Independent Contractor And Employee Differences

What Is an Independent Contractor

Among the most important distinctions is that by forming a business you establish a separate legal entity for your business. This can help protect your personal assets from business-related liabilities that can arise from claims or lawsuits. Independent contractors can engage in nearly any kind of work, but employers can’t call just anyone who works for them an independent contractor. Federal and state laws describe the situations in which a worker can properly What Is an Independent Contractor be classified as an IC. If the worker’s situation doesn’t fit within the rules, the worker is not an IC, regardless of the employer’s wishes. If an entity meets all of the 12 criteria, it will not be considered an employee of the contractor but will instead be a separate business that is itself subject to the new law regarding its own employees. The nature of the services performed is also key to deciding if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.

Misclassifying independent contractors can lead to costly consequences from the IRS, including penalties and back taxes. Unless you have a system in place to guarantee classification, working with independent contractors introduces your company to added risk. If an independent contractor’s net earnings were $400 or more, they will need to file a tax return with the IRS on a Form 1040. They will also file a Schedule C to calculate net income or loss for their business. Gig workers perform temporary, very short-term jobs — often procured through a consumer-facing app — to provide on-demand services.

What Is An Independent Contractor? Definition And Examples

Contrary to popular belief, the tax treatment for business-related expenses often isn’t different whether the contractor is self-employed or incorporated as a business entity. Independent contractors are required to pay income taxes on the profits of their business and a self-employment tax . If you believe that some of your workers are independent contractors, ask for a formal determination by writing to the address below. Include a copy of any contract and details of your relationship. Therefore, your client bears no responsibility for providing usual employee benefits like pension plans, health insurance, sick pay, paid vacations, or disability insurance. The rights of independent contractors evolve from federal and state laws, rules, regulations, and court decisions.

What Is an Independent Contractor

Generally speaking, independent contractors are not able to collect unemployment insurance because that benefit is typically reserved for employees who lose their job. In some instances, though, a self-employed worker may be able to collect unemployment insurance if they are underemployed due to economic downturn that affects their client stream.

It Is Illegal To Knowingly Classify An Employee As An Independent Contractor

Independent contractors are required to file an annual return and pay estimated tax quarterly. A self-employed person is an independent contractor or sole proprietor who reports income earned from self-employment. They aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation. If you are an independent contractor, then you are self-employed.

What Is an Independent Contractor

In an ideal world, you want to be turning down work because your schedule is too full. Depending on your line of work and location, you may need to obtain a business license before providing services as a contractor. A business license is a government permit granted by your local government. Becoming a contractor is a great option if you desire greater control, flexibility, and independence over your work. Contractors work with clients instead of employers, and they can choose when, where, and how they work, as long as they deliver on the client’s expectations. Contractors have much more freedom and independence over their work than employees.

In addition, Toby was the past director and host of the longest-running local business radio program on KNUU in Las Vegas “The BOSS Business Brief”. He sits on the board of directors for several companies and was recently appointed to the local board of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a worldwide association of owners of successful businesses. This is why some enterprising people choose to work as a self-employed individual, also called a self-employed person.

Independent Contractor Vs Employee

These government programs are all paid for by employed individuals in the United States. In a traditional employer-employee relationship, you’re responsible for paying 7.65% of your income to these programs and your employer matches it with an additional 7.65%. Every time you earn income, you need to set aside some money to pay your taxes. To be on the safe side, this should typically be about 30% of your gross earnings. This will depend on the amount of income you make in a year, as your federal, state and local taxes will vary. Many full-time employees work a standard 40-hour workweek, for example, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. As an independent contractor, you often set your own schedule and decide how many hours you will work.

What Is an Independent Contractor

If they do, you become an employee and not an independent contractor. An Independent Contractor is a person who is contracted to perform services without having the legal status of an employee. The agreement should correctly be titled to avoid any confusion.


Moreover, if a client does not like the work of the independent contractor, they are also free to terminate the contract and look elsewhere for similar services to be rendered by a different independent contractor. It should be noted that once an independent contractor has started working with a client, they are often legally required to fulfill the contractual duties they have agreed to perform. That is why it is important to make sure contracts and legal agreements are clear and specific. For example, a janitor employed by a cleaning company that services office buildings does not need to provide their own broom and mop. However, if the janitor were an independent contractor—setting the price for their cleaning services and finding their own clients—they would need to invest in their own set of cleaning supplies. A noncompete agreement may seem like a great way to protect your company from competition by independent contractors, but there are can be legal challenges.

For example, the agreement can be titled “Independent Contractor Agreement.” Additionally, the agreement should clearly state that the worker’s status under the agreement is that of an independent contractor. The parties should be correctly identified throughout the agreement and terms such as “employer” and “employee” should be excluded. Is a license, certificate, professional degree, or special skill required for this service? A person hired to do work not in the usual course of the University’s business may be an independent contractor. The following questions and answers may help clarify the relationship between the University and the individual to determine if an independent contractor relationship exists.

  • Also, any client who pays you more than $600 by check or cash in any calendar year must report the income paid to you to the IRS, and the IRS will check your tax returns to see whether you are reporting this income.
  • Health insurance, retirement benefits, bonuses, paid vacation and sick time, profit sharing are generally not offered to independent contractors.
  • 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.
  • The difference between gross earnings and business expenses is the net income, which taxes are due.
  • Even though some independent contractors require hefty payments, there are far lower overhead costs compared to hiring full-time employees.
  • The event planner is also instructed to complete these tasks in the next two months.

If your client does not budge, fill out Form SS-8 to get input from the IRS. Before contractors file a return for their self-employment income, they must first determine if they made a profit of over $400.

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There are many fairly routine examples of independent contracting functions or roles within business today. From hiring and onboarding remotely to supporting employee mental health, find relevant HR resources for helping your business recover from a crisis.

As the gig economy rises and remote work becomes more mainstream, the number of independent contracts is steadily rising. Almost one-third of workers have worked for themselves, while 14% primarily work as an independent contractor. If you are unsure whether you own the rights to a work you created or a product you developed as an independent contractor, review your contract agreement. However, an employer can become the owner if the independent contractor agreement specifically assigns to him or her the rights to any work made under or according to the agreement. It is extremely important to read an independent contractor agreement very carefully before you sign to ensure that you do not give away your rights to valuable intellectual property. Working as an independent contractor can be a great way to earn a living for people who desire flexibility, don’t mind inconsistent earnings, and who can manage their time while potentially juggling multiple clients. The cons of being an independent contractor are related to the risk of going bankrupt and the opportunity cost of a regular career.

The following questions will assist in reviewing the relationship between the service provider and the employer, to determine whether the service provider is an employee or independent contractor. North Dakota uses the “common law test” – a series of 20 questions which are used to determine whether an individual providing services is an employee or independent contractor. The common law test focuses primarily on the level of control a business has over a worker. This can be a tricky one, as many IT professionals are employees. If they are performing short-term or specific project work that has a completion timeline in place, they are typically operating within an independent contractor role.

In addition to paying federal and state income taxes, you must also pay those Social Security and Medicare taxes. For many people, the main reason to consider becoming an independent contractor is the freedom that it can present. As an independent contractor, you don’t have to work for someone else; you may set your own hours and complete work assignments whenever you choose, depending on the type of job. You should be able to negotiate pay rates and a payment schedule, but you may still have to keep a timesheet if you are working on an hourly rate. To help avoid this error, the IRS has developed the IRS 20 Factor Test – Independent Contractor or Employee? You can check your needs and reasoning for wanting an independent contractor with this 20-point test to determine whether you should hire an independent contractor or an employee.

A business name other than your full legal name earns professional credibility and is a great first step toward creating a brand identity. Strong brand identity will come in handy when creating a website, social media account, and everything else you’ll need to promote your services and attract clients. The Internal Revenue Service states that independent contractors are self-employed. However, not all self-employed people count as independent contractors. I help start-ups, small businesses, and people realize their potential by leveraging my legal and technological experience. Legally skilled in employment law, intellectual property, corporate law, and real estate transactions. Traditionally, employees work at your business location during certain hours or shifts.


The IRS has strict definitions to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. It is critical for your business to classify all your workers accurately. By misclassifying a worker, you could be subject to some large penalties and fines. Employees of a company perform services that can be controlled by an employer, including what works needs to be done and how it should be completed. This definition also applies to exempt employees, who have the autonomy to operate within their role as the employer sees fit, so long as the outcome is acceptable.

The hiring platform’s contract will typically contain a provision that the gig worker is an independent contractor and that the worker agrees to such status. Pay estimated taxes (advance payments of your income and self-employment taxes). There are several tax deductions for self-employed people that reduce their self-employment taxes. They need to claim these tax deductions as they are available for business expenses. By definition, an independent contractor is an individual who renders services to another entity – individual or company, as a non-employee.

You can work at home, at a coffee shop, on the beach, in a park, or maintain a private office anywhere you want. That’s why you should avoid working at the client’s place of business like an employee. SUNY employees cannot be hired as an Independent Contractor by another SUNY agency.

Tactics To Find Clients As An Independent Contractor

Since no taxes have been withheld from your payments, you mustpay these taxesby the tax deadline, along with your personal income tax return. You will need to makeestimated tax paymentsthroughout the year quarterly to avoid interest and penalties. An independent contractor is an individual in business for themselves, providing goods or services to another individual or business. There are differences between an independent contractor and an employee and each type of work has its pros and cons. Your personality might be better suited to one style of working over the other.

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