Unemployment benefits for Airbnb hosts (U.S.)

They will be requiring a Schedule C, so if you weren’t planning on filing 2019 taxes until July you will have to figure out Schedule C. In my case I have 2 businesses, each with its own Schedule C.

My state UI program director just announced today that we should file now even though we will be rejected and note the we are filing every week because we need to file for PUA. They will flag filings and transfer them once the PUA system is up and operating.

Has anyone successfully filed for unemployment due to Covid-19 yet? I’m in Massachusetts, retired, and we had to block out many weeks because we can’t take any chances, and I guess airbnbs are closed down except for emergency workers. At any rate, we are losing loads of $$. I can’t figure out how to file for unemployment even after looking at the Massachusetts Unemployment home page. And of course no help is available.

Our state only asked for AGI which is on the first page of the 1040 in the application and then accepted 1099s as proof. It’s really different state by state. Anyone who is interested should look at their state’s UI website and then give it a go if they think they qualify. I dug around for hours the other day and it is truly remarkable how different it is from state to state.

The more difficult part of qualifying has to do with the reason you’re “unemployed”. E.g. In most docs it can’t be merely that you are worried about having guests, you have to meet one of the conditions for why you can’t have guests. But even these “reasons” are different from state to state even though they are all technically based on the fed’s requirements.

Here is one state’s listed qualifcations:

And here is another’s:

@Rachael52, you might be interested to know that the second photo is for MA. Though I know it’s not even possible to apply there yet. I would think that the state order for STRs to close might qualify you at least.

I heard recently that Eugene Scalia, the labor secretary, has directed the gig workers will not qualify for PUA unless their platform has shut down. Anyone know more about this and whether that will mean that Airbnb hosts don’t qualify since Airbnb platform is not shut down?

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I missed that somehow and thank you for posting about it. Surely it explains some of the feet-dragging even by states who are otherwise very generous with their UI benefits. Here is a breakdown of it for those who are interested:


However, it seems to be an ongoing issue and it hasn’t been decided yet. I found an article about some that are challenging it and it says there is a deadline (or at least a wished-for deadline) of today. Truly a developing story!

If it sticks then there will only be more questions. Sure, Airbnb as a platform will still be up and running but in some places hosts have had their calendars blocked and their state and/or city has banned Airbnb rentals for the time being due to covid - effectively making the platform shut-down for those hosts. Very interesting.

Obviously this is going to be a confusing and rocky roll out, with criteria, processes, timing and adequacy of systems varying state to state. I won’t qualify because I have the great good fortune that my STR income is supplemental to my main sources of income. To those who may qualify, don’t give up and keep plugging away.

Not sure why filing Schedule C vs E would be an issue, unless the specific state sets that as a guideline. Self employment tax funds Social Security and Medicare, not Unemployment benefits.

Under either schedule the loss of income is the same. The kind of thing the CARES act is trying to help people with.

Hopefully we will all qualify, especially those of us who rely on Airbnb as the only or primary source of income.


Update. It didn’t matter if I filed Schedule E or C. I was asked if I had my AGI for 2019 and what it was. I haven’t filed 2019 yet and said so and then gave amount of income from Airbnb 1099.
And then today I was awarded unemployment benefits. My state promised 7-14 days and today was the 15th day. Very impressed. The system is working :upside_down_face:

For reference, I have monthly tenants right now but filed as “under-employed” as it is much less income than I would have normally and was awarded benefits based on that.


@JJD, what state are you from?

Can I ask which state you are in? I am in NYS (where the system has been a mess and overwhelmed) and am finally able to apply for PUA but they very specifically ask for a Schedule C in the unemployment process where you upload documents. My accountant filed a schedule E for income, and this is my main source of income; I’ve lost 20k in bookings so far with our state being shut down, and still of course, have mortgage and expenses for the house, etc. I wonder if I should just upload the schedule E.

Hi Margaret! I’m not in NYS but, yes, I recommend you upload your Sched E or your 1099. Also, if there’s an option to upload multiple documents, maybe also upload the first page of your 1040 as that will show your AGI. Ultimately, I believe they are interested in that and just proof of income in general.

If it were me I would upload 1099, Sched E and 1040 (1st page only). Give them that stuff so that they can at least work on it - sort of a move-forward and ask questions later approach ,) If you dont’ have sched C then you don’t but I doubt that will exclude you, so just give them something to work with. Remember that the onus for PUA is on you having had recent income not where it is from, so just show them some income however you can.

Also, I found Twitter to be the best way to get real and specific information - both in the feed and using the DM. Here’s the link for NYS:


Hope this helps a bit.


Wow, thanks so much for this! I will try it all :slight_smile: Appreciate your time and help.

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Just a caution, depending on the state, Schedule E could be problematic, as it is passive, not wage, income (includes rent, royalties, and partnership and estate and trust income). The upshot is to read your state requirements carefully. If you submit something that gets you rejected, it could make it even more difficult to resubmit and qualify.

As pointed out, every state is different; I randomly looked at Wisconsin, which requires one of the following list – and note that it allows submission of a K-1 partnership form, but not Schedule E. Go figure.

Previous year’s (2019) complete Federal Tax Return

Please included the following when applicable
Schedule C-Profit or Loss from Business
Schedule F-Profit or Loss from Farming
Schedule K 1- Partner's Share of Income

Previous year’s (2019) W-2
Final pay stub in 2019


Absolutely. For instance, many states are actually listing Schedule E as an eligible proof of income.

However, after digging around extensively specifically for NY requirements, they are not providing a list of such forms that are eligible. But @magsnich surely used a 1099 to fill in her Schedule E as an airbnb host and NY specifically states “1099” as eligible for the PUA benefits in NY.

Based on that, I think that uploading the 1099 is the best choice. If it’s possible to upload more than one document then I would upload other supporting evidence of the income, including the schedule E as NY is not stating any preference for non-passive income as it looks like WI may be doing (and fortunately is not relevant for her).

Additionally, I read through the NY labor dept Twitter and FB feeds and the answers they are giving to similar questions support this. Some NYers were even instructed to upload bank statements, etc so a Schedule E should be fine especially if accompanied with a 1099. NY is also not stating any requirement to have filed taxes either so the actual Schedule is likely not important. This was true in my state as well. The form asked if I had my AGI from 2019 and I answered “no”. And then I reported income from my 1099 for 2019 and that was accepted. Some states are being very flexible and I believe NY to be one of those.

Maybe this is because there can be non-passive income/loss reported on a K-1? I get a K-1 with it on there (though it’s nothing to do with hosting).

Also, it seems likely (though I surely don’t have the details) that @magsnich’s taxes are not filed correctly - e.g. it should be on a Schedule C instead of Schedule E. And I doubt NYS is going to deny benefits based on that. She is still an indep contractor/gig worker/1099.

Part of all of the issues is that traditional UI is based on wages which is never passive-income, but this PUA is specifically covering people without wages and has it’s own set of qualifications in each state. Some states want to make it more difficult and generally are not feeling generous with the benefits, but there’s nothing to suggest that NY is one of those states.


Honestly I’m not really sure. I put self-employed, because if I was independent contractor, you are getting and filing a 1099. Same as gig worker. I can understand how Schedule E is considered passive income, but since they are including all things under the umbrella of “income lost to COVID” I’m hoping the schedule E will still be allowable for PUA benefits.

After you submitted your application, did they call you back and go through everything with you ? Because if you try to call them you don’t get a live person.

I understood that Air sends 1099’s to those earned more than 20k.

I’m from Hawaii and have a short term rental that is my main income. We have been forbidden (by our governor) to continue short term rentals right now, so i applied for UI for Airbnb, because i was told that was an option. I finally received a letter in the mail from UI and it says that Airbnb is “exempt employment”! And they are considering the medical clinic that i cover one shift a month (!) my other UI income option… so they say i qualify for $62/week from that job. That will buy me one small bag of groceries here in Hawaii (which i understand is better than nothing) but seriously- no one can live off of that here in Hi! Has anyone else experienced this same thing? We supposedly can’t get UI from our Airbnb income if we have any other income- even if its practically nothing. Thanks for any input!

If you get anything at all from UI you will also get the $600 weekly from the Feds, so you will actually get $662 /week.

Some states are having independent contractors first apply and be denied of regular UI so that they then qualify for PUA, which is where your hosting income would count. Or you might have applied for regular UI by mistake - that is where they would consider your medical clinic income (assuming you are a w2 employee for it). Are you sure that you applied for the PUA and not regualar UI?

Here is the site for the Hawaii PUA. This is what you need to apply for to compensate for your hosting income:


If you have any W2 income at all you’re screwed, the federal law is that you can only get regular UI and not the PUA.

If you don’t have any W2 income then yes, you should get the $62 plus $600 from March 29 to the end of July.

JJD, are you sure that hosting income will count for the PUA? I’m in CA and got approved for the min $167 plus $600, but hoping to eventually get bumped up to the max of $450 based on my hosting income. Was not sure if they will count that as for regular “UI” I’m pretty sure rental income would not count.