Well that’s basically it. If you were trying to Google jury duty pay to find out if it’s taxable or not—here’s your answer. It is.
Usually when I make a blog post about something, it takes me a few sentences to get to the point. And this topic was so simple that I almost didn’t bother to write about it except that I just got back from the bank depositing my jury duty paycheck: $98.40! That’s for one entire week of jury duty. The going rate around here is $10 a day, $18 if you actually get put on a trial. They also reimburse you for mileage. Yeeehah!
As we commiserated around the jury room about our grand financial boondoggle, our jury foreman told us that the money wasn’t taxable, except he was wrong. You do have to pay tax on your jury duty income.
When you’re filling out your tax return, your jury duty income goes on line 21—other income. Most of the “do it yourself” computerized tax programs ask you if you had jury duty income and guide you through inputting it onto your return. It’s really not a big deal.
But what happens if you don’t put it down? Most people only get about $20 or $30 from their jury duty service. Will the IRS really go after you for missing that little amount of money? The thing is—yes, they will.
Now you have to remember that it’s not like some IRS agent is waiting to nab some poor innocent person who just happened to accidentally leave $30 off of his tax return. Believe it or not, they’re not vindictive like that. (Most of them aren’t anyway.) What really happens is that the big IRS computer does something called “document matching.” If your county courthouse issues you a 1099 for $30 and it’s not listed on your 1040, the IRS computer goes, “Whoopsies—this guys’ missing something,” and you’re going to get a nasty letter. (Okay, I’ve never really heard a computer say, “Whoopsies,” but you get my drift.)
So while a human would probably take a look and say, “Oh, I bet it’s just jury duty or something like that—it’s only $30, no big deal,” and skip right over it, the computer won’t. The computer will generate a letter saying that you didn’t report all of your income and that you need to pay additional tax. And that means paperwork, and IRS agents opening your file and looking. Now that probably isn’t a problem since you’ve got nothing to hide—except you’ve just neglected to report income in one area—what else aren’t you telling the IRS?
See how a simple little mistake can open a can of worms that shouldn’t even be a can of worms? So remember to report you jury duty income on your tax return. Don’t worry about the tax, you didn’t make that much on your jury duty pay to begin with. The tax won’t be that much.