Indiana Employment Law: Are Your Workers Properly Classified? (Part 2)

Review of the IRS 20-Factor Test

The 20 factors identified by the IRS and reported in the publication Joint Committee on Taxation, Present Law and Background Relating to Worker Classification for Federal Tax Purposes (JCX-26-07), May 7, 2007 are as follows:

1. Instructions: If the person for whom the services are performed has the right to require compliance with instructions, this indicates employee status.

2. Training: Worker training (e.g., by requiring attendance at training sessions) indicates that the person for whom services are performed wants the services performed in a particular manner (which indicates employee status).

3. Integration: Integration of the worker’s services into the business operations of the person for whom services are performed is an indication of employee status.

4. Services rendered personally: If the services are required to be performed personally, this is an indication that the person for whom services are performed is interested in the methods used to accomplish the work (which indicates employee status).

5. Hiring, supervision, and paying assistants: If the person for whom services are performed hires, supervises or pays assistants, this generally indicates employee status. However, if the worker hires and supervises others under a contract pursuant to which the worker agrees to provide material and labor and is only responsible for the result, this indicates independent contractor status.

6. Continuing relationship: A continuing relationship between the worker and the person for whom the services are performed indicates employee status.

7. Set hours of work: The establishment of set hours for the worker indicates employee status.

8. Full time required: If the worker must devote substantially full time to the business of the person for whom services are performed, this indicates employee status. An independent contractor is free to work when and for whom he or she chooses.

9. Doing work on employer’s premises: If the work is performed on the premises of the person for whom the services are performed, this indicates employee status, especially if the work could be done elsewhere.

10. Order or sequence test: If a worker must perform services in the order or sequence set by the person for whom services are performed, that shows the worker is not free to follow his or her own pattern of work, and indicates employee status.

11. Oral or written reports: A requirement that the worker submit regular reports indicates employee status.

12. Payment by the hour, week, or month: Payment by the hour, week, or month generally points to employment status; payment by the job or a commission indicates independent contractor status.

13. Payment of business and/or traveling expenses: If the person for whom the services are performed pays expenses, this indicates employee status. An employer, to control expenses, generally retains the right to direct the worker.

14. Furnishing tools and materials: The provision of significant tools and materials to the worker indicates employee status.

15. Significant investment: Investment in facilities used by the worker indicates independent contractor status.

16. Realization of profit or loss: A worker who can realize a profit or suffer a loss as a result of the services (in addition to profit or loss ordinarily realized by employees) is generally an independent contractor.

17. Working for more than one firm at a time: If a worker performs more than de minimis services for multiple firms at the same time, that generally indicates independent contractor status.

18. Making service available to the general public: If a worker makes his or her services available to the public on a regular and consistent basis, that indicates independent contractor status.

19. Right to discharge: The right to discharge a worker is a factor indicating that the worker is an employee.

20. Right to terminate: If a worker has the right to terminate the relationship with the person for whom services are performed at any time he or she wishes without incurring liability, that indicates employee status.

Steps To Consider If You Anticipate an Audit

1. Review your contracts. What are the terms and conditions of any contract you have with right of way crews or pole inspection companies or similar independent contractors you may have engaged for similar purposes? What do such contracts say about the twenty factors above?

2. Consider why you treat independent contractors as such and review any supporting documentation. Have you ever sought an opinion of counsel regarding status of certain workers? What steps have you taken to make sure you can qualify for the “safe harbor” provisions of Section 530 of the Code?

3. Organize your documentation and be ready for the obvious questions. Do you have a person in charge of “contract control”, so that you can easily identify all independent contractors you have engaged both currently and in the past, and produce all relevant contracts, proof of payments, descriptions of the work performed, etc.?

Michael L. Schultz is a partner at the Indianapolis office of Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson LLP. He concentrates his practice on civil litigation and routinely handles a wide variety of employment related disputes, representing employees and employers, as well as commercial and residential property damage cases where property owners seek recovery from insurers and third parties.  He also has litigated extensively in the areas of civil rights, personal injury, toxic torts, unincorporated associations, contract disputes, and workers compensation. 

The statements contained herein are for information purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice and should not be construed to form an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions regarding this article, please contact an attorney.