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How much can you earn before you have to file a 1099?

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Employers do not have to issue 1099s for less than $600. But if your employer provides you with a 1099 of any amount, you must file a return. The reason is that those wages have not been taxed for social security (self-employment) tax.
Self-employment tax is a mandatory tax that the Social Security Administration has jurisdiction over and that is governed by the IRS. You need to remember that when paying self-employment tax you are basically paying yourself since the monies are put into your account with Social Security.
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