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Share of the Catch

Although there are many scenarios, the IRS has established these situations as ideal examples to be followed when dealing with “Shares of the Catch”.

Single Seller

The boat operator sells the whole catch to a wholesaler at the end of the workday and is paid by check. He or she, in turn, issues a check to all crew entitled to a percentage of the catch. The boat operator reports all monies received as gross income on 1040 Schedule C. He or she also takes an expense deduction for the monies paid to the crew for services rendered.

By using checks, the monies received and paid are easily identifiable. At the end of the calendar year, the boat operator would then be required to file Form 1099 MISC for the total value of the catch paid to the crew entitled to a percentage during the calendar year.

Note: The IRS cannot make a buyer issue a single check to the boat owner/operator, and cannot require that the sternmen sell their catch to the same buyer.

Crew Seller

If a crewmember decided to sell the catch somewhere other than the boat operator, the operator must still keep track of the crewmembers earnings at the end of the day. The operator can either:

  • Ask the crewmember the amount obtained, or
  • Record how many pounds of fish the crewmember received and the market price of the catch that day.

At the end of the year, the boat operator would total the amounts paid and/or the fair market value of the crewmembers’ share of the catch and fill out Form 1099-MISC.

Note: This has been shown to cause multiple 1099-MISC's to be counted for the same catch. See Cash Payments to Purchase Fish for more details.

Sternmen

If the sternman/crewmember (crew of fewer than 10) receives monetary payment from the boat owner, rather than product (fish), and that is the only source of self-employment income, the total amount shown on 1099-MISC would be gross receipts to be reported on Schedule C.

If product is received, a fair market value of the product must be established. If the value is other than what the boat owner reflected on 1099-MISC, the sternman must maintain records showing how much he received for the product. Records must show the basis in the catch (value placed by the boat owner on a catch by catch basis) and the sale price of the product (for each sale). As you can see, if the sternman has the boat owner sell the entire catch, recordkeeping is significantly reduced.

Urchin Divers

The income and information return process for urchin divers is normally the same as for boat owners. Urchin divers usually hire a boat owner as a "tender" and reimburse them for operating expenses, plus a percentage of the catch. In such cases, the urchin diver would be required to issue a 1099-MISC to the boat owner for the value of the catch or monies paid.

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 18-Aug-2014