Is Jury Duty Pay Tax Exempt?

by Carol Luther

    Registered voters, licensed drivers and most property tax payers in the United States all have a good chance of receiving a summons for jury duty at a local or federal court. In return for your service during the jury selection process and during a trial, the court commonly pays you a token amount of money for each day of your service -- jury duty pay. You must declare this payment and include it in your total taxable income on your annual federal tax return. State tax laws vary.

    The amount of money the court pays jurors varies, and the time it takes to receive jury duty pay will depend on your court's procedures. When the court determines that your jury service is complete or postpones a trial and releases you, the court calculates the amount it owes you and pays you by check. Federal law prohibits jury duty payments to federal employees, but mandates continuation of the employee's salary during service.

    Although jury duty pay is often a nominal sum, keep a record of your payment amount and a copy of the check. The court might send you a summary of your payment for jury duty using a Form 1099 for miscellaneous income. When you receive a 1099, the Internal Revenue Service also receives a copy. Jurors who receive less than $600 in jury duty payments during one year are not likely to receive a 1099 from the court.

    When you file taxes using Form 1040, include jury duty pay in other income but exclude amounts the court provided for meals, travel, parking or hotel costs. On your 1040, enter the amount from your 1099, along with any other income that you declare on Line 21, such as lottery winnings and alimony. When calculating your gross income for the tax year, add the total on Line 21 to all of your other income sources such as salary and commissions. Consult your tax preparer about reporting requirements for local and state income tax returns.

    Although some states require your employer to pay your full salary while you are away from your job for jury service, federal law does not. Employers who do continue your salary often require that you give them the money you received from the court. In these instances, the IRS lets you offset the jury duty pay included in your gross income by deducting the amount you returned to your employer as an adjustment on Line 36 of Form 1040.

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    About the Author

    Carol Luther has more than 25 years of business and technical writing experience and 10 years of experience in international health project management, which includes child survival, youth AIDS and health systems information technology. Luther's work has appeared in "Diamond" magazine and online at Global Progress, Mahalo, Trazzler and Wcities. She has a master's degree in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

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