Worker Classification 101: employee or independent contractor
A business might pay an independent contractor and an employee for the same or similar work, but there are key legal differences between the two. It is critical for business owners to correctly determine whether the people providing services are employees or independent contractors.
Here’s some information to help business owners avoid problems that can result from misclassifying workers.
An employee is generally considered anyone who performs services, if the business can control what will be done and how it will be done. What matters is that the business has the right to control the details of how the worker’s services are performed. Independent contractors are normally people in an independent trade, business or profession in which they offer their services to the public.
Independent contractor vs. employee
Whether a worker is an independent contractor, or an employee depends on the relationship between the worker and the business. Generally, there are three categories to consider.
Misclassifying workers as independent contractors adversely affects employees because the employer’s share of taxes is not paid, and the employee’s share is not withheld. If a business misclassified an employee, the business can be held liable for employment taxes for that worker. Generally, an employer must withhold and pay income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, as well as unemployment taxes. Workers who believe they have been improperly classified as independent contractors generally must receive a determination of worker status from the IRS. Then they can use Form 8919, Uncollected Social Security and Medicare Tax on Wages to figure and report their share of uncollected social security and Medicare taxes due on their compensation.
Voluntary Classification Settlement Program
The Voluntary Classification Settlement Program is an optional program that provides businesses with an opportunity to reclassify their workers as employees for future employment tax purposes. This program offers partial relief from federal employment taxes for eligible businesses who agree to prospectively treat their workers as employees. Businesses must meet certain eligibility requirements and apply by filing Form 8952, Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program, and enter into a closing agreement with the IRS
Who is self-employed?
Generally, someone is self-employed if any of the following apply to them.
Self-employed individuals, including those who earn money from gig economy work, are generally required to file an tax return and make estimated quarterly tax payments. They also generally must pay self-employment tax which is social security and Medicare tax as well as income tax. These taxpayers may qualify for the home office deduction if they use part of a home for business.
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Taxpayers can start the 2022 tax year off right by checking their withholding
One way people can get the new tax year off to a good start is by checking their federal income tax withholding. They can do this using the Tax Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov.
This online tool helps employees avoid having too much or too little tax withheld from their wages. It also helps self-employed people, who have wage income, estimate tax payments that they should make to avoid unexpected results at tax time. Having too little withheld can result in a tax bill or even a penalty at tax time. Having too much withheld results in less money in their pocket. The estimator can help them get to a balance of zero or a desired refund amount.
Taxpayers can use the results from the Tax Withholding Estimator to determine if they should:
The Tax Withholding Estimator asks taxpayers to estimate:
The Tax Withholding Estimator does not ask for personally identifiable information, such as a name, Social Security number, address, and bank account numbers. The IRS doesn’t save or record the information entered in the Estimator.
Before using the Estimator, it can be helpful for taxpayers to gather applicable income documents including:
These documents are not needed to use the estimator but having them handy will help taxpayers estimate 2022 income and answer other questions asked during the process.
The Tax Withholding Estimator results will only be as accurate as the information entered by the taxpayer. People with only pension income should not use the Estimator. Those with wage income can account for current or future pension income. People with more complex tax situations should use the instructions in Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. This includes taxpayers who owe alternative minimum tax or certain other taxes, and people with long-term capital gains or qualified dividends.
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IRS launches resource page on IRS.gov with latest details and information for taxpayers during filing season
WASHINGTON –To help taxpayers and tax professionals, the Internal Revenue Service today announced a special new page on IRS.gov to provide the latest details and information affecting the 2022 filing season and ongoing efforts by the agency to address the inventory of previously filed tax returns.
During this tax season, taxpayers face a number of issues due to critical tax law changes that took place in 2021 and ongoing challenges related to the pandemic. To raise awareness about these issues and provide people with the latest timely information, the IRS has created a special tax season web page. This page will provide people with a quick overview of information to help people filing tax returns as well as those who have previous year tax returns awaiting processing by the IRS.
“The IRS is taking numerous steps to keep this tax season going smoothly while also taking additional action to address the inventory of tax returns filed last year,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We’re off to a good start processing tax returns and issuing refunds. But we want people to have an easy way to see the latest information. This new page provides a one-stop shop for the latest key information people and the tax community may need.”
The “special tax season alerts” page will be available through the IRS.gov home page and shared through social media and other channels.
The page will include the latest filing season updates. The IRS began tax season on Jan. 24, and in less than two weeks more than 4 million tax refunds have gone out worth nearly $10 billon. Millions more will go out in the weeks ahead as the IRS enters an important period of the tax season.
The page also includes links to important information related to ongoing efforts by the IRS to address the inventory of unprocessed tax returns filed before this year. This includes steps to stop more than a dozen common letters to taxpayers, and updates on IRS operations and the number of unprocessed tax returns.
“The combination of the pandemic, new tax laws and numerous other factors led to an unprecedented amount of unprocessed tax returns and correspondence remaining in the IRS inventory during 2021,” Rettig said. “We must continue pursuing innovative strategies while supporting the hard work and dedication of our employees to fulfill our commitment to return inventories to a healthy level before entering the 2023 filing season. These steps are making a difference. Refunds for tax returns and amended tax returns in the inventory continue to flow out to taxpayers.”
The IRS continues to urge taxpayers to carefully review their tax filings for accuracy and file electronically with direct deposit to speed refunds. Special tips are available in several places on IRS.gov, including these top 5 tips; basics on the 2022 tax season and IRS Tax Time Guide.
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