The question of whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee for federal income and employment tax purposes is a complex one. It is intensely factual, and the stakes can be very high. If a worker is an employee, the company must withhold federal income and payroll taxes, pay the employer’s share of FICA taxes on the wages plus FUTA tax, and often provide the worker with fringe benefits it makes available to other employees. There may be state tax obligations as well. These obligations don’t apply for a worker who is an independent contractor. The business sends the independent contractor a Form 1099-MISC for the year showing what he or she was paid (if it amounts to $600 or more), and that’s it.
Who is an “employee?” There is no uniform definition of the term.
Under the common-law rules (so-called because they originate from court cases rather than from a statute), an individual generally is an employee if the enterprise he works for has the right to control and direct him regarding the job he is to do and how he is to do it. Otherwise, he is an independent contractor.
If you’d like to discuss with me how these complex rules apply to your business, to make sure that none of your workers are misclassified, please call my office to arrange for an appointment.
Please find below an independent contractor template agreement as well as a worker classification worksheet. If you have any questions, please contact our office.