Making money with online surveys – and what about taxes?

Actually, there is nothing in Germany that is not subject to tax liability. If you earn money by participating in online surveys, you may have to pay tax on it. You can find out more about this in this article.The most important things in a nutshellThere is a difference between being additionally employed or notThere is an allowance for ancillary incomeProducts received for product testing are taxableVouchers are also part of the ancillary incomeThis is how high the earnings are with paid surveys

For 10 minutes of survey time, there is about one euro. Of course, this depends on the provider and sometimes there is more or less remuneration. Online panels that pay well can be found in the special “Earn money with surveys”. Professional survey participants can earn up to 300 euros per month by regularly participating in various providers. When does the tax office want to have something from the cake?

Earning money with surveys seems attractive at first, but as soon as you do something sustainable with the intention of making a profit, the tax office also wants to have something from the profits. So if you earn more than 410 euros a year with surveys or product tests, you may have to pay tax on this and register as a self-employed person with the tax office. However, if you are just starting out, you should first wait and see how the profits from the activity develop.

Even if you test products, there is an advantage that is taxable. A distinction must be made between consumables such as coffee powder or a product that can be used permanently, such as a coffee machine. The consumables play a subordinate role, but if you are allowed to keep the coffee machine after the test, a realistic price must be determined. This is then considered as taking. You can only prevent this if you can prove the return or scrapping. The latter is rather unlikely and implausible.

Product or value vouchers also represent a monetary advantage and must be stated as income. These are the tax consequences of participating in paid online surveys.

Any additional income must be declared in income tax. If the additional income generated by the online surveys does not exceed 410 euros a year and there is no other part-time job, then this income remains tax-free if you pursue a full-time job subject to wage tax.

In addition, the activity with the online surveys must not serve as a permanent source of income on the side (keyword: long-term profit-making intention). By “not permanently” is meant, for example, to earn something between training and a new job or to earn pocket money for the summer holiday in the winter months.

As a rule, the allowance is sufficient and there is no additional tax on the ancillary income through online surveys.

Note: There is an upper income limit and for students/trainees also a weekly hour limit with the health insurance to observe, for example, to remain family insured. It is best to inquire directly with your insurance company and, in case of doubt, also coordinate with the tax office whether you have to register a self-employed activity. Without employment

If, for example, you are a full-time housewife or student and want to earn something extra over a longer period of time with surveys or product tests, then you have to register a business with your municipality. For this, you usually pay a fee, which varies depending on the municipality. In addition, you must register with the tax office and submit the completed questionnaire for tax registration (taking up a commercial, self-employed / freelance activity). These taxes come to youindive tax

For the income tax return, you must necessarily make a revenue surplus calculation and may state your earnings, but also the expenses incurred in this context, such as Internet costs, postage, etc. If there is no further income, you pay no taxes in the event of a surplus up to the amount of the basic allowance of 9,984 euros (as of 2022).

Trade tax does not apply up to a profit of 24,500 euros. Achieving such a profit with surveys should be relatively difficult, so you can hide the topic at first. Sales tax

If your sales (not profit) remain below $22,000, then you can be a so-called small business owner. This means that you are not allowed to show any sales tax, or do not have to pay vat from the income from the online panels. This also means that you cannot recover the input tax contained in the purchases you make from the tax office.

Example:Max is a student and out of boredom he occasionally fills out a few online surveys and earns less than 410 euros a year. Otherwise, he has no income and lives on the support of his parents.

Solution:Since Max has no taxable income above the basic allowance of 9,984 euros (as of 2022) and does not exceed the allowance of 410 euros (according to § 46 para. 3 EStG), the income from the online surveys is tax-free. There is no assessment for income tax (according to § 46 paragraph 2 no. 1 EStG).

Variation 1:Max still has a very lucrative student job with which he earns 15,000 euros a year without losing his student status. Since this happens almost incidentally, he continues to participate in online surveys and receives 350 euros a year for it.

Solution:There is an assessment for income tax (according to § 46 para. 2 no. 4). However, the income from the online surveys is not subject to taxation, as it amounts to less than 410 euros (according to § 46 para. 3 sentence 1 EStG). Additional income between 410 euros and 820 euros

Additional income of more than 410 euros will be gradually reduced. For this purpose, the hardship compensation amount of 820 euros applies (according to § 46 para. 5 EStG in conjunction with § 70 EStDV). From 820 euros, the additional income is subject to taxation.

Variation 2:Student job still 15,000 euros, but Max achieves 600 euros a year with better online surveys.

Solution:There is a regular income tax assessment (see above), but the income from the online surveys is above the allowance of 410 euros, so that of the 600 euros earned, only 220 remain tax-free (820 euros – 600 = 220 euros deduction amount, see also table). 380 euros (600 – 220 euros) are subject to income tax and are taxed at the individual tax rate.

FAQ – Frequently Asked QuestionsI only took part in one survey and received a small fee. Do I have to register with the tax office now?

If you do not continue to participate regularly in paid surveys, then it is not a permanent activity and a registration with the tax office can very likely be omitted. It is best to wait and see how the revenues develop.

I regularly participated in surveys for 6 months, but did not exceed the amount of 410 euros. Do I have to specify this?

Yes, it is best to enter it in your tax return anyway. In the assessment, this amount is accordingly left out.

I have noticed that I have already exceeded the amount of 410 euros after a short time and would like to continue to participate in paid surveys. What should I do now?

It is best to register your activity immediately (retroactively) with the municipality and the tax office.

Do you have further questions about online surveys and taxes? Then write us a comment!

About our author: Yvonne is a tax specialist and brings over 15 years of experience in the tax and payroll sector through her work in the tax office. She is our expert on the subject of parental allowance and parental leave. She is 41 years old and lives with her partner in Lüneburg. When she’s not answering your questions or recording new videos for you, she likes to sit at the craft table and be creative with paper and stamps.

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