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Can I sell on Ebay and and still collect unemployment?

by MP
(Buffalo, NY)

Can I sell on Ebay and and still collect unemployment?

I've been out of work in NY since Jan. '08, took a PT job for 5 mo. and was laid off from there also. UI lowered my weekly rate by $50 after refiling because of the PT work and I have searched again since April and continue to do so everyday. Being an older person in my 50s, it is even more difficult. This decrease has more than put me in a hole. My question is, with the "new law" I have read about concerning PayPal giving the IRS all information for 2010 taxes, can I still sell online and collect unemployment without being penalized or having my UI taken away? For some of us, this is the only way we are keeping our head above water. I am not concerned about paying the taxes which I would do, it's losing UI that is my main concern. I usually concentrate on this in the evenings. I am an artist and sell some art items as well as general things. Thank you for you answer.

Hi MP,

You have asked a GREAT question!!

I had to go out and find out what the "new law" was though:)

The central issue as I see it is what income are you required to report while collecting benefits to avoid any possibility of a denial for unemployment fraud
or overpayment notice.

In my state, they actually tell you, if you look hard enough, that you should report all money earned including "babysitting and mowing lawns".

I quite frankly, do not see how they'd know if a person got paid for these types of jobs .. but when it comes to the supplemental money earned by selling your art or crafts on Ebay and etsy .. I'd be very careful about reporting it scrupulously.

It's a matter of how the government detects unemployment fraud. Some of it is a big mystery, but given what little I know about the buying, selling and possible "sharing" of databases and now what I read about the "new IRS law" .. I'd report it.

I don't know how much you are earning from your sales, but every state first disregards a certain amount of any money you do earn in a week before they start reducing you benefit amount dollar for dollar. This amount can be found for each state by clicking "monetary eligibility" and going to table 3-8 on this page.

I thank you for your question. It brings up a real concern for those trying to be self sufficient, only to find out they may stand to lose more than they gain for their efforts.

It also brings up further questions about how the unemployment department becomes aware of what we're doing .. but that's another topic.

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Jul 24, 2018
I used Ebay to clean my basement out while collecting unemployment too.
by: Chris -

Back in 2006 after I was laid off, I really did clean my basement of all the good stuff we had stored down there. I did not report what I made on ebay when claiming benefits, because it wasn't wages I was earning, but it was former money we had spent, being recouped from things we owned and no longer used, or wanted.

I also decided to start a website around the same time about unemployment benefits, of all things. And for me, knowing my state's rules about having to prove you held down a full time job concurrently while being in business for yourself, presented a possible situation (should I earn any money from coaching, referrals, or those darn passive ads people can now block, to play it safe and avoid any/all potential for earning from this website .. until late in 2009.

As luck, or bad luck would have it, I went back to work at my old job in late 2006. I continued working as a hearing coordinator until 2009, when the time finally came for me to voluntarily quit with good cause.

I collected benefits for about four months while enduring my employer fighting me when they appealed those benefits, all the way to the board of review.

When the employer's board appeal was finally dismissed, I felt exhausted and that help me to make an informed decision to stop collecting the benefits. It was the only way I saw to free myself from all the rules that go along with continuing eligibility to receive benefits.

In other words I'd finally had enough of UIBs for myself and said to hell with the remaining claim balance, primarily because I was bound and determined to try to earn money from Unemployment Tips .. which was doing pretty good then .. at least traffic wise.

I actually started earning quickly via those things I listed above, but the key word here is I was actually earning money .. vs. just selling off a basement full of personal possessions to help us survive while I was unemployed.

In 2006, I actually considered selling some of my artistic endeavors vs. just figuring out how to build a website for it's own sake, but for me, that would of meant conducting an honest to goodness business .. which would of also forced me to not collect benefits .. at a time when all we needed to do was survive until I got another job.

Is the money taxable earnings for a business, or some sort of IC self-employment .. or is it really just selling something you own .. personally?


Jul 24, 2018
eBay selling and unemployment - In the same boat as you exactly
by: Anonymous

I’m dealing with the same issue.. after reasearching what I could (I left a message with my UI caseworker but he never returned my call although I said what my question regarded).
What I’ve found is this: if you are running a "business" which is described as "how much time you spend doing this; if you buy items to re-sell them (that’s a key factor); and essentially how much money you’re making. If you are like me - selling items I already own (some are gifts, some have been fully paid for by me and some are contest prizes), most of which I have already paid taxes on, even the contest prizes.. and what Im using the money for is a new computer and purchasing used work clothes on the same site, all to help me find a new job! I too do not mind to pay taxes on the money (again) but I’m hoping my benefits do not get hurt, I have even tried to call IRS but can never get thru. My email got bounced back so I believe they don’t have an email address anymore either. Its a shame a persons right to sell their personal items to essentially exchange them for other goods has become so worrisome! In any event, I feel you & please update if you hear anything further.

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