Rover Taxes 101 for Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters

by
Jesus Morales-Grace, EA
Updated 
September 21, 2022
May 20, 2022
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Reviewed by
Sarah York, EA

Caring for pets through Rover can be an amazing experience, not to mention a great source of income. Dealing with your Rover taxes, on the other hand, might have you feeling a little ruff — especially if you’re not sure where to start.

This guide makes it easy to complete your Rover tax forms and write off related expenses! Read on to learn all about calculating your taxes as a pet sitter, dealing with your Rover 1099, and more.

Contents

What Rover taxes do you need to pay?

As a Rover gig worker, you’re considered self-employed by the IRS. This means you’ll have to pay self-employment tax on your Rover earnings, at a rate of 15.3%. You’ll also have to pay federal and state income tax on those earnings.

If you have a full-time job and a Rover side hustle, you’ll pay income tax on the combined income from both, with the exact rate depending on your tax bracket. The 15.3% self-employment tax, though, only applies to your Rover earnings (as well as any other gig work you do, whether that’s dog sitting on Wag! or driving for Uber.)

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Why are Rover taxes so high?

To break this down a bit more: a direct employer would normally take 7.65% out of your paycheck for what’s called FICA tax. This goes towards Social Security taxes (6.2%) and Medicare taxes (1.45%). Your employer then matches your FICA contribution out of their own pocket, bringing the total up to 15.3% of your earnings.

As a gig worker, though, you’re considered self-employed — in other words, a business owner. This means you’re responsible for both the employer and employee portions of your FICA contribution. That’s right — you’re paying the full 15.3% by yourself. A lot of gig workers don’t know about this when they’re first starting out. Good thing you’re reading this guide!

Does Rover take out taxes automatically?

Rover doesn’t take out any of your taxes automatically — not your FICA taxes, and not your state or federal income taxes either. That’s true of all gig work companies, which bring on independent contractors rather than direct employees. 

Maybe you’re already thinking, “Do I really have to keep track of all this myself?” In fact, you don’t! With Keeper Tax, you can enter your info and file taxes through the app — self-employment tax and deductions included. It’s easy to use, designed for workers just like you.

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Good news: There’s a clear-cut way to tell if a company will take out (or “withhold”) your taxes. If they issue you a W-2 form, it means they do withhold taxes for you. If you don’t get a W-2, you’ll have to file your own self-employment taxes.

Hot tip: If you have a W-2 job and side income from Rover, consider asking your employer to increase your tax withholding to cover the additional income. This will save you from a fat tax bill when you finally file. 

Rover, just to be clear, does not issue W-2s. But it does issue 1099s — which is exactly what we’ll discuss next.

Which tax forms do you need to file Rover taxes?

If you make over $600 as a Rover dog sitter in a calendar year, you should receive a 1099 form early the following year. (It’s due by January 31st, which means it might land in your mailbox in February or even March.)

You’ll also need to report your Rover earnings on your 1040 income tax return, for which you’ll fill out Schedule C and Schedule SE. (Don’t worry — we’ll go over all of this!)

Keep in mind: You may need to file even if you earn less than $600 a year from Rover and don’t receive a 1099 from them. It’s required as long as you earned more than $400 from your self-employment.

Let’s dig into the details of these Rover tax forms below.

1099-NEC for direct deposit or checks

Those who get paid directly through their bank account or via check should receive a 1099-NEC form from Rover itself. You’ll get a paper copy in the mail and an electronic copy emailed to you via the Tax1099 platform.

Like all 1099 forms, your 1099-NEC is due by January 31st. If you’ve cashed more than $600 in checks or gotten more than $600 in direct deposits from Rover but don't receive this 1099 by March, go ahead and contact Rover directly.

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1099-K for PayPal payments

As of 2022, freelancers and gig workers who receive at least $600 a year through a third-party payment network like PayPal will get a 1099-K form. As a Rover sitter, that could mean you!

If Rover pays you through PayPal, you’ll get a 1099-K from PayPal itself. By January 31st, you’ll be able to log onto PayPal to find it in your online tax statements. If January’s come and gone and you still can’t access digital 1099-K, get in touch with PayPal support ASAP.

Alternatively, you can choose to receive it in the mail — in which case, it might arrive a little after the end of January.

1040 for total income and deductions

Once your Rover 1099s are in hand, you can turn to your annual 1040.

Again, if you’ve made $400 or more through Rover, you have to report your Rover earnings here. This is where you’ll calculate both your income tax and that all too crucial self-employment tax.

As a self-employed worker, you’ll need to fill out two parts of your 1040: Schedule C and Schedule SE. You’ll use these to determine: 

  • 💸 How much you can deduct from your taxes
  • 💰 The final income and self-employment taxes you’ll pay

On that note, let’s move on to the fun part — what you can deduct as a Rover worker!

Rover tax deductions: What you can write off

You might be surprised by the variety of write-offs for Rover dog walkers and pet sitters. Here are some possible expenses to include in your Schedule C form:

  • 🥣 Kibble or wet food
  • 🦴 Bones and extra treats
  • 🎾 Dog toys (tennis balls, chew toys, frisbees, etc.)
  • 😸 Cat toys (squeaky toys, chase toys, etc.)
  • 🦮 Leash and/or harness
  • 💩 Poo bags (and dispensers!)
  • 👢 Rubber boots for rainy walks or muddy check-ins
  • 🚲 Bike and/or public transport expenses
  • 🚗 Gas and other car expenses if you drive

Keep in mind: What you can deduct depends on the types of services you offer through the Rover app.

For example, if you work with both cats and dogs in pet sitting and walking capacities, you can probably deduct almost everything on that list. But if you only walk the occasional dog (no pet sitting and no cat care at all), then you shouldn’t deduct food, cat toys, or excessive dog toys or treats.

Basically, use your best judgment. If you didn’t buy it for your Rover work, don’t deduct it from your taxes.

And if all this sounds like a lot to remember, don’t worry — Keeper Tax can find your Rover deductions for you. Whether you’re a casual once-a-month cat sitter or a career dog walker, make sure you’re getting the write-offs you deserve.

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When to file your Rover taxes

Though you’ll only need to deal with the forms above once a year, you may have to pay your Rover taxes four times per year. We call these extra responsibilities “estimated” or “quarterly” taxes.

We advise filing quarterly taxes if you expect to owe at least $1,000 a year in taxes on your Rover income. If your tax liability is going to be less than that, then you can just pay Rover taxes in April, along with your regular income tax. (Not sure whether you should be making these extra payments? You can find out by using our free quarterly tax calculator!)

If you should be making quarterly payments, take note of these quarterly tax deadlines:

  • 🌷 April 15th (First)
  • 🏖️ June 15th (Second)
  • 🍁 September 15th (Third)
  • 🌲 January 15th of the following year (Fourth)

Paying taxes so often can be a pain. But if your gig work income is high enough that you owe at least $1,000 in taxes, you can be penalized for not paying quarterly. You don’t want to part with more of your hard-earned cash than absolutely necessary — or sour the sweet memories you’ve made with your new furry friends!

So when it comes to your Rover taxes, stay on top of them. That way you can keep doing what you love without the IRS barking up your tree. Keep it paws-itive, and best of luck!

Jesus Morales-Grace, EA

Jesus Morales-Grace, EA

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Jesus Morales is an Enrolled Agent and has 7 years of bookkeeping and tax experience. He enjoys hiking, traveling, and studying tax law.

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At Keeper Tax, we’re on a mission to help freelancers overcome the complexity of their taxes. That sometimes leads us to generalize tax advice. Please email support@keepertax.com if you have questions.