Not all taxpayers are specialized workers in only one field of study. Some taxpayers operate hobby businesses while others work two jobs to earn extra income. Regardless of the circumstance that drives your decision to take on two jobs, the truth is that having more than one job can cause a bit of a conundrum at tax time. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, makes it reasonably easy to resolve the issue.
In America, a federal income tax applies to all earnings in the amount designated by the tax rate. And since America employs a pay as you go tax system, wage earners have tax withheld from their pay while self-employed persons make quarterly estimated tax payments. At the end of the tax year, taxpayers assess whether they underpaid or overpaid their federal tax by filing an income tax return. On the return, they must list their taxable income and that amount is offset by credits, deductions and exemptions. Also included on the tax return is information on the taxpayer including his Social Security number, date of birth and occupation.
Average salaries for all professions are available through the Bureau Labor Statistics, or BLS. The bureau maintains a fair amount of these averages and means for comparison. The IRS uses your occupation entry as a tool for determining if you are misrepresenting your income. In addition, the entry adds a bit of context to the deductions and credits that you claim on your return. For instance, a business owner may have a great deal of losses during the year, so the losses listed on her schedule C make sense. But a store clerk wouldn't have business losses and thus, such an entry would raise a red flag with the IRS.
In the instructions for form 1040, it states that taxpayers are to date their returns and list their occupation(s). The fact that the IRS chose to use the plural versus the singular tense implies that taxpayers can write more than one occupation in the designated area. The IRS advises tax preparers that they can enter only the code of the occupation that produces the greatest amount of income. If you file a joint return, you have to list the occupation of both yourself and your spouse.
If you cannot properly define your occupation, enter a description instead of the name of the title of your occupation. You will also find that several headings cover a variety of employment types.