Hiring an independent contractor is often the simplest way for a business to get help in the door. However, the IRS, state labor and employment boards, unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation authorities all investigate whether or not employers are properly classifying workers. If any of these authorities determine that a worker that is being treated as an independent contractor should actually be an employee the remedies to correct the misclassification can be costly.
There are many benefits of classifying a worker as an independent contractor such as not providing the contractor with employee benefits, avoiding employer payroll tax liability, the ability to budget a specific amount for a project without paying overtime or holiday pay, savings in clerical costs and recordkeeping, less liability, and savings on workers compensation and unemployment insurance. While a hired independent contractor and employer may be in agreement in regards to their status, the IRS or other authority could disagree if they deem the relationship falls under the definition of employer-employee.
If the IRS or other authority determines that a worker classified as an independent contractor is actually an employee it can prove costly—the employer will be liable for past employer payroll taxes as well as penalties and interest and the burden of filing or amending all necessary payroll tax returns. If the issue is serious enough court time and costs or even criminal sanctions could result. Also, any retirement plans or other benefit plans that require certain compliance could be invalidated. Read more
Yesterday the IRS announced a third round of their highly successful Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative (OVDI) program. The OVDI was highly publicized with the 2009 revelation that several large Swiss banks, including UBS, were going to be cooperating with the IRS in disclosing the names of US citizens and residents holding Swiss bank accounts. Read more
With year end approaching, we felt it would be appropriate to remind our clients of the 100% Bonus Depreciation deduction that is expiring at the end of 2011. For all eligible assets placed in service before December 31, 2011, you may deduct 100% of the cost on your tax return. That is a full, 100% deduction for major equipment, computers, and other business use assets. Bonus Depreciation is not subject to the typical limitations that Section 179 expense is subject to. For instance, Bonus Depreciation can create a loss that can be carried back to prior years to claim a refund. Bonus Depreciation is also not subject to dollar limitations on assets placed in service like the Section 179 deduction is. Read more
In an unusual move, the IRS recently issued Notice 2011-72 determining personal use of employer provided cell phones is not taxable to the employee. Additionally, no record-keeping of usage is required. This is in stark contrast to many other provisions of the Internal Revenue Code that have strict record-keeping and substantiation requirements. Read more
Earlier this year a foreign LLC lost an appeal before the California Board of Equalization because its sole member was a California resident and it was unable to prove that it did not conduct business within California (Appeal of Legend Plus Enterprises, LLC (February 22, 2011) Cal. St. Bd. of Equal. Case No 486026.) If you are a California resident and a member of an LLC formed in another state the LLC may be subject to the CA LLC annual tax even if there is no California source income. At first glance it may seem that the LLC is not subject to the tax since it is an out of state entity. However, the FTB presumes the entity is doing business in California if the LLC has a California member. It is up to the taxpayer to prove otherwise. Read more