Consider the following (entirely realistic) scenario:
1) You create an account with Amazon Payments, enabling you to send
2) You send your wife/girlfriend/friend/dog $1000, paid from your
credit card, because you want to get the rewards points. You code the
transaction as "goods/services" because otherwise your credit card
company will charge you fees and interest. They of course give the
money back to you.
3) Amazon sends your wife/girlfriend/friend/dog a 1099 for $1000,
since that is the amount they receive for "goods/services."
Your co-conspirator of course has no income. I suspect the IRS will
be very understanding, they are not really out to create income where
none exists, and I'm sure they will be aware that the "scam" exists
and not care if Amazon and the credit card companies are taking it on
But how do you net out the money received on the recipient's taxes?
========================================= MODERATOR'S COMMENT:
did the recipient get the full $1000? Usually the commission/fee
negates the points/rewards the payer gets.
I don't have an Amazon payments account, but I do have couple of
Paypal accounts, which work the same way. They don't send anyone
a 1099, because they're not the payor, they're just the channel.
People use these systems all the time for stuff that is not income,
formal or informal expensse reimbursements, birthday gifts, and the
like. If something is income, it's up to the actual payee to send a
By the way, this is an extremely expensive way to get airline points,
because Amazon keeps about 3% of the amount transferred as their fee,
even when the payment isn't funded by a credit card. Paypal lets you
avoid fees for payments that are funded by your Paypal balance or by a
bank account, but it is exceedingly rare to find anyone who will let
you do a credit card transaction without paying a fee or interest.
In the few cases where it is possible, the frequent flyer community
(yes, there is one) is all over it immediately. Twenty years ago the
AAA would sell no-fee travellers checks and let you charge them to
your credit card as a purchase. There was apparently a guy in
Colorado who was buying upwards of $100K of checks every month, and
collecting both the points and the bank interest from the time he
deposited them in his bank and the time a month later when he paid the
credit card bill. (The bank presumably sent him a 1099 for the
interest they paid him, just like for any other savings account.)
More recently, the US Mint would sell you bags of dollar coins at par,
with free shipping, even. You had to take delivery of the coins,
which are very heavy, and spend them or take them down to the bank
and persuade them to let you deposit them, but there were people
lugging several thousand dollars worth down to the bank in a handtruck
each month until the Mint changed the rules.
The only similar hack I know of that still works is "stoozing." Some
banks will issue a no-fee balance transfer check payable to you, and
charge no interest if you pay your bill in full at the end of the
grace period. You deposit it and collect interest until you pay off
the card the next month. This may sound too good to be true, but I've
been doing regularly on my Capital One account for two years. See
I am part of the "Frequent Flier Community" (readers of this board
know that my wife lives in Canada and I live in the USA - 'nuff said)
- and yes, you outlined some of the methods. I won't call them
schemes or hacks or anything like that, because no one is doing
anything the system doesn't provide for. If various financial
providers are foolish enough to make rules that let the system be
gamed, they are at fault, not the user.
RIght now, you can send up to $1000 per month via an Amazon Payments
account from a credit card with no fees. I assume they are doing this
(a) to gain market share and (b) to hope that people, once they have
the money in their accounts, will recycle it back into the system or
spend it at Amazon. I don't think a similar method will work with
Paypal, and probably Amazon will close the loophole in time.
However, I saw a discussion on a frequent flier board indication that
Amazon could/would/might send 1099's to anyone with receipts over
$20,000 or 200 transactions. Nothing appeared to keep them from
sending a 1099 for a lesser amount. I have not tried clicking on
"cash advance" - but I think that if you do, it will process it as a
cash advance on your card, with possible transaction fees, interest
charged from the date of transaction, and no credit toward points or
minimum spending requirements on cards.
So I still wonder what would happen if Amazon sent a 1099 saying that
you got a certain amount of money, but it wasn't really income. It
does kind of seem like Amazon shouldn't do that, since Amazon isn't
the payor. But apparently their site says they will if you are over
I would not call it a "scam." It is a "loophole."
With Paypal, you cannot receive credit card payments unless you have a
"Premier" or "Business" account. These accounts charge fees on all
payments received, whether funded by a credit card or not.
Amazon does not. Yes, it is pretty clear that they are taking a hit
on this, and I suspect it is to build market share and to hope that
the money eventually recirculates in ways they will make a fee off
of. I wouldn't expect this loophole to last forever, and it's
possible they will monitor accounts to see if certain users are
exploiting it and close those accounts.
Keep in mind that if Jack sends money to Jill,and Jill sends it back
to Jack, they will first take the money from Jill to Jack out of the
funds in Jill's account. Jill has to receive the money, move it to a
bank account, then send money back from her credit card.
I was sending money to my wife. Almost as soon as I started, Amazon
started asking for more verification information on my wife. Of
course her situation is unique as none of her information is in the
system yet. (She just got her green card, SSN, and driver's license
within the past few weeks.) So the verification thingy may be real
and sensible, not a flag on the account.
I don't get the conspiracy. Your wife has to report 1k income, pay
federal, state, FICA tax on it. When she gives it back to you, it is
personal use and is not deductible on her Schedule C. The points on
1k is much less than the tax on 1k.
That is almost correct - the threshold is $20,000 AND 200 transactions.
And more importantly, the requirement refers to a 1099-K, not a
1099-MISC. A 1099-K does not necessarily imply that you received
income, only funds.
I was using the term "co-conspirator" lightly.
But I agree with Seth, unless the other person has actually performed
taxable services, what you told Amazon is irrelevant.
I think the distinction between 1099-K and 1099-Misc has answered my
In article ,
Take it to misc.legal.moderated. This is misc.taxes.moderated, and
the marital gift has no tax implications.
The wife does not have to report any taxable income resulting from
I am not a lawyer, but I expect this procedure is as least as criminal
as check kiting. Moreover, it is unlikely that the IRS will willingly
help you carry out your fraud. Do not expect a day in court to enforce a
Now that we have sorted out the fact that the for Amazon might send is
a 1099-K, which doesn't imply that there's income, could you explain
what fraud you believe has happened?
He tells Amazon to send $1000 to his wife, funded from his credit
card. Amazon does it, and for whatever reason pays the processing fee
that the underlying card processor charged. Where's the fraud?
While we're at it, I tell my credit card company to send me a large
"balance transfer" check payable to me, which I deposit in my bank
account, and they charge it to my credit card account. Six weeks
later, I pay off the card on the due date from the bank account,
avoiding any credit card interest charge, but leaving a modest amount
of earned interest in my bank account. Is that fraud? If so, why?
PS: That last example isn't hypothetical. See
Hmmn. I have to conclude that your mail program or perhaps web
browser is broken, since it appears to have prevented you from reading
this part of the message to which you were responding:
ObTaxes: my bank sends me 1099s for the interest I earn on the free
cash advances from my Capital One credit card.
Amazon's purpose is to help promote your business, which in turn will
generate more income for Amazon. You are evading the purpose of this
arrangement for your own benefit and to the detriment of Amazon.
and you will see a prominent box thatsays "No cash? Send money with Amazon Payments." Click on that, andyou will find a page that invites you to "Send money to your friendsand family using the payment information in your Amazon.com account."
For something to be fraud, there has to be a material
misrepresentation to the victim. What's been misrepresented here?
PS: This has a good summary of the elements required to prove fraud:
PPS: Perhaps we should move this to misc.legal.moderated.
is this the same service that the OP is speaking of?
9. How do I fund the payment?
You can fund your payment using the credit card on file or from your
As soon as you verify the bank account information added to your account,
you can add funds to your Available Balance. To add funds to your Available
Balance, follow these steps:
1.. Log in to your Amazon Payments account.
2.. Click the Deposit tab.
3.. Select your bank account from the drop-down menu.
4.. Enter the amount you want to transfer from your bank account to your
5.. Click Continue.
Note: You cannot add funds to your Amazon Payments account by using a credit
Appears to be.
Right, he's using it to send a payment to his wife.
Look, Amazon is not dumb. They know that if they offer a service that
lets clients do credit card payments at par, people will game it to
run up their frequent flyer points, just like they have every other
time that's been possible. But they also know that if they want to
get into the payments business, they have a long, long, way to go to
catch up with Paypal, and this is a calculated technique to gain
mindshare and marketshare. (Since we're talking about it, it must be
Also, if Amazon objects to the way someone is using their system, they
don't have to resort to legal threats. They can just close his
account. Since they haven't, we can assume that whatever he's doing
hasn't annoyed them enough to get their attention.