Do I have to pay taxes on kickstarter.com funding?

Chris Barsness,

startup, finance, law, and tech nerd

The question is more of timing of revenue recognition. 

In the new JOBS act type funding, it will be investment in equity, so there isn't really a tax issue for the issuer (there are some tax issues for the purchaser).  However, with current crowdfunding, whether, as discussed, it is treated as an advance sale of product, donation, gift, pledge, or otherwise, there will be tax consequences for the issuer/company. 

There are many complexities and variations, but basically any time the company receives money, they will owe a tax with the exception of loans or equity sales.  Normally gifts or donations are recognized as income to the person or company receiving the gift.  If it is treated as some form of advance purchase or otherwise, it would still be recognized as a form of income for the company. 

For the person giving money, they would probably want it to be considered a gift since they may be able to use a tax deduction for it.  This is normally only allowed for certain charitable giving or gifts to family members and there is also a limit on the deduction for the giver per year.  If your CPA can find a way to show it was a donation for allowable deductible giving, there is a benefit. 

For the company, they would want the income recognized when they have the most expenses (losses) to offset the income. 

These things may change over the next year or more since the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) is considering some changes to the US GAAP treatment of timing of revenue recognition in some of these newer business models.

See question on Quora

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