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eBay Tax Tips

Updated on September 14, 2014

eBay Sellers - Learn How to Save Money on Your Small Business Taxes!

Hey eBay sellers! Now that you're making a profit on eBay, you're probably wondering...

1. Do I have to report my eBay income?

2. What expenses can I deduct?

3. How can I minimize the taxes I pay on my eBay income?

If you want to learn how to minimize your taxes and keep more of your eBay profits, this is the place to be!

As a CPA and an eBay seller, I specialize in offering tax planning and advice to eBay sellers and other online business owners.

For even more tips, tools and articles on eBay and taxes, please visit the eBiz Tax Tips blog.

Are You Ready for the New 1099 Rules?

Starting in 2011, credit card merchants - including eBay, PayPal and Amazon among others - will have to start sending out 1099 forms to sellers who meet certain criteria. If you earn money online, whether it's selling items on eBay, selling your own product, or selling affiliate products, you may get a 1099 next year.

This bill has been years in the making; the original bill proposed that credit card processors be required to file 1099s for each seller that had at least $10,000 in gross sales and 200 transactions. The numbers in the final bill are a bit different - you must have at least $20,000 in gross sales and 200 transactions before credit card merchants are required to send you a 1099, so less people will be affected than originally thought.

1099 Reporting Deadline Approaching Quickly...

Did you hire an eBay assistant, or a graphic designer, or virtual assistant to help in your business this year? If so, you may need to file a 1099 for that person. IRS Form 1099 is used to report various income sources, such as income earned by independent contractors. As an eBay business owner, you could get a 1099 from another person if you provided them services, or you may need to provide a 1099 to another person if they provided services to you.

The 1099 deadline is January 31st. You must provide copies of form 1099 to each recipient who meets the requirements, as well as copies to the IRS. To learn more, please visit Reporting 1099 Income.

The Ultimate eBay Spreadsheet!

If you've been looking for an easy way to keep track of your eBay sales and fees, then you've found it!

Easy Auctions Tracker is the Ultimate Excel spreadsheet solution for eBay sellers and Trading Assistants. This spreadsheet doesn't calculate your fees, it actually COLLECTS your transaction information from your eBay account for you!

Easy Auctions Tracker is fully automated and has been Tested & Certified by eBay as a compatible application. By using this spreadsheet, you will be able to quickly collect and record your transactions (sold items and unsold items) without the need to manually enter the information.

With the simple click of a button, Easy Auctions Tracker is able to collect all the information for an entire month's worth of sales from eBay's servers for you. No need to know the item numbers of the sold items, just select the month & year then click the "Get All Items" button.

As an accountant and tax professional who works with eBay sellers, I can say that this spreadsheet will make your bookkeeping and thus your tax preparer's job much easier! Which will mean less time and lower fees for you.

I was excited to find this worksheet and recommend it for eBay sellers who want to track their sales and associated fees in a spreadsheet, but don't want to spend hours entering the information manually.

Ebay and PayPal Must Report to the IRS

Buried deep in the housing act that was just passed is a provision that requires credit card processors - including companies like eBay and PayPal - to report annual gross receipts of it's merchants to the IRS.

Credit card processors will be required to file Form 1099 for each merchant that has at least $10,000 in gross sales and 200 transactions.

Companies have until 2011 to comply with this new law.

The purpose of this new law is to raise revenue for the housing recovery package and to close the tax gap that exists. The IRS estimates that it loses billions of dollars in tax revenue from small businesses who under-report (or don't report) income.

While I'm worried that this new law will cause the cost of business for small and online business owners to go up (in the form of higher eBay fees, higher PayPal fees, etc.), I also think that all small business owners should pay their fair share of taxes (I pay my taxes, why shouldn't all small business owners?).

eBay & Taxes

What's Your Biggest Question About eBay & Taxes?

See results

Q&A: Do I Have to Pay Tax on Personal Items Sold on Ebay?

Q: I started selling items from around my home that I don't want anymore on eBay. I am selling BELOW what I paid for these items. I'm not trying to make a profit, I'm just trying to get rid of items no longer wanted. Is this considered a business? Do I have to report my eBay sales to the IRS?

A: Selling personal items at a loss is not a business activity, so you don't have to worry about keeping track of or reporting this activity on your tax return.

The IRS will not allow you to claim a loss for personal items sold on eBay. However, the minute you purchase something with the intent of selling on ebay for a profit, you've got a business, and then you DO need to start keeping track of and reporting your activity.

Note: if you sell both personal items and items that you bought specifically to resell, then you should report the personal items sold as well, but use the sales price as the cost so you don't show a loss for these items. Or, you could setup a separate eBay account and use one for personal use, the other for business use - that's probably the best solution.

Reporting 1099 Income

If you do affiliate marketing, internet marketing, or work as an independent contractor, then instead of a W-2, you will receive a Form 1099-MISC reporting your earnings.

However the company is not required to file this report unless you receive $600 or more in income. Also, currently eBay does not give out 1099 forms, so if your income is strictly from eBay, you won't receive a Form 1099.

The good news is that as an internet marketer or an independent contractor you get to deduct expenses against this income, assuming the expenses are necessary to run your business.

Report your income from your 1099 and any associated expenses on either Schedule C-EZ or Schedule C. This schedule is then attached to your Form 1040.

Q&A: Do I Need to Collect Sales Tax?

Q: Do I collect sales tax on all my sales or just those I sell in my home state? And does this tax money get claimed as income and then expensed as a deduction?

A: This is a great question and one that I get often!

Currently, online business owners and eBay sellers are not required to collect sales taxes on items that are sold and shipped to customers in another state. If the state the eBay seller or business is located in has a state or local sales tax, then you are supposed to collect sales tax on items sold and delivered to the same state, but you do not have to collect sales taxes on sales to customers located in another state.

Sales tax collected is not income, and sales tax remitted to the state is not an expense. So for tax purposes, you should not claim the sales tax you collect as income, and likewise, you should not deduct sales taxes remitted to the state as a deduction.

Top 5 Missed Business Tax Deductions

I spoke about tax tips for small business owners at a seminar this past weekend, and one of the questions I got was 'what are the top missed business deductions?'

This is a great question, so here goes...

1. Automobile expenses - if you use your car for business, you can deduct a portion of your car expenses. You can either keep track of and deduct your (business related) actual expenses, or you can keep track of your business miles and use the standard mileage rate (55 cents per mile in 2009).

2. Startup expenses - business expenses incurred before you actually start the business used to have to be depreciated over 5 years. Starting after October 22, 2004, you can now deduct up to $5,000 of startup expenses in the first year of business. Startup expenses over $5,000 still have to be depreciated (over 15 years). Startup expenses include advertising, hiring employees, purchasing equipment, supplies and more.

3. Education expenses - you can deduct the cost of classes, seminars and other education costs if they are related to your current business.

4. Travel - when you travel for business, you can deduct the cost of the airfare, taxis, hotel, meals, and other travel related expenses. If part of your trip is for personal reasons, you may need to prorate part of the expenses. Also, if you bring your family along, only your own expenses are deductible.

5. Home office expense - many people choose not to take this deduction because it is considered a red flag. If you have a legitimate home office, then you should not miss out on this deduction just because someone says it could be a red flag (being self employed is a red flag, but you wouldn't not go into business because someone says you're more likely to get audited as a small business owner, would you?). Home office expenses include mortgage interest, real estate taxes, home owners insurance, utilities, and security alarm. You can only deduct the portion that represents your home office, but this can be a substantial deduction for many home based business owners.

eBay, Dropshipping and Sales Tax

Many eBay sellers use dropshippers to sell/deliver products. A reader recently asked if she was required to collect sales taxes on items shipped to the same state her dropshipper is located in, if she does not live and operate her business in that same state.

For example, lets say your dropshipper is located in Texas, but you live and operate your business in Florida. A customer in Texas purchases an item and it is delivered to Texas from the dropshipper in Texas. Do you need to collect Texas sales tax on this transaction?

This is a gray area, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it change in the future. But for now, you pay sales tax on items that you ship to the state where your primary business is located. So if you live and operate your business in Florida, you only pay sales tax when you ship items to customers in Florida.

Your dropshipper in Texas may try to charge you sales tax for orders that are placed in/shipped to Texas because their warehouse is located in Texas (and therefore they are subject to Texas sales tax laws). To avoid this, you should get a resellers certificate and supply it to your dropshipper.

However, every state has different sales tax laws, so for additional information you should contact your state's department of revenue.

Is Your eBay Income Taxable?

If you sell items on eBay for a profit, then you may owe income taxes on those profits. It doesn't matter if you sell on eBay as a hobby or if you are trying to build a profitable eBay business.

Generally, any income you receive from all sources is subject to income tax unless it is specifically exempt by law (hint: profits from an eBay business are not exempt).

You must file a tax return if your net earnings from self employment are $400 or more. You are self employed if you carry on a trade or business for profit. If you sell on eBay, you are generally trying to make a profit, and you therefore have a business.

To report your eBay earnings on your tax return, file Form 1040, and attach Schedule C or C-EZ. Schedule C is used to calculate your net profit or loss from your business, which is then reported on your Form 1040.

Top 10 Tax Deductions for eBay Sellers

Many eBay sellers ask me, "what expenses can I deduct against my eBay income?"

Because eBay sellers pay income tax and self employment tax on their eBay profits, it's important to get all the tax deductions you are entitled to.

Here are the top 10 income tax deductions for eBay businesses:

1. Inventory or product purchased for resale

2. eBay fees

3. PayPal fees

4. Postage and delivery

5. Supplies

6. Bad debts (for those non-paying bidders)

7. Advertising

8. Mileage (trips to the office supply store, post office, etc.)

9. Telephone (cell phone, second line, fax)

10. Bank charges

San Diego Man Sentenced for Failing to Pay Taxes on eBay Sales

If you haven't been reporting and paying taxes on your eBay sales, now might be a good time to start. As you can see by the following article, the IRS is serious about cracking down on taxpayers who make money online but don't pay taxes on their eBay or other online income.

SAN DIEGO - A former San Diego police officer who failed to pay taxes on money he made by selling stolen property on eBay was sentenced today to 21 months of home confinement and was ordered to pay $220,000 in restitution.

James Estrella, 48, pleaded guilty a year ago to federal income tax evasion charges. At the time, he was on probation after pleading guilty in state court on Dec. 2, 2004, to four felony counts of receiving stolen property.

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez said he could have put Estrella in prison, but it was more important for the defendant to pay back what he owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Do You Need a Tax ID Number for Your eBay Business?

EBay sellers who are sole proprietors are not necessarily required to get a tax identification number, but it may be a good idea to have one.

A tax identification number or an EIN (employer identification number) is a nine-digit number that is assigned by the IRS to businesses to be used when filing tax returns, hiring employees, and for setting up qualified retirement plans. Many banks require an EIN to apply for a loan or to setup a business bank account as well.

You can get your EIN by completing IRS Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number, which is available at the IRS website ( You should also check with your state to see if you are required to get a state ID number.

IRS Circular 230

Disclaimer: Any tax advice contained in this message is not intended to be used and cannot be used by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. It is strongly recommended that you get additional help from a (paid) tax professional who is familiar with your unique circumstances. In other words, don't take take advice from a Squidoo lens, or forum, or blog...

What questions do you have about eBay and taxes?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I need help with this too! Thanks. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a 1099 rules form, I found a blank form here

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 

      6 years ago from Houston

      Looking for info on how to handle personal items and it looks like you may have answered it.

    • Mr Criminology profile image


      6 years ago from Philippines

      I merely want to buy from eBay but its nice to know things cited above for who knows I might sell one day

    • profile image

      mouse1996 lm 

      6 years ago

      Great information. I'm not planning to sell on Ebay but this information is very helpful for what I do plan on doing.

    • TheFreeLife profile image


      6 years ago

      Very informative lens! Thanks for taking the time to put this on here!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      thanks for the useful tips

    • craig57 lm profile image

      craig57 lm 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for the helpful tips!

    • collierlewisjew profile image


      7 years ago

      very helpful! thank you so much!

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing all these helpful tips and resources. ~~Blessed~~

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      owed this year. would have bought myself a laptop if I did not owe.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @Wednesday-Elf: You should consider other options as well. I would try to sell on craigslist then move on to ebay if your not getting any hits. Craigslist is free and just as good, I talk about posting it on craigslist posting tipsalso to help new sellers.

    • priscillab profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow- I was just saying today that I wish I knew someone who could answer my questions and I found the answers here. Thank you. I will be revisiting this lens again.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image


      7 years ago from New Jersey

      nice lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The content is superb. Highly helpful even for experienced eBay business people. Carry on!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Very helpful article. I'm just beginning to sell on eBay and am glad to have these facts. Thanks.

    • profile image


      7 years ago


      Good information on tax preparation. Good choice of squidoo to select it as LOTD. Even i had this monthly hassle of tax. But now all thanks to Turbo Tax Discount Coupons. to save my expenses.


      Carol Dsouza

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My 22 year old daughter and I share our ebay business. But only my social sec.number is used in paypal. She is more of a partner than just an employee. How do I handle this.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm an ebay trading assistant. I sell excess inventory for a computer networking company. I collect all monies due from buyer less commission and the rest goes back to my consignor. Do I pay taxes on the gross amount collected from buyer or my commission? What tax form do I fill out?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I noticed this while visiting another of your lenses. Great info for those of us making some eBay money. Well done and informative.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      WOW! Thanks for sharing your ideas and tips with the squid community. This is a fantastic lens! Keep up the great work.

      One big thumbs up vote given for this lens.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very well written, I have observed some of lenses, which is really awesome, Here i am looking and collecting great lenses list and want to publish one lens. Thanks

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      If you are looking for such software that can do famous keeping of tax information for you that you may consider personal finance packages such as Speed (From Intuit) of Microsoft Money. I mentioned this software is because I used them both, also I know that they are easy to use and most significantly very easy to learn. accountancy firms

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice post. But there are some aspects of accountancy which you can not do it yourself anymore. Not agree with me then google "problems with iXBRL". For more business start up deals please visit

    • ramonabeckbritman profile image


      8 years ago from Arkansas

      Very informative lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • nadjaiskeniskie profile image


      8 years ago

      Brilliant lens. Now to get my record keeping properly organized. Ty.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have a questions. How come I can't collect sales taxes from all the state if I have to paid taxes at year end due to the 1099 law? Instead of cutting in to my profits. The customers should paid for this tax not us.

    • javr profile image


      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Returned to bless your lens.

    • SummersSorbet profile image


      8 years ago

      Fabulous lens!! Great answers to questions everybody has to selling/profiting online. I will refer back often - thanks!

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      No questions as of now, but these tax laws are going to be very difficult for sellers. Thanks for providing all of this information. Blessed.

    • UKGhostwriter profile image


      8 years ago

      Very good!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @KimGiancaterino: Hey Kim. I would suggest contacting the taxpayer advocates office the next time something like this happens There are special provisions that deal with situations like yours where an auditor wakes and realizes he hates his life and tries to take it out on taxpayers!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm 18 and a full time student in the UK.

      I started selling on eBay December 2010, for profit, and have made a profit of £540 ($865) since then, although I sold £1700 ($2700) worth of stock and have had this passing through PayPal and bank account.

      Do I have to worry about tax?


    • dawnsantiquesan profile image


      8 years ago

      Great info thanks!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very helpful and informative ebaytaxtips,thanks for

    • EbizTaxTips LM profile imageAUTHOR

      EbizTaxTips LM 

      8 years ago

      @KimGiancaterino: Wow, that's horrible! Amazing how nasty some of those IRS people can be... probably because they hate their jobs!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      8 years ago

      Great choice for LOTD. We have an excellent CPA who stays on top of the latest rules and regulations. I was audited once and it was not a pleasant experience. I had a part-time job as a fitness instructor, and the nasty auditor denied my legitimate business deductions and also heaped on a bunch of outrageous fees. I ultimately went through 3 auditors, and the last one was a nice guy who gave me a break. Nevertheless, I ended up quitting my business after 7 years.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank for the information very useful.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      tax = Gayus Tambunan

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have been thinking of opening a store on ebay. This has been helpful! Thanks!

    • dryder profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens ... congrats on getting LOTD!

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 

      8 years ago

      These are Great eBay Tax Tips Thank You

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 

      8 years ago

      Thank You These are Great Ebay Tax Tips and Congrats on Lens of the Day!!

    • mistyblue75605 lm profile image

      mistyblue75605 lm 

      8 years ago

      Wow very informative!! Thanks! Congrats on LOTD

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very helpful lens and congrats on the lens of the day. good job

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Congrats on a well-deserved LOTD. This is very helpful. Love the hire your kids idea...

    • Glenn619 profile image


      8 years ago

      hey nice lens, congrats for being chosen as lens of the day

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Congrats for being chosen as the LOTD! :D

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      very useful info !! Congrats on LOTD!!

    • Retro Loco profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Very helpful & thorough lens! I've got it bookmarked to refer back to. I'm going to start selling lots of retro stuff on eBay this year, and I know this lens will be a huge help when I start doing taxes! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. Congratulations on LOTD!!! ~Vicki~

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for the useful information.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      useful tips on ebay tax, great work!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow! An incredible amount of good info! *Blessed by a Squid Angel*

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ebayers will get a lot out of this. Great information. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      you did a great job on this lens, it has great information that people can use.

    • photofk3 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens with useful content, thank you.

    • pylemountain1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens, very informative. Congrats on your LOTD award!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a great lens and very informative. Thanks!

    • natashaely profile image


      8 years ago

      Amazing tips, great lens, congrats on being LOTD! :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      great tips! We have a canadian corporation and we do a little business on ebay. I wonder how that works?

    • supercibor lm profile image

      supercibor lm 

      8 years ago

      Amazing tips !

    • onlinebusiness11 profile image


      8 years ago

      congrats on LOTD. Nice

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      8 years ago

      Boy my head is spinning, Congratulations on LOTD. Very detailed excellent information here.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the concise and helpful tax information. I learned a lot.

    • LouieWrites profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens, congrats on the LOTD!

    • caketech profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, lots of great info here! Congrats on LOTD!

    • Judy Goldsberry profile image

      Judy Goldsberry 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for such valuable information.

    • norma-holt profile image


      8 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD and it is now featured on Squidoo LOTD Lenses. Well done and great lens,

    • george185 lm profile image

      george185 lm 

      8 years ago

      Great lens. I learned a few things. Thanks and congrats on lens of the day.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      8 years ago

      Great information. Welcome to the LOTD club!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Good advice. Congrats on getting LOD!

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for the thoughts on taxes and other tips about ebay income. See you around the galaxy...

    • nebby profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Interesting information. I don't sell on eBay but it's always nice to know just in case.

      Congratulations on LOTD.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks! This is a GREAT lens!

    • jnstewart profile image

      John Norman Stewart 

      8 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      Very useful lens. Thanks for sharing the info.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Informative lens - thanks! Congrats on LOTD :-)

    • Mix Mafra profile image

      Michelle Mafra 

      8 years ago from Corona CA

      Great Lens. As an ebay seller I will have to take my time an read this one detail by detail. I am taking all my books to my accountant next month so it wlill be great to be on the top of my game. Thank you very much for combining all the info into 1 informational lens. Great job.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Congrats on LOTD! Help with taxes is always appreciated.

    • JanieceTobey profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for this tax information!

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      8 years ago from California

      Excellent information. I have to keep track of several companies, a trust and a non-profit so I prefer Quick Books. I used to do my own tax returns but the tax laws change so often, I pay my CPA to keep up with them and save me money, time and headaches. Congrats on the LOD. Well deserved. Bear hugs, Frankster

    • kathys55 profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice lens, congrats on LOTD!

    • Lady Gotrocks profile image

      Lady Gotrocks 

      8 years ago

      Been paying taxes on my ebay income for 8 years. Always knew the IRS would catch up with this cash cow.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Great LotD, lots of valuable information on taxes - just what I need LOL!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice lens, congrats on LOTD!

    • LauraMarie LM profile image

      LauraMarie LM 

      8 years ago

      Well done on LOTD. This is a great resource for ebay sellers who need to file their ebay income

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Learned something new...thanks...I have been selling on eBay since 1999. Congrats on LOTD

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very helpful useful information. Congrats on being LOTD.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      congrats.. good info

    • mich1908 profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the informative lense. Congrats.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      8 years ago from Concord VA

      Thanks for the great information! Congratulations on LotD!!

    • ludyshubs profile image


      8 years ago

      Very valuable information. Thank you

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      8 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks for a super informative lens. Really learned a great deal that I can use immediately. Kudos on LOTD!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I'm glad I have a tax man at my beck and call. Really, though, if you read the rules it isn't all that difficult to file a Schedule C (in the U.S.). Just keep good records! Congratulations on your Lens of the Day!

    • modz profile image


      8 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD!

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 

      8 years ago

      This is such a great resource. **Blessed** and featured on My Time as a Squid Angel :)

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 

      8 years ago

      Great lens. I can see why it was chosen as LOTD. Congratulations.

    • mivvy profile image


      8 years ago

      Very inteersting and very useful information. Congrats on your LOtD on your

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Well deserved Lens of the Day status due to excellent and helpful information.

    • Richard-H profile image


      8 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Congrats on LOTD! Very useful info.

    • Jhangora LM profile image

      Jhangora LM 

      8 years ago

      Useful Lens, even though I do not reside in the United States. Nearing my first year as a full time Internet and Affiliate marketer. Need to file my IT return this year. Thanx a lot for sharing the tips and congrats on LOTD!

    • Airinka profile image


      8 years ago

      very useful lens


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