Should Your Independent Contractors Really Be Employees?

About a half year ago, I wrote about some mistakes that small business owners make https://mycpajay.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/mistakes-small-business-owners-make-that-can-cost-themdoh/. One of the items that I briefly discussed was classifying employees as independent contractors, which has become an issue that IRS and state unemployment funds have zeroed in on, in recent past. This article will discuss the issue in a little more detail, and give a few tips on how to stay on the right side of the law.

Here are some interesting stats:

-a 2005 Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicated that contractors made up only 7.4% of all workers, or about 10.3 million workers

-a 2011 study found that 16 million workers were classified as independent contractors, and predicted a higher use of contractors in the next ten years

-a 2000 Department of Labor study found that 10-30% of all employers misclassified workers, and in 2008, IRS found that when employers asked IRS for proper classification, only 3% of workers in question were actually independent contractors, and not employees. You don’t need to be a math whiz to see that most workers are employees!

Considering that it can be about 30% cheaper to call somebody an independent contractor, you can understand why people would want to take that route, even if a person really should be considered an employee. To throw a little fear into you, a 2009 Government Accountability Office report said that 71% of IRS worker misclassification examinations resulted in a change of the worker status. Based on that, the odds are not on your side if you misclassify an employee as a contractor, and you’re called in for an audit. So what can you do to better your odds of classifying correctly?

Review Form 1099s for proper classification-Form SS-8 (Determination of Worker Status For Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes…) is a great guide for determining who has control over the worker, which is one of the main determinants of whether the worker is independent or not. Figure out whether similar workers are categorized differently.

Review workers who received Form W-2 are now treated as contractors-If there’s a reason why somebody who had been an employee is now considered independent, make sure you’ve got a clear, documented explanation for the change.

Review your vendor list, check register, and accounts payable-you can add to your troubles if you were required to file Form 1099-MISC for people who actually are independent, but you didn’t. Penalties can add up. Starting with 2011 business returns, there are now two specific questions about this, so if you have 1099 filing responsibilities, don’t forget to do it.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the employee vs independent contractor issue is something that’s receiving more and more attention, and probably won’t go away any time soon, so make sure you’re doing the right thing, to save yourself from potential major headaches in the future.

Please pass this article on to any small business owner you know, who may benefit from this information, and leave a comment if you’ve had any experiences with this issue, or were audited.

Jay E Reiner CPA PLLC, 1400 14th St N, Arlington, VA 22209

Gambling and Taxes

If you like to gamble, then I have a wager for you. I’ll bet that you can learn something new about gambling and taxes from this article!

Whether you’re into rolling the dice, horse racing, cards, slot machines, or even betting on the Super Bowl or playing bingo, did you know that your gambling winnings are fully taxable and must be reported on your tax return? Did I win the bet yet?

Here’s some information about gambling and taxes:

1-Gambling income isn’t just limited to casinos or horse racing, but also includes lottery winnings, raffles, and even the fair market value of prizes, such as cars and trips.

2-The payer (casino, race track, etc) is required to give you a Form W-2G (Certain Gambling Winnings) if you receive $1,200 or more in winnings from bingo or slot machines, more than $5,000 from a poker tournament, or $600 or more in other gambling winnings (and the payout is at least 300 times the amount of the wager). There are other instances where Form W-2G is required, but I’ve covered the more common ones.

3-Generally you will report your gambling winnings on the “other income” line of your tax return (Form 1040).

4-You can claim your gambling losses to the extent of your winnings, as an itemized deduction on Schedule A, under “other miscellaneous deductions”. Note that this type of deduction is not subject to the 2% adjusted gross income limitation that’s applicable to items such as tax preparation fees, safe deposit box fees, and unreimbursed employee expenses. While you may have gambling losses, you’re not allowed to net them against the income; you must report the income as I indicated in #3, and report the losses as I just described.

5-You must keep accurate records to substantiate any gambling losses. These records can include receipts, tickets, statements, a diary, and any other documentation you have. As with any tax deduction, if you’re audited and don’t have adequate substantiation, the deduction will be disallowed.

I hope you found this information useful, whether I won the bet or not. Please forward this along to any of your gambling buddies, and happy (but responsible) gambling!