A Community of Sharers, Making Taxes Less Awful

Aug 9, 2013

If you funded a project on Kickstarter, rented your room out on Airbnb, or exchanged design services for cleaning help this year, you participated in a local and global network of sharers that makes you (not big business or brands or investors) the decider of what and how you get the stuff you need. Many have called it the sharing economy.

But then April rolls around, that new Etsy store owner or TaskRabbiter has to scramble to figure out how to pay taxes…which is daunting even for a veteran freelancer.

Collaborative Fund, the organization behind Skillshare, Lyft, and Kickstarter, have launched 1099.is to help these bewildered freelancers.

1099.is is a crowdsourced tax advice platform where users can post and answer tax questions. The site aims to help the millions of participants in the sharing economy – and particularly the producers and sharers, those with assets to share –navigate the new and often confusing world of 1099s. Questions like, “Do I have to pay taxes on the income I make from Airbnb?” and “Is funding on Kickstarter considered a charitable donation?” are answered by tax professionals and commented on by the community.

The creators of 1099.is see the platform as the beginning of a conversation. Alberto Escarlate, a venture partner at Collaborative Fund, told us, “The community is diverse in roles and experiences with the sharing economy, so listening to everyone is key for us to learn the pressing questions and possible solutions. What we launched is what we think just the baseline for what 1099.is could become.”

Not only does the platform help sharers, but the very existence of the site demonstrates the value of a collaborative approach to solving group issues.

This is a very exciting moment in the sharing movement. The primary peer-to-peer networks have become more established, and now a secondary community of sharers is forming to support other sharers. The community is building its own support systems. And as we know from our work uniting freelancers for the past 18 years, community builds solidarity, new services and products to aid that community, and if needed, national political attention to address that community’s needs.

The independent worker is a nimble, creative, and avant-garde force who always seems to find our country’s next economic wellspring. We look forward to seeing what sharers and makers tap into next.