In late 2017, I went through arbitration with a business and was awarded approximately $950 (USD) in the form of a check.

My experience has always been that anything over $600 from a business, in total throughout the year, must be reported and taxed. I am fully aware that my award is taxable as it was not related to personal injury, which apparently is a special scenario that doesn't appear to be taxed.

The issue I have is that I never received any notifications or paperwork from the business that lays out what taxes I owe. I understand that I'll be paying taxes on the $950, but I cannot guarantee that there aren't other influences that will either skew that number up or down without the proper paperwork to review.


  • Was the business legally required to provide me a notification and/or documents before February 1st, 2018?
  • If they were, is it better to contact them for documents or should I notify the IRS that they failed to provide them as there are penalties associated with business providing tax documents late?

Obviously I want to ensure I'm paying my taxes correctly, but I'm also trying to ensure that the business is aware of the issue, especially if they didn't feel it was necessary to provide anything.

The arbitration case I went through involves is related to a few other questions I had posted. This includes a few Law questions (here and here) and one other Personal Finance question (here). In short, I qualified for 900 account credits with the business. They failed to pay that out and so I went to arbitration. However, the arbitrator enforced that I'd be paid in US dollars instead. Account credits are nontaxable and valueless. So, I received $950USD instead of 900 credits which would have been worth 0.00USD. The answer on my other Personal Finance question (here, again) helps point out why their original offer was worth nothing and why I feel as though the award is likely considered as taxable income.

  • Have you paid the business more than the award amount? If the arbiter ordered a (partial) refund of money you paid, it would be very surprising for that to have different tax treatment than any other refund. You'd lose any deduction you had taken on the expense, but a (partial) refund wouldn't be income. On the other hand, if they underpaid for a service or product they purchased from you, the award would be treated as income and could be subject to sales tax in addition to income tax.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 1:34
  • what is missing from the question is the why. Why the arbitration? Was it pay the owed you? was it a refund for a defective purchase? Did they over charge you? You mention that it isn't a personal injury, but you don't give any more clues. Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 12:57
  • @mhoran_psprep I've added clarification to the question. The arbitration involved a dispute in the business not paying promotional credits. The arbitrator decided to award me USD instead. Credits have no value, while the check I received certainly does.
    – Xrylite
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 22:00


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