How to File Taxes for Instacart Shoppers?

Learn about the complexity of Instacart taxes for freelance shoppers, including categories and deductions. This guide equips individuals to manage the complex self-employment tax requirements, resulting in a stress-free tax season.
How to File Taxes for Instacart Shoppers
How to File Taxes for Instacart Shoppers?
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In the bustling landscape of the gig economy, where flexibility reigns supreme, full-service shoppers for platforms like Instacart find themselves navigating not just grocery aisles but also the complex realm of tax obligations. Whether zipping through city streets delivering goods or meticulously selecting items for customers, understanding the intricacies of Instacart taxes is paramount. Without a conventional HR department, freelancers must grapple with managing their taxes. 

How to File Taxes for Instacart Shoppers? In this guide, we unravel the nuances of filing taxes for Instacart shoppers, offering insights to empower freelancers to navigate the labyrinth of tax complexities. Check out Beem Tax Calculator to get a quick and accurate estimate of your federal and state tax refund

Understanding Instacart Taxes

Independent Contractor Status: Instacart shoppers are independent contractors who manage their income and self-employment taxes.

Tax Obligations: As self-employed, Instacart shoppers must accurately report earnings, maintaining meticulous records of income, expenses, and potential deductions.

1099-NEC Form: Instacart issues a crucial 1099-NEC form summarizing shoppers’ annual earnings, vital for accurate income-reporting tax returns.

Potential Deductions: Shoppers may qualify for deductions like mileage and phone bills. Detailed record-keeping is vital for maximizing deductions and reducing taxable income.

What is Instacart?

Instacart, a user-friendly grocery delivery app, transforms home shopping. Users browse, select items, and assign tasks to an Instacart shopper. This dedicated shopper navigates local stores, fulfills orders, and engages customers for suitable alternatives, providing a personalised and convenient grocery shopping experience from home.

How Taxes Work for Instacart Shoppers

Instacart shoppers’ tax obligations hinge on their in—store or complete—service role. In-store shoppers, treated as employees, follow a specific tax structure. In contrast, full-service shoppers, functioning as freelance delivery drivers, face independent contractor taxation. The IRS deems control over work details pivotal in this classification. Once identified, comprehending the tax implications becomes crucial. The following sections explore the intricacies of filing taxes for Instacart shoppers, tailoring guidance based on their employment status.

Information about Instacart Taxes

Employee vs. Independent Contractor: Instacart shoppers are categorized as in-store employees or full-service independent contractors. This classification significantly influences the tax framework applicable to each group.

IRS Guidelines for Classification: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides guidelines to determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor. Central to this determination is the level of control the payer exerts over the work details and execution.

In-Store Shoppers as Employees: In-store shoppers, considered Instacart employees, follow a tax structure aligned with traditional employment, including income tax withholding and potential eligibility for employee benefits.

Independent Contractors’ Tax Implications: Full-service shoppers operating as independent contractors are responsible for managing their taxes, including income tax, self-employment tax, and potential deductions for business-related expenses.

Types of Instacart Shoppers

Navigating Instacart taxes can be intricate, with distinctions based on whether you function as an in-store or full-service shopper, adding complexity to your tax situation.

Taxes for In-Store Shoppers

In-store Instacart employees have taxes withheld, akin to traditional workers. At tax time, they receive a W-2 summarising annual earnings. Exclusive in-store shoppers obtain regular pay stubs detailing withheld taxes, ensuring transparency and accountability in financial transactions with Instacart.

Taxes for Full-Service Shoppers

Full-service Instacart shoppers, handling delivery and in-store roles, face a complex tax landscape. Unlike in-store counterparts, they’re independent contractors, not employees, requiring them to manage tax filing and payments. Additionally, self-employment tax complexities add a layer to their financial tips considerations.

How Much to Set Aside for Instacart Taxes

The 15.3% self-employment tax for Instacart full-service shoppers can lead to significant IRS bills, catching new shoppers off guard. Mitigate financial surprises using a self-employment tax rate calculator to set aside funds accurately. Despite initial apprehension, strategic write-offs are crucial to reducing tax burdens. Explore the upcoming sections for detailed insights on optimizing financial planning and minimizing the impact of self-employment taxes.

Instacart 1099 Tax Forms and Deductions

Instacart provides 1099 tax forms by January 31, disclosing earnings for self-employed drivers. Drivers can leverage deductions to maximize tax efficiency, encompassing auto-related costs and additional expenses. This comprehensive approach allows Instacart shoppers to optimize their financial strategy and minimize taxable income.


Here are the most essential Instacart 1099 Tax Forms:

  • Obtain the 1099-NEC form for Instacart taxes, received by January 31 if you earned over £600 delivering groceries throughout the year.
  • Expect the form through email or snail mail, as Instacart utilizes an online delivery service.
  • The 1099-NEC discloses your total earnings on the platform, encompassing base pay and customer tips.
  • Remember that the IRS also receives a copy of this form, providing a detailed overview of your income.
  • Recognize that the 1099-NEC replaced the 1099-MISC in 2021 for reporting nonemployee compensation.
  • If you need to familiarize yourself with the transition from 1099-MISC, refer to our guide on 1099-NEC vs. 1099-MISC for a better understanding.
  • Stay informed about these tax forms, as they are pivotal in accurately reporting your income for tax purposes.

Deductions for Instacart Shoppers

Income Exemption: Fortunately, not all income on the 1099-NEC is taxable for the self-employed, allowing for deductions.

Business Expense Deductions: Self-employed individuals, especially side hustlers, can deduct business expenses from their income, reducing the taxable amount.

Common Oversight: Many self-employed individuals need to pay more attention to these write-offs, leading to potential overpayment to the IRS during tax time.

Expense Tracking Importance: To retain more earnings, meticulous tracking of work-related purchases is crucial.

Auto Expenses for Instacart Drivers: Full-service shoppers using their cars for business can deduct car-related costs, including gas, maintenance, repairs, inspections, car insurance, auto loan interest, vehicle depreciation, parking fees, tolls, and registration.

Expense Claim Methods: Auto expenses can be written off through mileage deductions or by deducting a percentage of actual car expenses.

Additional Deductible Expenses: Instacart shoppers can deduct other costs such as a bike, cell phone bills, phone accessories (e.g., car mounts, chargers), and a pushcart for groceries.

Resource for Ideas: For more deduction ideas, a comprehensive guide on write-offs for delivery drivers is recommended.

Expense Tracking App: To streamline the process, Keeper, an app utilizing software and human tax assistants, automatically scans purchases for potential write-offs.

Separation from Personal Deductions: Business-related write-offs are distinct from personal deductions (e.g., medical expenses, charitable donations) and can be claimed even if taking the standard deduction.

Standard Deduction Clarification: It’s important to note that business-related deductions can be claimed separately from personal deductions, even when opting for the standard deduction.

How to File Your Instacart Taxes?

Before filing, identify all applicable Instacart write-offs, including mileage, phone bills, and business-related expenses.

You’ll need to fill out three essential forms: Schedule C for income and expenses, Schedule SE for self-employment tax calculation, and Form 1040 for your income tax return.

Schedule C – Business Income and Expenses: Use Schedule C to determine your net earnings, incorporating your Instacart earnings and previously identified write-offs. Complete a separate Schedule C for each if you engage in multiple gigs.

Schedule SE – Self-Employment Tax: Schedule SE calculates the self-employment tax owed. Ensure a separate Schedule SE is completed for each contracted service, reflecting the diversity of your income streams.

Form 1040 – Individual Income Tax Return: Attach the completed Schedule C and Schedule SE to Form 1040, the standard tax return form for all taxpayers. You’ll only need to fill out one Form 1040.

Alternative Assistance with Keeper: If handling taxes independently seems overwhelming, consider using Keeper. The app offers a user-friendly platform for filing Instacart taxes directly from your mobile device, eliminating the hassle and ensuring accurate submissions.

Necessary Tax Forms for Instacart Shoppers

Besides the W2 or 1099 form for Instacart, access the following forms for tax software filing: Form 1040 summarises income and deductions.

Schedule C Details: Use Schedule C for a detailed breakdown of claimed deductions (expenses) like car, phone, and supplies.

Schedule SE Breakdown: Schedule SE provides a breakdown of Self-Employment Tax, aligning with our previous discussion on this topic.

Form 1040-ES for Quarterly Payments: Access Form 1040-ES to detail any quarterly tax payments made or planned, crucial for freelancers responsible for their tax payments.

Quarterly vs. Annually: When to Pay Instacart Taxes

Your Instacart taxes are nearly ready, but there’s a crucial detail: unlike W-2 employees, you may need to pay taxes in four batches throughout the year. Self-employed individuals expecting over $1,000 in taxes should adhere to these quarterly deadlines:

Q1  April 15
Q2 June 15
Q3 September 15
Q4 January 15

Utilize our calculator to estimate these payments based on your Instacart earnings, avoiding fees and penalties for missed deadlines. Understanding these nuances ensures a smooth tax season, preventing common mistakes and penalties for gig workers and independent contractors. Beem is the most comprehensive online tax filing service for all 50 states. Cheers to a stress-free tax filing experience! 


In summary, grasping Instacart taxes demands awareness of your employment status. In-store shoppers enjoy employee tax simplicity, whereas full-service shoppers tackle intricate self-employment taxes. Recognizing deductions and meeting quarterly deadlines is vital for tax season.


Do you have to pay taxes on Instacart?

Yes, Instacart shoppers are responsible for paying taxes on their earnings.

Will I get a 1099 from Instacart?

If you earn $600 or more in a tax year, Instacart will send you a 1099 tax form.

Will Instacart send me a W2?

Instacart sends W-2 forms only to in-store shoppers, not to full-service shoppers considered independent contractors.

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Team Beem

Team Beem brings you the latest in the world of personal finance to you. From tips and tricks on how to manage money to how to get cash for emergencies, Beem is your destination for all the information you need to be smart about your money.

This page is purely informational. Beem does not provide financial, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide financial, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied on for the same. Please consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transactions.

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