Would running an Ebay business be considered paid work?

I have been running an Ebay business for 2 years now and I am not sure how I should categorize it on my college application. I have learned how to grow the business and have sold hundreds of items, but I never registered it as a business to the government so I’m not sure if I should even categorize this extracurricular as “work experience”. I would love to be able to fill in the paid work category of the questbridge application so it’ll free up a space for me to put another impactfull activity I had in the extracurricular section. What do you think I should do?

Have you been reporting the income from this business to the IRS and paying taxes on it? I’d be more worried about that. It’s going to be hard to claim that you had a business that made money, and then show no income on your financial aid forms.

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I haven’t reported it which is why I am worried… my parents hasn’t filed the 2020 tax form yet, so maybe I’ll just have them report it

You need to report to the IRS if you made more than $20,000 in gross sales AND sold over 200 items in a year. And I wouldn’t count it as paid experience myself.

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so if I had sold more than 200 items but didn’t make $20,000 would I be fine?

You will not get a 1099 form to report to the irs if you haven’t made 20,000 and sold 200 items. However, the IRS does say if you consider it to be a business, it needs to be reported. Do You Have to Claim eBay Sales on Taxes? | Small Business - Chron.com

And it looks like the limits will be dropping in the near future https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnbc.com/amp/2021/03/26/its-going-to-get-harder-to-avoid-telling-the-irs-about-income-from-online-sales.html

So my son did something similar. It wasn’t a business per se but he gained a lot of experience that he was able to relate in his essay and actually relate it to his major. If you just say it’s a part time eBay business that you gained valuable experience in… Xxxx… You will be fine. He actually did this under my account till he made his own. I wouldn’t worry about the rest. The readers will get it. Just don’t make more of it then it is. It’s an EC that your learning from.


Thank you for the advice! Did your son put this extracurricular under the category of paid work on his application? I’m just worried that the admission officers might see it and think I’m lying or something since it won’t show up in the taxes or fasfa.

They have less then 10 minutes on your app… They aren’t double checking your fasfa… Lol… I honestly don’t remember it was 5 years ago or something like that… I would leave it as an Ec and don’t worry about stating you paid yourself. Unless it’s like Amazon they don’t care. It’s more what you learn from forming a business… His was data analysis, customer service and research… Etc. His was also unique to his age group but a very common hobby. It’s how he got his material to sell that was the actually story… Again, don’t over play it. Tons of kids have eBay businesses and sell just about everything. It doesn’t matter if you sold $10.00/month or $1,000/week. It’s the why you did it and what you learned from it.

He did state coaching a 9 year old in chess and he made $25/hour for that… Lol…

The application should tell a story about you… Don’t over focus on one thing unless… That’s the story your trying to tell. My son’s essay including his since it was so different and it’s what set him apart and related it to his major.

Again, they aren’t asking you for proof or irs filings… Lol…

It shows your not sitting on the couch doing nothing all day and hoping to get into college. College likes active kids and self starters… There will be a chance you will do the same on campus. They want active involved students. That is what makes college really go when you all get involved in things your want to do and explore.

I see, thank you!! I have an idea of what to write about on my essay regarding this since I did have a similar experience as your son, and it’ll also relate to my major as well.The only reason why I’m contemplating put this ebay business under paid work instead of just a normal extracurricular is because on the Questbridge application I can only list 5 (non paid) extracurriculars. If I can put this activity under “Paid Work”, which is a different section, I’d be able to free up a space and add another important extracurricular to my application.

In theory,… You shouldn’t use what’s on your application in your essay… But I think there are some exceptions but you don’t have to list it if your going to explain it anyway… Use every line to let them know something new about you. Saying that, you also don’t need to fill up every possible line item with stuff. If your business Ec is going to be talked about as stated then put something else down on the Ec line… Got it. This way your not giving them the same information twice…

I agree with knowstuff. My older son, who graduated HS in ‘16, did something similar, but not ebay sales. He bought, grew and sold Twitter sites. He worked with people from all over the world for ad sales, marketing research and analysis, etc. he earned decent money for a high school kid but not enough to be real steady income. But he learned a ton and has several cool stories He did not use it as paid work. He did use it in supplemental essays. Good luck to you!

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Not sure whether this would be an issue: when applying for Questbridge, does your income from Ebay need to be included for their income limits for applicants?

probably but I know it won’t kick me out of the “low income” running

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