services at participating banks. Tax return preparers may also offer electronic payment options.
Split refunds
By using direct deposit, a taxpayer can split their refund into up to three financial accounts, including a bank or Individual Retirement Account. Part of the refund can even be used to purchase up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I Savings Bonds.
A taxpayer can split their refund by using tax software or by using Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (including Savings Bond Purchases), if they file a paper return. Some people use split refunds as a convenient option for managing their money, sending some of their refund to an account for immediate use and some for future savings.
No more than three electronic tax refunds can be deposited into a single financial account or prepaid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will receive an IRS notice and a paper refund will be issued for the refunds exceeding that limit.
Combining Electronic Filing plus direct deposit yields fastest refunds
The safest and most accurate way to file a tax return is to file electronically. Many people may be eligible to file electronically for Free. Most refunds are issued in less than 21 days, but some returns may take longer. Taxpayers can track their refund using “Where’s My Refund?” on IRS.gov or by downloading the IRS2Go mobile app.
“Where’s My Refund?” is updated once daily, usually overnight, so there’s no reason to check more than once per day or call the IRS to get information about a refund. Taxpayers can check “Where’s My Refund?” within 24 hours after the IRS has received their e-filed return or four weeks after mailing a paper return. “Where’s My Refund?” has a tracker that displays progress through three stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved, and (3) Refund Sent.

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IRS Sex workers taxes

IRS extends Economic Impact Payment registration deadline for non-filers to Nov. 21

The deadline to register for an Economic Impact Payment using the Non-Filers tool is extended to November 21, 2020.

The IRS urges people who don’t typically file a tax return – and haven’t received an Economic Impact Payment – to register as quickly as possible using the Non-Filers: Enter Info Here tool on IRS.gov. The tool will not be available after November 21.
This additional time is solely for those who haven’t registered or received their EIP and don’t normally file a tax return. For taxpayers who requested an extension of time to file their 2019 tax return, that deadline is Thursday, October 15.
Most eligible U.S. taxpayers automatically received their Economic Impact Payment. Others who don’t have a filing obligation need to use the Non-Filers tool to register with the IRS to get up to $1,200. Typically, this includes people who receive little or no income.
The Non-Filers tool is secure. It is designed for people with incomes typically below $24,400 for married couples, and $12,200 for singles who could not be claimed as a dependent by someone else. This includes couples and individuals who are experiencing homelessness.
Anyone using the Non-Filers tool can speed up the arrival of their payment by choosing to receive it by direct deposit. Those not choosing this option will get a check.
Beginning two weeks after they register, people can track the status of their payment using the Get My Payment tool, available only on IRS.gov.

 

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IRS Sex workers taxes

Here’s What Happens If You Don’t Do Your Taxes

You, yes you, can do your taxes this year. Many of you are done, most of you haven’t started, and a few of you are freaking out. Some of you are thinking: what if I just don’t file? What will happen if I don’t pay? What if I didn’t file last year or the year before that? What will they do to me and will I be in prison with Wesley Snipes?

I have some answers to those questions! You should note that I am not a tax professional, that this is definitely not professional advice and that every situation is unique. Also you should be doing your taxes right now probably, not reading the Internet. But here’s some experience, offered person-to-person, that is not professional counsel.

It is better to do a cruddy job and file than to not file.
When I say “cruddy job,” I don’t mean “making wild guesstimations” or being dishonest. I mean: If you can’t nail some stuff down, forget about it and move on. For instance: Do you not have receipts for some expenses? Big deal: cut them out and forget about it. (These small expense-deductions don’t generally have too much effect on your tax burden anyway.) Err on the side of “hurting” yourself and just plow through it. It’s just not worth making yourself crazy over fifteen bucks!

You can fix your return!
It is easy to amend a return. It’s also easy for the IRS to amend your return: “You do not need to file an amended return due to math errors. The IRS will automatically make that correction.” Intense, right?

It is better to file and not pay than to not file and not pay.
What happened, you spend all your money? That’s okay, pal! Do your taxes, send ’em in, if you have absolutely no money. You will incur not-totally-crazy penalties over time due to not paying, and they will want to talk to you about when you can pay. (Yup, it’s always the broke people that have to pay more in this world.) That’s not ideal, sure! But it’s a lot more ideal than not having filed.

Okay, but should I be scared of the IRS?
The IRS only wants to hear from you. The answer, surprisingly, is a very firm “no”! Not at all! The IRS has some of the nicest, most understanding people I have ever spoken with in my life. True fact.

There’s a lot of TV- and movie-propagated terror about the IRS. (As well, the whole idea of the government and money is anxiety-producing on its own, sure.) And the truth is… well, they kind of used to be a little mean? But that’s actually ancient history. The people at the IRS are some of the funnest people ever! I have had long hilarious conversations with them on the phone. (For real, there are some hilarious ladies down in Atlanta.) IRS employees are like most civil servants; they deal with confused, freaked out and sometimes very dingbatty people (not you, friend!) every day — the kind of people who do not follow directions, particularly. So if you are not a jerk, they will be delighted to speak to you, at length. They will sometimes be like, “Girl, how did you get into this trouble?” and you’ll be like “Oh, haha, I’m a mess! Mistakes happen!” and they’ll be like, “I hear you! I get it!” Do not be afraid. What they want is to hear from you.

Should I be scared of my state tax department?
Actually… well, maybe just a little. The same rules apply as above — they do want to hear from you! — but, for instance, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance seems to be a little cranky. They want their money, they want it now, and if you don’t give it to them, they will take it. I’m sure there are some wonderful, caring people working in all of America’s fine state tax departments!

What happens if you don’t file?
Have I mentioned that the IRS only wants to hear from you?

No really, what happens if you don’t file and don’t pay?
Great news! Eventually the IRS will do your taxes for you. This is called a substitute return. Doesn’t that sound nice? Well it’s not particularly. For an agency that’s devoted to taxes, they don’t do a very good job at it. (Kidding.) So the good news is that your taxes will be done! The bad news is that they will take your reported income, slot it into the appropriate tax bracket, and say you owe that percentage. So if you made $85,000, bam, you owe 28%.

Also? Lots of people can’t deal with taxes when they’re even going to get money back! People are funny. But you should know that your refund disappears in three years if you don’t file.

What happens if, like, I ignore the IRS?
Well, you’ll get a ton of mail. And the problem with being “in trouble” is that your sense of being in trouble fades really fast. That’s how people are built. Most people pay taxes because they’re scared of the consequences. So, you don’t file one year, and then… nothing that terrible happens! So you’re off to the races. And then you get a scary piece of mail from the IRS, and you ignore it, and… nothing terrible happens again! It’s very easy for the human mind to acclimate to this.

And then, they will make it so that you can’t ignore them. (For instance, your debit card will stop working! Heh.) You should head that off at the pass. The moral being: even if you aren’t scared of the consequences now, you will be later.

Ugh, they sent a letter to everyone I’ve ever worked for! How humiliating!
Nah, it’s not. Years ago, the IRS sent out a letter to people who’d paid me money, informing them they had an interest in having that money for themselves. And half the people who got these letters — caring, decent, professional, adult-type people! — were like “Ha, I got one of these letters last year!” It was a moment of bonding. To be fair, one person was a little judgmental, but you are by no means alone in these issues.

So how do I work out paying if I haven’t paid?
You know how GE and Bank of America don’t pay any taxes? That happens because they’re well-advised. You too should be well-advised. Down the road, if you end up in debt with the IRS, you will likely have a couple of options — usually Offer in Compromise or Payment Plan. These are actually not terribly straightforward. For instance, you can work out a payment plan with the IRS, after filling out quite a lot of paperwork, and having your financial life pretty well-surveilled by them, but the IRS is actually required to ensure that you have enough money and income to meet the payment plan. (They can’t agree to a payment plan that’s onerous.) But that doesn’t mean that, even if you are on an installment plan, that penalties don’t continue to accrue! So, many people find that they’re often better off getting a bank loan. And Offer in Compromise is extremely complicated. With those, for instance, you cannot miss a yearly tax payment for at least the next five years, or the deal is off. So you are going to need to become an expert — but more importantly, you’re also going to need to consult with a real expert.

Ugh, I don’t know what to do!
Guess what? The IRS only wants to hear from you. Also? These things are never as bad as you think. Now go off to your quiet place and do your taxes. I can promise you’ll be happy you did.

HELP I’M PANICKING!
Lots of online tax products are free to use to file an extension. If you can’t do ANYTHING else at all, do that.

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IRS Sex workers taxes

Five Reasons Sex Workers File Their Damn Taxes

1) Tax returns are the only proof of income you have if you’re self-employed and paid mostly, if not entirely, in cash.

2) It’s far better for the IRS to have your numbers to start with than to let them come up with their own.

3) If you get caught after not paying taxes for a number of years and get hit with a five-figure bill, it really sucks.

4) You become another person contradicting the stereotype of sex workers as tax cheats who don’t contribute to society.

5) It makes you (even more) morally superior to GE.

Things you need to file if you are an independent contractor stripper/model/performer/camgirl, an escort, sensual touch provider, etc:

Form 1040
Schedule C for income from a business (you are a business)
Form 8829 for home office deduction (you have a computer in your home where you’re doing business, yes?)
Your receipts for work-related supplies, travel, and other expenses
Records of your income

Even if you lack accurate records, give it your best shot and file. Even if you can’t pay right now, file. Even if what you do is illegal, file (you don’t have to write down what you do. We are all “entertainers”). Read this piece over at the Awl for some good reasons why you should file no matter what. It’s so, so much better to have YOUR realistic numbers than to have the IRS say, “Hey, we have this 1099 from your club, where you sold $1500 in VIP rooms, so we’re assuming that was a normal night for you, so we’re calculating your tax debt based on that,” or “Well, we saw on this 20/20 special about escorts that $2000/hour is a rate people pay in New York, so let’s start there.”

I don’t care if you’re gonna fudge it! Don’t tell me about it. Don’t tell anyone about it, for that matter. I’m not telling you to file because I think we owe it to the country or because I’m a bleeding-heart liberal or because I think the Tea Party is supremely misguided because they aren’t storming the gates of GE and Bank of America to demand they bear their burden of the tax load. I’m telling you to do this because it COVERS YOUR PRETTY PROFESSIONALLY SEXY ASS. Having personally fucked up with taxes before and knowing several dancers and escorts who’ve been in deep shit with the revenuers, I speak from experience when I say it’s to your advantage to stay on top of your taxes.

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IRS Sex workers taxes

You’re A Sex Worker — How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

If your work is illegal, do you still pay your taxes? How do you deposit large amounts of cash without alerting the IRS? Alongside standard financial talk of high-yield investments and Excel spreadsheets, the Tumblr Sex Worker Helpfuls addresses a more specific set of questions like these. It’s one of several sex worker-run websites and message boards that offer financial advice to strippers, cam girls, sugar babies, dominatrices and escorts about everything from STIs to personal safety—and money is a popular subject.

“In the old days, it was the kind of things you might talk about to other girls if you worked in a brothel together or at an escort service,” says Maggie McNeill, a sex worker who has been in the business for 18 years and runs the blog The Honest Courtesan. “Nowadays, you strike up friendships on [message] boards and talk to each other.”

It’s no wonder that finances attract special concern. “The illegitimate and stigmatized nature of this work makes handling money feel really dicey and kind of stressful,” said Savannah Sly, president of the social justice organization the Sex Workers Outreach Project. It’s also why sex workers are sometimes excluded from the mainstream financial industry. Things that so many people take for granted, from having a bank account to taking out a car loan, can be difficult and unnerving, if not outright impossible, propositions—and they often require guidance.

The most fundamental issue is how to deal with large amounts of cash, particularly in escorting. Checks, which are unreliable and can reveal a sex worker’s identity to their clients, are generally off-limits as a form of payment. Many online payment services, like PayPal, have policies against “certain sexually oriented materials or services,” and you better believe sex worker Tumblrs are keeping a running tally of which services are sex worker friendly. Fiona Stone, who runs Sex Worker Helpfuls, says the most frequent financial questions she gets is about whether PayPal and similar services are “a good, safe option”—she says they aren’t. Some online payment processors have even seized sex workers’ accounts and put a hold on their funds. Earlier this month, a court ruled that PayPal customers who have had their accounts frozen might be entitled to settlements, but that hardly changes these companies’ policies.

This leaves cash as the best option, and cash can be dangerous.

Kate D’Adamo, national policy advocate at The Sex Worker’s Project, says policies like PayPal’s further marginalize sex workers and push them into “more and more isolation and into more and more vulnerability.” She explains, “If someone knows you work in the sex trade, they know you probably have money in your house, so you’re that much more likely to get robbed,” she said. “Having to be paid in cash because you can’t use PayPal means that you’re walking home at night or getting in a cab somewhere with five-hundred dollars on you.” And, of course, if a sex worker is robbed, he or she is likely less comfortable reporting it to police.

“I try not to keep that much (cash) on hand so that I can afford to lose it,” says McNeill. “I have a safe, it’s not a big one, I don’t want to keep around more than I can fit in that safe.” The sex work blog “good girls don’t” advises, “one thing you should invest in is a good fire-proof safe.” The post goes on to recommend, “Don’t hide cash in obvious places, like your mattress, the freezer, your toilet tank, and so on. If you’ve seen it in a movie, other people have, too.”

Of course, sex workers can always deposit cash in banks accounts, and many do, although as the “good girls don’t” post warns, “anything you deposit in a bank account, pay bills with, or buy large items with leaves a paper trail.” That can be of special concern when engaging in illegal sex work.

That’s not to mention the hazards in any line of sex work when dealing with bank tellers. “There’s not a lot of people who operate in cash so you’re considered to automatically be suspect if you are operating in cash,” said Sly. She still gets clammy going to the bank to make deposits. “I constantly feel like I’m gonna get busted,” she said. It doesn’t help that tellers, male ones in particular, tend to make jokes about large amounts of cash—things like, “Big night at the casino, huh?”

“I try to avoid people and use ATMs,” she said.

On top of that heap of financial burdens, there’s the additional distrust among sex workers of the banking industry as a whole. In 2014, Chase shut down the accounts of several high-profile porn performers, calling them “high risk.” The company denied that it was because of the nature of their professions, although many sex workers remain skeptical. Credit card companies have limited how sex workers can spend their money, too: Last year, responding to threats made by Sheriff Tom Dart of Cooks County, Illinois, Visa and MasterCard stopped processing payments for adult ads posted to the classified site Backpage.com. (Late last year, an appeals court ruled that Dart’s actions violated First Amendment rights.)

Of course, all of this cash tends to raise questions about taxes. It’s a frequent topic across sex worker advice sites, and the message is almost always: do them. “It’s that old principle of ‘only break one law at a time,’” said McNeill. As a post on Sex Worker Helpfuls, which is re-blogged from another site, puts it, “You don’t want to get hit with a six figure bill and/or jail time at some point over the next few years because you weren’t doing your taxes.”

The post goes on to detail necessary forms—1040 for an individual tax return, Schedule C for business income and 8829 for a home office deduction—and the need for income records. “Even if you lack accurate records, give it your best shot and file. Even if you can’t pay right now, file,” it reads. “Even if what you do is illegal, file (you don’t have to write down what you do. We are all ‘entertainers’).”

Other posts provide tips on recording income and offer up Excel spreadsheets for keeping track of tax deductible expenditures, including makeup. But even with all this guidance it can still be terrifying terrain, especially for those engaging in an illegal trade, and sex worker-friendly CPAs can be hard to come by. One sex worker who asked to remain anonymous told me that after she was upfront with an accountant about the nature of her work, he wouldn’t stop texting her after-hours.

This is why countless Tumblrs recommend Lori St. Kitts, the so-called Tax Domme, who has written the book, ”The Tax Domme’s Guide for Sex Workers and All Other Business People.” She was working as a tax preparer and phone sex operator when she noticed financial misinformation being passed around on sex industry message boards. When she started posting her own tax advice, people asked her to file their returns, and her specialty was born. Now she runs her business alongside her mother, a.k.a. the Financial Madam, under the tagline “bringing your tax liability to its knees.”

“Sex workers are no different than any other business, but their deductions are a bit more interesting,” Kitts said, pointing to questions about things like lube and sex toys. “There is this idea that because they deal in sex that they are all shady and criminals when the truth is that most are just trying to work a legal business under unfair laws and scrutiny.” She says she’s seen “more vanilla businesses try to work around the tax law than sex work businesses.”

In fact, Mistress Matisse, a Seattle-based dominatrix, says she shies away from deductions out of fear. “I do worry a great deal. With my tax guy I’m like, ‘We are declaring this, we are paying taxes on it.’ I’m very conservative about what I deduct.” Her accountant suggested that she write off her home office—because, as she puts it, “half my house is my office”—but she’s too concerned that it will raise a red flag. “There’s a tax on me basically because I can’t bring myself to the attention [of the IRS],” she said.

But, as Matisse found, doing your taxes can be critical for gaining access to other financial tools, like loans. She first started doing her taxes thanks to a client who was an accountant, and then, many years later, a client who was a realtor helped her secure a mortgage. In part because she had a record of her income from paying taxes, she was able to call herself a “self-employed consultant” and get her mortgage application approved. That doesn’t mean the process was easy. “I felt like such a fraud, even though I was like, ‘I know I have the money for this,’” she said. “I swear I lost like seven pounds from the stress during the month when we closed.”

As with any self-employed person—or anyone in a profession that operates in large amounts of cash, like the restaurant industry—it can be difficult to save. Sites like Sex Worker Helpfuls provide pointers and spreadsheets for setting up savings goals, whether it’s for buying a house or for retirement—but an online listicle is not quite as motivating as a relentless HR person who keeps asking about your 401k elections.

McNeill simply planned to live off of her husband’s retirement income, but they have since divorced. “I’m now in position at 49-years-old where I don’t have any savings of any kind,” she said. “I’m faced with a future in which, basically, I’m going to have to keep working one way or another probably for the rest of my life.”

Sometimes, though, people luck out and find a financial mentor: Sly had a friend who helped her open a Roth IRA and Matisse happened to have a client who convinced her to get an IRA. But Matisse emphasizes that this, along with clients who were knowledgeable about taxes and real estate, was total luck. “Our basic financial safety should not depend on that sort of thing,” she said.

Many sex worker rights activists argue that all of these financial burdens—from having to carry dangerous amounts of cash to overpaying on their taxes out of fear—are yet more examples of how criminalization harms sex workers and leaves them more vulnerable. It’s also part of why sex workers have to rely on financial “wisdom … being transmitted though message boards that the government wants to shut down,” as McNeill put it, referring to sites like RedBook, which the feds shuttered in 2014. It had been a place where sex workers both advertised their services and found community with, and advice from, fellow sex workers.

For now at least, there are still sites like Sex Worker Helpfuls. “It’s very important,” said Stone. “[Sex workers] are putting in work all the time to help make our lives less bogged down by a system that gladly takes our money but sneers at how it’s made.”

By Tracy Clark-Flory and Leigh Cuen

Categories
IRS Sex workers taxes

Finances and Sex Work

Starting out or working in the sex industry can be daunting in terms of the financial aspects. Money is coming in, sometimes more than you’ve ever made or even seen before. It can be a bit overwhelming to plan and handle your money. I am not at all a tax professional, financial planner, or really anything but a whore with some experience. This is just advice from me to you, not intended to substitute for professional (well, that kind) advice. It was also not intended to help you avoid the system. Pay your taxes!

First and foremost, you need to plan your budget. How much money do you need to pay rent, utilities, credit card payments, loans, car payments, food bills, and so on? How much money do you need each week or month in order to cover the necessities? Figure this out first. Everything else after this amount is disposable income.

Based on your budget, some market research, and the guidance of other sex workers, calculate your rate. I’m not an expert on this. There are others who can help you, like the book The Internet Escort’s Handbook by Amanda Brooks. Similar principles apply, no matter what type of sex work you do.

Set up a book-keeping system. Having no way to track how much money is coming in and going out will end up hurting you. You’ll have no way to know what you’re averaging and how much you’re spending. This can be as simple as a writing down everything you make in a notebook or as complex as a color-coded spreadsheet or financial software. A good, basic system is the date, the number of or type of appointment or job, and the amount made.

Figure out how to handle your cash. If you are working for a club, dungeon, or company that issues you a paycheck instead of you dealing with cash, skip this.

Decide what you want to do with your cash. Keep in mind that anything you deposit in a bank account, pay bills with, or buy large items with leaves a paper trail. If you want to keep your cash handy, one thing you should invest in is a good fire-proof safe. Keeping a lot of cash on hand is risky as a sex worker. If others find out, you can be at risk of robbery. A safe can help. Don’t hide cash in obvious places, like your mattress, the freezer, your toilet tank, and so on. If you’ve seen it in a movie, other people have, too. Consider having a dummy safe. This is a safe you hide in a more obvious place (under your bed, for example) and keep a small amount of cash in. Then, get a good, sturdy, floor-bolted safe or wall safe to keep more in. If a thief breaks in, the thief will quickly discover your dummy safe and leave your main safe alone.

Depositing cash is a good idea. Consider either a safety deposit box or a bank account. It’s a good idea to have three bank accounts: a personal checking, a savings, and a “business” checking. This can just be a personal account you filter all of your money through before it goes into your personal account. Keeping your money separate can demonstrate that you are organized in your business book-keeping.

Now that you have a budget and are handling your money, start some basic financial planning. What are your long term goals? Are you doing sex work to pay for something, pay off something? A really good rule of thumb is to have three months’ of expenses in savings. That way, if you want to take a break, you get fired, transition, the market turns around, you are hurt and can’t work, you’ll have a cushion. You’ll also have money in case of an emergency, like a car breaking down or a medical bill.

If you can afford it, consider basic health insurance, catastrophic only. If you are young and have no major health problems, you can usually get this cheaply. It will have a high deductable (sometimes $5,000 to $10,000), so it’s not for your annual exam or going into the doctor when you have a cold. It’s just in case you have a major event happen. If you get hit by a car or something equally terrible, the medical bills can wipe you out. Having insurance can protect you.

Once you have met your savings goal of three months’ expenses, start a savings plan for other things. If it’s for school, for a car or a house, or something else, think about your investments. This is my weakest area because, to be honest, having enough money to invest has never really happened to me before. But consider seeing a financial planner for this service, or someone like the Financial Madam. You can make low risk investments, like a savings account with interest, savings bonds, or certificates of deposit. You can also make higher risk investments, like stocks. Having a long-term retirement plan is an awesome idea.

In general, try to be smart with your money.  If something is a business investment (like a computer to check your email on, a car, or sometimes clothes), talk to your tax preparer about what is deductible. Otherwise, try to avoid the impulse to spend all of your money just because it’s there. I went through a period like that when I first started working. I had an awesome time and got some lovely shoes, but when I needed to get out like right now, I had absolutely nothing to fall back on.

On the issue of things to do with your money, consider reinvesting in your business. Again, some of these things are tax deductible. Setting up a business model is a good idea. Decide what your long-term goals with your type of sex work are. Use some of your income to place ads in the right places to tap your target market. Get professional photographs. Set up a website. Make little investments to set yourself up for long-term success.

When things get more complicated, there are many more issues to consider, like becoming incorporated or becoming an LLC. These are things I know nothing about at all, hence, talk to a financial planner, an attorney, and definitely your fellow sex workers. Being smart with your money is the best way to gain your independence.

janebrazen.wordpress. com/2009/07/08/finances-and-sex-work

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