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I started a new freelancing job at the end of last year, and I've been paid thus far below the minimum for a 1099-MISC to be required (at least I believe so, it was one paycheck of $40). How do I report this tiny amount on my taxes?

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You are right that even if you do not receive a 1099-MISC, you still need to report all income to the IRS. Report the $40 on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ. Since your net profit was less than $400, you do not need to file Schedule SE. From the IRS web site:

Self-Employment Income

It is a common misconception that if a taxpayer does not receive a Form 1099-MISC or if the income is under $600 per payer, the income is not taxable. There is no minimum amount that a taxpayer may exclude from gross income.

All income earned through the taxpayer’s business, as an independent contractor or from informal side jobs is self-employment income, which is fully taxable and must be reported on Form 1040.

Use Form 1040, Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business (Sole Proprietorship) to report income and expenses. Taxpayers will also need to prepare Form 1040 Schedule SE for self-employment taxes if the net profit exceeds $400 for a year. Do not report this income on Form 1040 Line 21 as Other Income.

Independent contractors must report all income as taxable, even if it is less than $600. Even if the client does not issue a Form 1099-MISC, the income, whatever the amount, is still reportable by the taxpayer.

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