Minimum Requirements For Working As An Independent Contractor

What Is an Independent Contractor

In other words, if an employer cannot tell the worker what to do and how and when to do it, that worker is an independent contractor. By contrast, the worker whose job is controlled by an employer is an employee. If you’re working as an independent contractor but essentially meeting the legal criteria of “employment,” you may be getting cheated out of overtime, vacation, workers’ compensation, and other valuable protections.

What Is an Independent Contractor

This means you have to set aside enough money to pay your tax bill each year. All independent contractors who make more than $400 per year from business activities must report their business income to the IRS. For general information on paying taxes as a self-employed business owner, see How Sole Proprietors Are Taxed. In return for giving up the entire suite of employee protections and benefits in U.S. labor law, all that most independent contractors receive from a company such as Uber and Lyft is mostly imaginary work independence. Companies must give workers some amount of freedom for them to qualify as independent contractors, but it is in companies’ interest to keep as much control as possible. For instance, companies routinely discipline their contractors, control how they perform their job, unilaterally change pay structures, and forbid negotiation over pay.

Independent contractors are required to pay income taxes on the profits of their business and a self-employment tax . Some states like California impose more stringent requirements for classifying workers as independent contractors, and lawmakers at the state and federal levels change or add new tests from time to time. Independent contractors generally work on a project-by-project basis. They don’t have a guarantee of continued work with their clients or receive employer-sponsored benefits, like health insurance, retirement savings plans, or sick leave. Payment by the hour, week, or month generally points to an employer-employee relationship, provided that this method of payment is not just a convenient way of paying a lump sum agreed upon as the cost of a job. Payment made by the job or on a straight commission generally indicates that the worker is an independent contractor.

This is where it gets tricky, in almost all cases, an independent contractor is self-employed, but not everyone who is self-employed is an independent contractor. As a small business owner, you should learn the basics of bookkeeping and recordkeeping, and you may also want to take marketing steps, such as listing your business in the Yellow Pages and setting up a basic website. For more information, see Nolo’s Business Accounting, Bookkeeping and Finance and Sales, Marketing & eCommerce areas. Depending on your trade, you may also have to get a professional or vocational license. For instance, some states license auto mechanics, barbers, massage therapists, and real estate agents. Ask your trade association or go to your state government’s website to see if you need a particular license. From hiring and onboarding remotely to supporting employee mental health, find relevant HR resources for helping your business recover from a crisis.

What Are Common Examples Of Independent Contractors?

This would include Graduate/Teaching Assistants who worked as State employees. Participants in the Stony Brook Voluntary Separation Program may have limitations and should reach out to There are different tax and insurance implications based on your employer-employee relationship, so establishing a work status is very important. You make deals with other persons and entities in return for talents and services. You simply work together with others because you both have something of value to offer each other. An independent contractor 1099-MISC is the IRS form that an organization must have each contractor fill out after an independent contractor agreement is signed. Unfair exploitation and discrimination laws that employers must abide by do not apply to their contracted workers.

  • Competitive businesses have already identified the value of building up a strong alternative workforce.
  • For example, you may hire a contractor to remodel your business’s storefront.
  • As a result, you can complete your work as you see fit to some extent.
  • This rules out personal services rendered by a self-employed individual, such as a doctor or even an accountant providing personal accounting services.
  • A self-employed person is an independent contractor or sole proprietor who reports income earned from self-employment.
  • An independent contractor communicates directly with a manager for a project and submits a competitive bid to get hired.
  • When looking at behavioral control, think about whether your company has the ability and right to control what the worker is doing and how they complete an assignment.

Otherwise, the hiring party is not liable for negligence commissioned by an independent contractor. The hiring party may be liable when a third party is harmed, where failure to exercise reasonable care by a contractor is applied to the hiring party due to agreement. Aside from a few exceptions, hiring parties are at less risk of liability with independent contractors than employees. An independent contractor has far greater control over elements of work than an employee.

However, you should keep in mind that a unit of independent contractors is not subject to the same privileges and protections as a regular union bargaining unit. For example, an employer is not under the same obligation to bargain with a union regarding contract terms for an independent contractor that it is to bargain over issues affecting its regular employees. Also, an independent contractor who went on strike would not be protected from employer reprisals under the National Labor Relations Act. As you can see, there are many reasons why employers prefer independent contractors to employees.

Should You Become An Independent Contractor?

The federal “Economic Realities Test” looks at the dependence of a worker on the business with which he or she works. The “Twenty Factors Test” offers a checklist of qualifications to discern if a worker is an independent contractor. Independent contractors by rule of thumb, charge more than the market will bear, however where competition is present, risk persists. Depending on field of practice, the calculus for charging clients a retainer and cost of services fees will obviously vary.

  • Almost one-third of workers have worked for themselves, while 14% primarily work as an independent contractor.
  • Once you’ve determined the amount of tax you owe, you can send your payment to the IRS by mail or by making your payment electronically on the IRS website.
  • These individuals are trained to handle the tax issues and deductions independent contractors encounter.
  • However, the employer is paying the independent contractor for their work.
  • Independent contractor status has been outlined by common law principles, through enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and in court precedent.

Instead of a steady, predictable paycheck, independent contractors can experience peaks and valleys in their earnings. Event planner No. 2 is given a budget with instructions to secure the location and hire vendors within the budget and to prepare marketing materials. The What Is an Independent Contractor event planner is also instructed to complete these tasks in the next two months. At the end of that time, the event planner must submit a list of vendors hired, an expense report itemizing the costs, receipts for payments made; and the marketing materials developed.

Independent Contractors And Freelancers Must Comply With Several Laws

Kirsten is also the founder and director of Your Best Edit; find her on LinkedIn and Facebook. Although both event planners are doing the same job, event planner No. 1 would be considered an employee because the company has retained most of the control over the means and methods for getting the job done. Individuals must meet specific requirements to be engaged as an independent contractor. You might think your interests are weird, but there’s probably independent contractor work out there for you. People have found work as fortune cookie writers, online forum moderators, cat catchers, golf ball divers, and professional TV watchers.

  • ICs who have formed a corporation file a separate corporate tax return.
  • When you submit Forms 1099-NEC to the IRS, you must also send Form 1096.
  • An individual who is providing training or instructional service may be considered an employee.
  • Unlike employees, independent contractors do not work regularly for an employer but work as required, when they may be subject to law of agency.
  • You can consult a small business lawyer or another professional or file Form SS-8.

The earnings of a person who is working as an independent contractor are subject to self-employment tax. To find out what your tax obligations are, visit the Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center. Employers often prefer to classify people as contractors instead of employees because it’s cheaper for them.

Things You Can Deduct As An Independent Contractor

Work done off the premises of the person or persons receiving the services, such as at the office of the worker, indicates some freedom from control. However, this fact by itself does not mean that the person is not an employee. The importance of this factor depends on the nature of the service involved and the extent to which an employer generally would require that employees perform such service on the employer’s premises. The advantages that an employer gains from hiring an independent contractor go hand in hand with the disadvantages experienced by the independent contractor.

In this article, we define what an independent contractor is and list examples, as well as explore the pros and cons of this type of work. A contractor is effectively self-employed and uses their income to pay self-employment payroll taxes.

What Is an Independent Contractor

If an employer-employee relationship exists , then you are not an independent contractor and your earnings are generally not subject to self-employment tax. However, your earnings as an employee may be subject to FICA and income tax withholding. You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer .

Get started with alegal evaluationof your situation by an employment law attorney. Independent contractors have more freedom over their work and the ability to contract with a range of businesses, but they do not receive many of thelegal protections that employees do. The following is a discussion of the nature of independent contractor work and related legal issues. The IRS uses the 20 Factors of the Common Law Test to determine whether an individual is an employee or an IC. These 20 factors or 20 questions assist in determining if a relationship or evidence of control/right to control exists between the payer and worker. Under IRS rules, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done, even if freedom of action is granted to the individual worker.

Can You Hire A Former State Employee?

The amount of initiative, judgment or foresight in open-market competition with others required for the success of the claimed independent enterprise. Entrepreneurial and distinctive work favors an independent contractor relationship.

What Is an Independent Contractor

They must also pay both the employee and the employer parts of Social Security and Medicare taxes. They are not eligible for employer-sponsored 401 plans or matching contributions from those who employ them. The cons of being an independent contractor are related to the risk of going bankrupt and the opportunity cost of a regular career. They aren’t supported by a regular salary when business is terrible, and their income is unpredictable and highly volatile month over and year over year.

Disadvantage #3: Lack Of Control Over The Work

In a way, you’re outsourcing work to an outside entity with whom you have a business relationship. An independent contractor has much more leeway in terms of choosing their workload, setting their own schedule, and choosing who they work for. Furthermore, an independent contractor can provide work for more than one entity; i.e. you can consult for multiple companies, or you can renovate houses for multiple individuals. The autonomy also means you can negotiate different deals and rates with the different clients. Health insurance, retirement benefits, bonuses, paid vacation and sick time, profit sharing are generally not offered to independent contractors.

As an independent contractor, you often set your own schedule and decide how many hours you will work. Sometimes, an independent contractor relationship drifts to become an employer-employee relationship. If you’re concerned, bring this up with your client sooner rather than later to spare them from misclassification . If your client does not budge, fill out Form SS-8 to get input from the IRS. If your net earnings are under $400, you still need to file an income tax return if you have other earnings, such as employment income.

As an independent contractor, your contributions to health insurance and a retirement plan are tax-deductible, lowering your overall tax bill. Employees typically complete an application and interview with the company. An independent contractor communicates directly with a manager for a project and submits a competitive bid to get hired.

Since independent contractors are not employees the contractor is responsible for paying employment taxes, income taxes, social security, and insurance. However, the vast majority of self-employed independent contractors are nothing like the legendary small businessperson engaged in launching a newfangled product or service. Independent contractors provide goods or services according to the terms of a contract they have negotiated with an employer. Independent contractors are not employees, and therefore they are not covered under most federal employment statutes. They are not protected from employment discrimination by Title VII, nor are they entitled to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Employers are not required to pay independent contractors overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act or provide accommodations for a contractor’s disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. An employer is also not responsible for an independent contractor’s unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits and is not required to provide an independent contractor with a pension or other employment benefits.

They can take multiple short-term jobs, but it’s more common that they opt for longer-term work arrangements with one or two clients. However, as sole proprietors, independent contractors do not necessarily pay taxes on their gross earnings.

Your client will provide you with this form and file it to the IRS on your behalf by January 31 each year. The form asks a series of questions about the nature of the work and how the client treats the contractor on the job. After the IRS receives the form, it will contact the client to get their version of the facts. The IRS Form 1040 is one of the official documents that US taxpayers use to calculate and file their taxable income by the April tax deadline. The contractor must return this form to the client so they can file it with the IRS by January 31 each year. Finally, the contractor should sign and date the form and return it to the client, where it will remain on file and valid for the remainder of the year and for three full calendar years after that. A niche helps establish credibility and sets you apart from your competitors.

A contractor isn’t technically an employee, so an employer saves themselves a lot of responsibility by paying an independent contractor to do some work, rather than increasing their staff on hand. You avoid the share of taxes, benefits, and office costs that you might assume were you to take on another employee as opposed to paying an independent contractor. That said, contractors do not come cheap, and many times they command pretty high fees for what they do. You have much more control over their day-to-day work and schedule, and you pay them a salary or by the hour. They are independent from your business entity, but provide work to you for agreed-upon compensation.

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