The Tax Side of Digital Payments: 1099-K, Venmo, and Zelle Explained

Explore how digital payments impact taxes for rental property investors with IRS guidelines and practical insights.

Gemma Smith
Last Updated
December 14, 2023
The Tax Side of Digital Payments: 1099-K, Venmo, and Zelle Explained

In an era where digital payment methods like Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal are revolutionizing rental property management, property investors are facing a critical challenge — understanding the IRS tax implications.

This article is your essential guide to unraveling the complexities surrounding the impact of these platforms on tax reporting and compliance for rental property owners. We’ll dissect the growing importance of this topic as these digital payment methods gain prominence in the real estate industry.

If you’re a property investor, this article will equip you with the knowledge you need to ensure precise tax reporting and proactively adapt to the evolving tax landscape in this digital age. You'll also gain valuable insights into the IRS's current guidelines and forthcoming changes. 

Using a payment app for rental transactions: A general overview 

Digital payment platforms have significantly altered how rental payments are handled. Offering convenience and speed, these payment apps appeal to landlords and tenants alike.

Venmo is favored for its user-friendly interface, while Zelle is preferred for direct bank-to-bank money transfers. PayPal stands out for its ability to handle international transactions, making it ideal for landlords with properties or tenants overseas.

Cash App, known for its simplicity, also offers features like investment options, and Apple Pay is recognized for its seamless integration with Apple devices and enhanced security.

Adopting these payment apps in the rental market has streamlined the rent collection process, offering instant transfers and simplified financial tracking. This shift to digital payments not only enhances convenience but also introduces transparency in transactions.

However, rental property owners must stay informed about these third-party payment apps' tax implications and reporting requirements to ensure compliance with tax code and effective financial management in their rental property ventures.

The IRS’s stance on digital payments and the tax implications

In response to the increasing prevalence of digital transactions, the IRS has updated its guidelines, impacting how rental property investors report income. Central to these changes is the use of tax forms; namely, Form 1099-K, issued for payments processed by platforms like Venmo, Zelle, and others. Traditionally associated with business transactions, this form has become increasingly relevant for landlords in the digital era.

For the tax year 2023, the IRS requires reporting when payments exceed either $20,000 or involve more than 200 transactions using the 1099-K form. It's essential to note that this threshold accumulates across all transactions for all goods and services. However, starting in tax year 2024, landlords should prepare for a notable change: the threshold will be lowered to $5,000 to report transactions. This adjustment is a step toward implementing the $600 threshold as per the American Rescue Plan.

This pivotal shift means landlords should anticipate potentially paying taxes and receiving a 1099-K for smaller amounts of total rental income than before, underscoring the need for meticulous income tracking and reporting.

Responsibility and compliance: Navigating taxable vs. non-taxable transactions

Rental property owners need to differentiate between taxable and non-taxable transactions accurately. Understanding this distinction is key to ensuring compliance with IRS regulations and accurate tax reporting. 

Let's compare and contrast them below:

  • Taxable transaction: Suppose a landlord uses Venmo to collect $1,200 in monthly rent from a tenant. Over the year, this accumulates to $14,400 in rental income. Even if this amount doesn't cross the IRS's reporting threshold for a 1099-K in 2023, it's still taxable income. The landlord must report this as rental income on their tax return, as it's a payment for providing a housing service.
  • Non-taxable transaction: Imagine another scenario where the same landlord receives $500 via Zelle from a friend to cover a shared vacation expense. This transaction is personal and not related to the rental business. Therefore, it's considered non-taxable and shouldn't be reported as income on the landlord's tax return.

Landlords must maintain clear records distinguishing these types of transactions. Implementing a system that separates business and personal accounts or using digital platform features for labeling transactions can help in this regard. Accurate categorization ensures that only legitimate rental income is reported, preventing confusion and potential issues with the IRS during tax filing.

Platform-specific reporting: Zelle and Venmo

With Zelle transactions, banks in the Zelle network are not responsible for issuing a 1099-K when the total rent payments exceed the IRS threshold in a given year. As mentioned previously, it's important to note that this threshold accumulates across all transactions for all goods and services.

Venmo, on the other hand, aligns with IRS regulations and tracks transactions to issue a 1099-K. Beginning in tax year 2024, landlords receiving $5,000 or more in rental payments through Venmo will be issued this tax form. Landlords must closely monitor their income through Venmo to ensure proper tax reporting.

The updated IRS reporting thresholds reflect an ongoing effort to encompass a broader range of digital transactions in the tax framework. Rental property investors are advised to proactively manage and report their digital income to accurately file taxes. Consulting tax professionals is advisable to navigate these evolving requirements and avoid penalties or issues with the IRS.

Staying ahead of rental property taxes

As rental property investors increasingly adopt digital platforms for rent collection, it becomes essential to implement strategies that ensure tax compliance. This section outlines key practices for accurate record-keeping, effective use of digital payment tools, and staying updated with IRS regulations, all aimed at facilitating compliant and efficient property management.

  • Implementing effective record-keeping: Develop a system for meticulously documenting all digital transactions related to rental properties. Utilize digital tools or software that automatically categorize transactions and store receipts and invoices. This system should separate business-related transactions from personal ones to avoid confusion during tax filing.
  • Utilizing digital platforms wisely: Choose digital payment platforms offering detailed transaction histories and year-end summaries. Look for features that allow the tagging or labeling of transactions, as this can help you quickly identify taxable transactions.
  • Regularly reviewing transaction histories: Schedule monthly or quarterly reviews of your transaction histories on these digital platforms. This practice helps catch any discrepancies early and accurately accounts for all rental income.
  • Understanding the scope of taxable income: Familiarize yourself with the taxable income types. Rental income is typically taxable, but certain transactions, like security deposits not kept as rent, may not be. Understanding these nuances will help you report income accurately.
  • Planning for tax season: With the changing IRS thresholds, anticipate the potential of receiving a 1099-K form and prepare accordingly. This might involve consulting a tax professional to understand how the reported figures on the 1099-K form correlate with your own records.
  • Staying updated on IRS regulations: The IRS regulations surrounding digital transactions are evolving. Stay informed about the latest updates, especially regarding the reporting thresholds for digital platforms.
  • Consulting with tax professionals: Consider seeking advice from tax experts, especially when dealing with complex situations or when new changes in tax laws are implemented. Professional guidance can ensure compliance and help optimize tax deductions related to rental property management.

By implementing these strategies, rental property investors can navigate the complexities of digital transactions and maintain compliance with IRS regulations, ultimately leading to a more efficient and organized approach to managing their rental properties.

Streamlining financial management with Azibo

Azibo's services emerge as a practical solution for managing these financial transactions and ensuring compliance. Azibo offers a comprehensive platform designed specifically for rental property management, which includes efficient rent collection and financial tracking tools. 

These tools can significantly streamline your business processes, such as managing rental payments, tracking income and expenses, and preparing for tax season. Using Azibo, landlords can collect rent digitally and keep an organized record of all transactions, which is vital for accurate tax reporting and financial management.

Interested? Get started, it's free!

Ensuring compliance in digital rental management

The transition to third-party payment companies like Venmo, Zelle, and others marks a significant evolution in rental property management. As we have explored, this shift brings vital tax implications and new compliance requirements outlined by the IRS. Landlords must stay informed about these changes and actively adapt their financial tracking and reporting practices.

The lowered thresholds for issuing a 1099-K form, starting in tax year 2024, underscore the need for meticulous record-keeping and a clear understanding of what constitutes taxable business income. It's crucial for property investors to accurately differentiate between taxable business transactions and non-taxable personal transactions, ensuring that all rental income is correctly reported.

We encourage landlords to view these changes as an opportunity, not a burden, to increase the efficiency of their financial management and reinforce the integrity of their rental businesses. Engaging with these changes proactively, utilizing tools like Azibo for efficient management, and consulting with tax professionals for tailored tax advice will aid in compliance and enhance overall financial organization and health.

As the landscape of rental property management continues to evolve, staying ahead of these changes is key. Embrace the digital shift, stay informed on IRS regulations, and seek professional guidance when necessary. By doing so, you'll comply with the law, pay taxes appropriately, and position your rental business for continued success.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute tax advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date tax information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a tax professional.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Gemma Smith

With 7 years in property management, Gemma serves as a key content strategist at While excelling in writing, editing, and SEO, she also enhances Azibo's social media presence. Passionately, Gemma educates others to make informed real estate investment decisions in the ever-changing market.

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