• James D. Lynch

What Employers Need to Know when Classifying Workers as Employees or Independent Contractors

It is critical for business owners to correctly determine whether the individuals providing services are employees or independent contractors.


Whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee depends on the relationship between the worker and the business. 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 normally offer their services to the public.


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 without a reasonable basis, 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.


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 taxpayers who agree to prospectively treat their workers as employees. Taxpayers 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.