Should I report my gross earnings as a self-employed Uber driver?

by Nicole T. Buckman, CPA | Jan 25, 2019

I am unemployed and have been approved for Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation (PAUC). I have started to Uber to help with lost wages, but want to avoid going over the allowable 30 percent of the weekly benefit rate. When I file and report Uber income (1099/self-employed), do I report my gross earnings or take the mileage allowance to arrive at income? Also, if I earn considerably more than the 30 percent weekly benefit rate, am I better off not filing to preserve one of the weeks for another time since they are limited? (Does PAUC allow you to skip weeks and preserve allowable weeks if you qualify for no employment?)

When an individual becomes unemployed and eligible for a weekly benefit rate, you must file a biweekly claim. Although you will file for two weeks at one time, you will certify your eligibility for each week separately. Regarding your earnings from Uber, this is treated as self-employment. It will be considered part-time or full-time employment depending on how much you drive. However, you may earn up to 30 percent of your weekly benefit rate in each claim week before the earnings affect your weekly benefit payment. Even when earning more than 30 percent of your weekly benefit rate, you may still claim a partial benefit amount.

When you report your Uber wages, you are required to report the gross earnings. The mileage deductions along with any other business-related expenses will be taken when you file your 1040 Schedule C for the respective tax year.

I also believe it is best to file regardless of the income amount because you certify your eligibility weekly, even though you file the claim biweekly. In other words, it shouldn’t affect a week that you earned less than 30 percent. The easiest way to figure the amount of benefits payable to the claimant for the week is to add the weekly benefit rate and the partial benefit credit together and subtract the weekly earnings.

Consider this: You have a weekly benefit rate of $300, which would make allowable earnings $90. This $90 is also known as a partial benefit credit. If you were to earn $100 on any given week you would calculate your partial benefit amount as follows: 

$300+$90-$390 (Weekly Benefit Rate + Partial Benefit Credit = Subtotal).
$390-$100 = $290 (Subtotal - Weekly Earnings = Partial Benefit Amount)

Even when exceeding the threshold of 30 percent of $300 for the week, you would still be entitled to $290 of $300.

A CPA can assist you with the Schedule C at year-end to ensure you are including and maximizing the deductions relating to that income.

For more resources, check out PICPA’s Money & Life Tips, Ask a CPA, or CPA Locator.

Answered by: Nicole T. Buckman, CPA, is with Kohanski & Company PC in Moosic, Pa.

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
Financial FAQs

Search the most frequently asked finance and accounting questions and read the responses from PICPA members. Always consult a CPA before taking action.