A recent U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rule was issued to help business owners properly classify workers as employees or independent contractors. The new regulation (RIN 1235-AA43)  was also enacted to help protect workers’ rights.

The new rule becomes effective March 11, 2024, and rescinds the 2021 Independent Contractor Rule.

For business owners, misclassifying employees can lead to tax and withholding consequences.

These six factors can help determine whether a worker should be treated as an employee or independent contractor. No factor has any more weight than the other.

  • Any opportunity for profit or loss a worker might have
  • The financial stake and nature of any resources a worker has invested in the work
  • The degree of permanence of the work relationship
  • The degree of control an employer has over the person’s work
  • Whether the work the person does is essential to the employer’s business
  • A factor regarding the worker’s skill and initiative

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) describes an individual as an independent contractor “if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done.”

Tax withholding implications for businesses

When a worker is classified as an employee, the employer must withhold income taxes as well as Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes from the employee’s paycheck. The worker and the employer each contribute 7.65% of the worker’s pay to pay the FICA taxes.

When a worker is classified as an independent contractor, the worker is responsible for remitting income tax and for the entire 15.3% FICA tax.

Worker classification also has Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax implications. State governments often receive contributions from employers to help fund programs such as unemployment and disability insurance for the portion of its workforce classified as employees, but not for those classified as independent contractors.

W-2 and other tax deadlines

Note that Jan. 31 is the deadline for submitting to the government W-2 wage statements, 1099-NEC forms for independent contractors and other forms.

For additional deadlines, visit our tax returns information page in our new Client Resource Center. Here, you can find due dates and other information helpful to completing your return.

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