Some mystery shoppers just take on secret shopping jobs as a hobby. But since any income made by your mystery shopping is taxable, it is important to treat your mystery shopping like a business. This means keeping accurate records of each mystery shopping job that you do. You can claim tax deductions for your expenses in addition to needing to claim the income.
Some people just keep a note book which lists the shopping jobs, mileage, amount they have to spend on the job, amount they are reimbursed, and fees that they earn. Others may keep these records in a computer program such as Excel. But as you increase the number of shopping jobs you do, it is important to do a good job of record keeping. You should keep records of which mystery shopping provider companies assign you to which jobs, the names and addresses of where you do the shops, your expenses to do your online reports (such as your internet fees), etc.
You will likely find that it is wise to use a software program that is specifically geared toward keeping records for business and tax purposes. One such program is Quickbooks, which you can purchase as software or use online. They have several business plans that can help people who work in their own businesses or are employed as independent contractors. At Quickbooks Online, you can choose the plan that’s best for your business. Right now they’ll let you try it FREE for 30 Days!
One advantage to keeping your records up to date regularly with a program like Quickbooks is that you can feed the information directly from the software into your tax software program. That saves a lot of time and frustration when it’s time to file income taxes. Another advantage is that if you’d like to do a shopping job for a good mystery shopping provider company again, you can go back to the records and access the contact information quickly without having to rack your brains over to get back in touch with them. You can set your record keeping program up to include the URL and login information.
So even if you are a beginning secret shopper, form a habit of regularly recording all the info you’ll need to contact the company again and to have all of the records you’ll need to do your income taxes. Don’t put it off til April 14th and then try to pull all of your info together from emails and other information you have about your shopping jobs. If you do, you’ll be frustrated! If you keep records up to date, you’ll be relieved!