This is quite unbelievable and will make some website owners consider whether claiming their Google AdSense income is really worth it.
A woman in New York who was recently laid off from her position as a lawyer at a prominent law firm, decided to create a food blog (STL Meal Deals) where she frequently posts restaurant offers and recommendations.
After signing up for Google AdSense to earn a few cents per day for her efforts, she decided to claim her earnings with the New York State Department of Labor, which worked out to be $238.75 over a period of six months.
The department initially told her that claiming AdSense earnings would not affect her $405-a-week benefits.
But the woman had her unemployment payouts suspended while the department investigated whether the Google AdSense money should be classified as “residual.”
The department told Forbes Magazine that the idea of advertising income from blogs and websites is still “uncharted territory.”
While the investigation continued, the woman removed the AdSense adverts from the blog, saying she is frustrated at being “treated with suspicion and punished”.
But this story comes to a happy ending, as the woman posted on her blog yesterday that her benefit payments have since been reinstated.
The final decision was that my blog was not a business and was not being run for profit but instead was being used to help build a portfolio that could be used to apply for jobs in non-legal careers. Since the income generated from the blog is not income generated from “work,” in their defined sense, the Adsense income does not need to be reported. If, however, I ever were to decide to conduct my blog as a business and accept money from restaurants in exchange for putting advertisements on my site, their opinion would change, and that money would have to be reported. Hopefully this explanation puts to rest anybody’s concerns about their own blog, and I haven’t deterred anybody.
This could be a lesson for other website owners who are not clear on how the government will react to AdSense income being declared. Although, it’s always best to claim it, as Google is most likely doing it on your behalf on their end anyway.
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