1099 Vs. Employee

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  • date January 30, 2024
1099 Vs. Employee

Determining whether to classify a worker as an independent contractor (1099) or an employee (payroll) is a critical decision that depends on several factors. The classification should be made in accordance with both federal and state labor laws, as well as IRS guidelines. Misclassifying workers can result in legal and financial penalties, so it’s essential to get it right. Here are some general guidelines:

Independent Contractor (1099):

  1. Independent Work: If the worker operates independently, sets their hours, and has control over how they perform their job, they are more likely to be classified as an independent contractor.
  2. Specialized Skills: Independent contractors often have specialized skills or expertise that they bring to the job, making them less integrated into your core business operations.
  3. Short-Term or Project-Based Work: If the worker is hired for a specific project or a short-term engagement, it’s more likely they can be classified as an independent contractor.
  4. Providing Their Tools and Equipment: Independent contractors typically use their own tools, equipment, and resources to perform their work.
  5. Limited Supervision: Independent contractors usually require minimal supervision. You specify the desired outcome but not the detailed method of achieving it.

Employee (Payroll):

  1. Control Over Work: If you have significant control over how, when, and where the worker performs their job, they may be considered employees. This includes setting their hours, providing equipment, and closely supervising their work.
  2. Long-Term or Ongoing Relationship: If the worker has an ongoing relationship with your company and performs tasks central to your business, they are more likely to be classified as an employee.
  3. Training and Integration: If you provide training and integrate the worker into your company’s operations, they may be considered an employee.
  4. Benefits and Taxes: Employees typically receive benefits like health insurance and retirement plans and may have payroll taxes withheld by the employer.
  5. Full-Time or Part-Time: Whether a worker is full-time or part-time doesn’t solely determine their classification, but it’s a factor to consider along with other elements.


It’s essential to consult with legal counsel or a tax professional when making this determination. The IRS has guidelines and tests (e.g., the IRS Form SS-8 and IRS Publication 15-A) to help you classify workers correctly. Additionally, state labor laws can differ from federal guidelines, so it’s essential to consider both when making this decision. Misclassification can lead to fines, back taxes, and legal liabilities, so it’s crucial to err on the side of caution and ensure you’re compliant with the law.

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