For federal employment tax purposes, the usual common law rules are applicable to determine if a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Under the common law, you must examine the relationship between the worker and the business. You should consider all evidence of the degree of control and independence in this relationship. The facts that provide this evidence fall into three categories – Behavioral Control, Financial Control, and the Relationship of the Parties.
1. Behavioral Control covers facts that show if the business has a right to direct and control what work is accomplished and how the work is done through instructions, training, or other means.
2. Financial Control covers facts that show if the business has a right to direct or control the financial and business aspects of the worker’s job. This includes:
- The extent to which the worker has unreimbursed business expenses
- 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
3. Relationship of the Parties covers facts that show the type of relationship the parties had. This includes:
- Written contracts or oral agreements 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 pay, 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
Determining Whether the Individuals Providing Services are Employees or Independent Contractors
Before you can determine how to treat payments you make for services; you must first know the business relationship that exists between you and the person performing the services. The person performing the services may be:
- An employee (common-law employee)
- A government worker
In determining whether the person providing service is an employee or an independent contractor, all information that provides evidence of the degree of control and independence must be considered.
Common Law Rules
Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination.
Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another. The keys are to look at the entire relationship and consider the extent of the right to direct and control the worker. Finally, document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.
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