Fees--What the Notary May Charge, How, Reporting

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It’s Tax Season – Report Notary Fees and Income Appropriately
Copyright, American Society of Notaries  |  Published February 23, 2015

It’s tax season, and time for the American Society of Notaries’ annual reminder about reporting of income derived from notary services.

All income earned from providing notary services, including notarial fees, travel fees and any other incidental fees, is subject to reporting to the Internal Revenue Service.  According to the Internal Revenue Service, fees received for notary services should be reported on Schedule C (Form 1040) or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040), Net Profit From Business

Part of the income earned for notary services—the amount charged for specific notarial acts such as acknowledgments and oaths/affirmations—is exempt from self-employment tax. (This is the Social Security and Medicare tax primarily for self-employed individuals. The IRS’ definition of a “self-employed” person is broad, and would generally include a person who is regularly employed but has a notary business on the side, or a person who is operating a notary business full-time.)

For example, a notary has a notarial services business that earned $9,000 last year.  Two thousand of that was attributable to fees earned for specific notarial acts (acknowledgments, oaths/affirmations, etc.). The $2000 would be exempt from self-employment tax, but the remaining $7,000 would not. 

If your net self-employed earnings are less than $400, then you are not required to pay self-employment tax (Instructions, Schedule SE (Form 1040), Internal Revenue Service).

Please note that this article is not meant to serve as expert tax advice. American Society of Notaries urges all notaries who earn income from their notary services to consult a tax advisor for assistance with tax obligations and reporting.

 Questions, comments?  Email Kathleen@asnnotary.org

Understanding Notary Fees
ASN Hot Tip, March 2009-#2

The Situation:  Some Notaries provide services that, in addition to authorized notarial acts, include other non-notarial aspects of the job assignment. Or, a notary can incur expenses associated with performing a notarial act. When invoicing a client for notarial services, the notary would like to invoice for any other charges and expenses as well.

The Notary’s Dilemma:  How does a notary present both notary fees and other charges or expenses to a client so the client understands that the entire charge is not solely for the performance of a notarial act? Our notary wants to avoid a misunderstanding that could result in a complaint to her commissioning authority alleging that she overcharged the client for performing a notarial act.

The Solution:  The first thing you will need to know is the maximum fee that your commissioning state allows for each notarial act that you are permitted by law to perform. That information is contained on our website, www.asnnotary.org. Click on the “Notary Information by State” link, and a U.S. map will come up. Then click on your state and you will be taken to information specific to notaries in your state. Scroll down to “Fees to Charge” to see the maximum fees that your state allows you to charge for each notarial act that you are authorized to perform.

PLEASE NOTE:  ALWAYS discuss your fees with the client before you perform any service. It is unwise and could be seen as unethical for you to wait to tell your client about your fees until after your services are performed. Always give clients the chance, up front, to accept or decline your fees.

ADDITIONAL FEES—Fees for additional services not related to the notarial act and the expenses that you incur in order to perform the notarial act may be charged to the client if he or she has agreed to them. The easiest way to clarify the different fees for the client is to provide him with an invoice. At any office supply store, you can purchase a pad of invoices that automatically makes a copy for your records when you create the invoice for the client (carbon-copy or no-carbon-required pads).

On the invoice that you write out for your client, line-item each charge and expense along with each fee for performing a notarial act. Clearly state what each charge, expense and notary fee is for and the amount that you are charging for each item. If your first contact with the client is by phone, provide the same information to him that you will write on the invoice to present to him in person and have him agree to the charges before you provide services as a notary. When you present your invoice to the client, you may wish to have him sign it to show that he agrees with the charges and understands the purpose of each line-itemed charge.
 
USE OF YOUR JOURNAL/RECORDBOOK—You can also keep track of your notary fees through the use of a journal or recordbook. Each entry for the performance of a notarial act has a space for you to record your notary fee for that notarial act. A recordbook is a great tool for adding up the total amount of your fees for notarial services at the end of the year, so you may accurately report your notary income to the IRS.

INVOICE SAMPLE—The following is a sample of an invoice presented to the father of the bride for a wedding ceremony to be performed in June 2010 by a Florida notary public. (Only Florida, South Carolina and Maine permit notaries to solemnize marriages.)

IMPORTANT:  ASN does NOT suggest or warrant that the non-notarial fees shown below are typical… these figures are shown ONLY so we may illustrate how to create a line-itemed invoice!

Jean Thomas, Wedding Planner and Florida Notary Invoice

Wedding of Mary Smith & James Jones–Taking place June 1, 2010.

Reserving sites of wedding ceremony and reception:...........$100.00

Hotel site planning for reception:
            Reserving rooms for guests...................................$50.00
            Coordinating food and beverage.............................$150.00
            Decorating banquet room for reception...................$300.00

Travel to site of ceremony on date of wedding.....................$50.00

Solemnizing marriage as a notary public............................$30.00  
                                                                                    
                                                                        Total:     $680.00

As you can see, Jean Thomas offered services to the bride and groom other than performing the marriage ceremony. She carefully line-itemed each fee and expense so there would be no confusion as to what each charge in the invoice was for. It is clear that, although Jean charged the maximum that Florida law allows for performing the marriage ceremony, she did not overcharge for her work as a notary.

If your client is not sure how much you charged for the notarization and how much you charged for the other services you may have provided or expenses you incurred, he may come to think that you overcharged for the notarial act that you performed for him and file a complaint with your commissioning authority. Avoid these unnecessary complaints by communicating the amount of your fees and expenses to the client both verbally and with a line-itemed invoice.

 Questions, comments on this Hot Tip? Email Kathleen@asnnotary.org

 
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