What Moonlighting Really Means



Ever hear of moonlighting? It sounds mysterious and clandestine, but it really means working two or more jobs. When you moonlight, you might work at night, for extra money, but you also work during the day as a regular employee.  

Moonlighters work day jobs 

Mark, for example, works Monday through Friday as a manager at a car dealership. At night, during the weekend, he plays guitar at the local bar. He has a regular job and a side-gig. Jen works part time as an elementary school psychologist but also owns her own small business as a clinical psychologist. She treats patients in the evenings. 

As another example, medical residents might moonlight as physicians. During the day, they work long hours in their residency training program, but at night they work as independent physicians. 

Regardless of the type of work you choose, or why you choose to do it, you’re generating income, and all income must be reported to the IRS at the end of the year.  

Moonlighters are self-employed 

It’s important to know that each moonlighter—i.e., freelancer, contractor, consultant—is considered self-employed for those services performed, which is an important consideration when it’s time to pay taxes. 

Remember to … 

  1. Report all your income from your primary job(s) and any secondary jobs.  
  2. Keep your tax docs in a safe place until you’re ready to e-file your tax return. In January, you should receive a W-2 from any employers and a 1099-MISC for any side work where you earned $600 or more. 
  3. Know the facts about self-employed taxes and quarterly tax payments and who should be paying them. 
  4. Use available resources like the IRS’s Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. Starting a business and keeping good records are just two of dozens of topics.  
  5. Choose a software—like TaxSlayer’s Self-Employed—that guides you through your tax return and guarantees your maximum refund.  


Moonlighters are on the rise 

Why do people moonlight? If they have a hobby, like painting, and it brings in extra income, then why not moonlight? Any additional money earned supplements their primary income, which is great for savings. For those whose primary income isn’t enough, working a second job isn’t optional. Every little bit counts. 

Freelancers, which include moonlighters, are expected to make up half the American workforce in the next decade, though they won’t necessarily be full-time freelancers. Americans are realizing the value of being their own boss—and are enjoying the freedom and flexibility of being self-employed.  


Updated February 22, 2018 

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