Hello fellow H/A forumites!
So yesterday my job laid me off for 3 weeks while they remodel. Supposedly they plan to hire all of us poor minions back again, but we have not received official confirmation of the date, and frankly I don't trust the company to do right by us and let us know in a timely fashion whether or not we'll all have jobs come February. I'm hopeful but I still want to prepare for the worst.
With that in mind, I have filed for unemployment, and intend to look for other work within this time. I'm already perusing job sites and updating my resume. This part is all good, I feel okay with this. If I find a better job in this three weeks, so much the better. If not, I will go back to my old job, assuming they wil have me. Again, hopeful but a little pessimistic.
My problem is this. I have for a long time wanted to start up an etsy site and sell some of my paintings for extra cash. This won't be a living wage by a long shot, it'll probably only net me a few hundred dollars at most. And, well, I'll have some time on my hands in the next few weeks and the new year seems like a good time to start something like this.
I've got some outstanding debts and my finances are uncomfortably tight right now, I could really really use the money, particularly since the unemployment money is unlikely to kick in for at least a week or so and I don't have any other income.
The unemployment handbook, however, is pretty clear that 'starting a small business' will count against me in an unemployment claim. Even if I do it on evenings and weekends and don't actually make any money, (they say that specifically).
They have a program for people to start businesses and continue to collect, but I looked into it and I can't even apply for it unless I am "at high-risk for continued unemployment." Which, seeing as how I could very well be working again in 3 weeks, does not describe me.
So- my question. At what point does selling your shit on the internet become "starting a small business?" Does selling things I already own on craigslist, ebay or etsy count? Or does it only matter if I say, register as a sole proprietor for tax purposes (which I could maybe see myself doing if I start making real money, but not in the next 3 weeks..)? If I sell or attempt to sell a few paintings but still collect, am I actually committing fraud? Does anyone out there have any idea at all?
I live and work in New York State, since it probably matters.