Can We Classify Our Musicians As Contractors? 

Can We Classify Our Musicians As Contractors? 

Most churches often struggle with “employee classification” usually with their musicians, nursery workers, secretaries, custodians, etc.  

Generally, the IRS looks at three areas: Behavioral Control, Financial Control, and Type of Relationship. In most cases, church musicians do not pass the test of being an independent contractor because of the control that the employer exercises over the musician’s work. In two Private Letter Rulings, the IRS has maintained that church organists and choir directors are employees, not independent contractors. 

While musicians were free to decline to perform in any program, the church selected the music, dictated the dress, set performance and rehearsal times. In sum, the church exercises sufficient control over the details of the musicians’ performance to make them employees. 

If you tell the musician when, where and/or how to play, they are not independent contractors. They are your employees and may be covered by the FLSA. 

How has your ministry handled employee classification?  

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