23 May Church Employees Vs Independent Contractors
Incorrectly classifying someone as an independent contractor instead of an employee can be very costly for the church based on IRS penalties.
When in doubt, your best bet is to classify someone as an employee. If you really want to classify an individual as an independent contractor, you can’t dictate how much time they spend working or how they do their work. You also can’t provide them any church paid benefits and should not pay them an hourly rate or salary; you must pay them based on their contract fee.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses twenty factors to determine whether or not an employer has enough control over a worker in order for that individual to be classified as an employee. Designed only as a guideline, this checklist can help determine whether you possess enough control to demonstrate an employer-employee relationship:
1. Profit or loss. Can the worker make a profit or suffer a loss as a result of the work, aside from the money earned from the project? (This should involve real economic risk-not just the risk of not getting paid.)
2. Investment. Does the worker have an investment in the equipment and facilities used to do the work? (The greater the investment, the more likely Independent Contractor status.)
3. Works for more than one firm. Does the person work for more than one company at a time? (This tends to indicate Independent Contractor status, but is not conclusive since employees can also work for more than one employer.)
4. Services offered to the general public. Does the worker offer services to the general public?
5. Instructions. Do you have the right to give the worker instructions about when, where and how to work? (This shows control over the worker.)
6. Training. Do you train the worker to do the job in a particular way? (Independent Contractors are already trained.)
7. Integration. Are the worker’s services so important to your business that they have become a necessary part of the business? (This may show that the worker is subject to your control.)
8. Services rendered personally. Must the worker provide the services personally, as opposed to delegating tasks to someone else? (This indicates that you are interested in the methods employed, and not just the results.)
9. Hiring assistants. Do you hire, supervise, and pay the worker’s assistants? (Independent Contractors hire and pay their own staff.)
10. Continuing relationship. Is there an ongoing relationship between the worker and yourself? (A relationship can be considered ongoing if services are performed frequently, but irregularly.)
11. Work hours. Do you set the worker’s hours? (Independent Contractors are masters of their own time.)
12. Full-time work. Must the worker spend all of their time on your job? (Independent Contractors choose when and where they will work.)
13. Work done on premises. Must the individual work on your premises, or do you control the route or location where the work must be performed? (Answering no doesn’t by itself mean Independent Contractor status.)
14. Sequence. Do you have the right to determine the order in which services are performed? (This shows control over the worker.)
15. Reports. Must the worker give you reports accounting for their actions? (This may show lack of independence.)
16. Pay Schedules. Do you pay the worker by hour, week, or month? (Independent Contractors are generally paid by the job or commission, although by industry practice, some are paid by the hour.)
17. Expenses. Do you pay the worker’s business or travel costs? (This tends to show control.)
18. Tools and materials. Do you provide the worker with equipment, tools or materials? (Independent Contractors generally supply the materials for the job and use their own tools and equipment.)
19. Right to fire. Can you terminate the worker? (An Independent Contractor cannot be fired without subjecting you to the risk of breach of contract lawsuit.)
20. Worker’s right to quit. Can the worker quit at any time, without incurring liability? (An Independent Contractor has a legal obligation to complete the contract).
If you answer “yes” to all of the first four questions, you are likely dealing with an Independent Contractor. Answering “yes” to any question from numbers 5 through 20 means the worker more likely should be classified as your employee. Note: The IRS recognizes that the importance of each factor depends on individual circumstances.
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