Employee or Independent Contractor?
Know the Rules
The IRS encourages all businesses and business owners to know the rules when it comes to classifying a worker as an employee or an independent contractor.
An employer must withhold income taxes and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes and unemployment tax on wages paid to an employee. Employers normally do not have to withhold or pay any taxes on payments to independent contractors.
Here are two key points for small business owners to keep in mind when it comes to classifying workers:
1. Control. The relationship between a worker and a business is important. If the business controls what work is accomplished and directs how it is done, it exerts behavioral control. If the business directs or controls financial and certain relevant aspects of a worker’s job, it exercises financial control. This includes:
• The extent of the worker's investment in the facilities or tools used in performing services
• The extent to which the worker makes his or her services available to the relevant market
• How the business pays the worker, and
• The extent to which the worker can realize a profit or incur a loss
2. Relationship. How the employer and worker perceive their relationship is also important for determining worker status. Key topics to think about include:
• Written contracts describing the relationship the parties intended to create
• Whether the business provides the worker with employee-type benefits, such as insurance, a pension plan, vacation or sick pay
• The permanency of the relationship, and
• The extent to which services performed by the worker are a key aspect of the regular business of the company
• The extent to which the worker has unreimbursed business expenses
The Internal Revenue Service has created a special new page on IRS.gov to help taxpayers determine if a person visiting their home or place of business claiming to be from the IRS is legitimate or an imposter.
With continuing phone scams and in-person scams taking place across the country, the IRS reminds taxpayers that IRS employees do make official, sometimes unannounced, visits to taxpayers as part of their routine casework. Taxpayers should keep in mind the reasons these visits occur and understand how to verify if it is the IRS knocking at their door.
Visits typically fall into three categories:
IRS revenue officers will sometimes make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed or tax returns due. Revenue officers are IRS civil enforcement employees whose role involves education, investigation, and when necessary, appropriate enforcement.
IRS revenue agents will sometimes visit a taxpayer who is being audited. That taxpayer would have first been notified by mail about the audit and set an agreed-upon appointment time with the revenue agent. Also, after mailing an initial appointment letter to a taxpayer, an auditor may call to confirm and discuss items pertaining to the scheduled audit appointment.
IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer’s home or place of business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents, and they will not demand any sort of payment. Criminal investigators also carry law enforcement credentials, including a badge.
Your medical expenses may save you money at tax time, but a few key rules apply. Here are some tax tips to help you determine if you can claim a tax deduction: