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San Jose worker classification attorneyThe United States economy has changed significantly over the past decade. More and more workers are participating in what is known as the “gig economy” or “sharing economy,” allowing them to set their own schedules while completing tasks such as transporting passengers or making deliveries. While these types of arrangements have benefited many workers and those who use their services, questions have been raised about worker classification and whether certain types of gig workers should be considered independent contractors or employees. While several states, including California, have implemented laws to address this issue, the federal government has also weighed in on the topic. A recent rule change from the Department of Labor created a test that should be used to determine whether a worker is self-employed or is dependent on an employer.

The Department of Labor’s “Economic Reality” Test

Employees have a number of protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including the right to receive a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay when working more than 40 hours a week, as well as benefits such as unemployment insurance, healthcare, retirement plans, sick leave, and family medical leave. Independent contractors are not protected by the FLSA, and rather than having payroll taxes withheld from their pay, they are usually required to pay self-employment taxes. 

To ensure that workers are classified correctly, the Department of Labor has created a new rule that specifies that an “economic reality” test should be used to determine whether a worker is dependent on an employer. Under this rule, there are two core factors that are considered:

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San Jose, CA business and payroll tax attorney

Employers and employees throughout the United States have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses have been forced to close, reduce hours in operation, or lay off employees. While some programs have been implemented to provide relief to both businesses and individual taxpayers, many people and businesses continue to struggle financially. In response to these concerns, a recent presidential order has been issued that will allow employers to defer certain payroll taxes.

Payroll Tax Deferral Available from September through December of 2020

On August 8, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum, “Relief with Respect to Employment Tax Deadlines Applicable to Employers Affected by the Ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disease 2019 Pandemic.” This order allows employers to defer the withholding of employees’ share of Social Security (FICA) taxes on wages paid between September 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020. Deferrals are available for any employee who earns less than $4,000 on a biweekly basis before taxes are withheld.

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small business owners, estimated taxes, self-employed tax obligations, San Jose small business tax lawyer, self-employment taxWhile no one enjoys doing so, everyone has to pay taxes. For many people, taxes are automatically withheld from their paychecks by their employer, and their primary concern is filing their annual tax return. However, paying taxes can become more complicated for small business owners and those who are self-employed. These individuals should be sure to understand the best way to meet their tax obligations in a way that allows them to maintain financial security.

Concerns for Self-Employed Taxpayers

A person is considered self-employed if he or she is the owner of a sole proprietorship, if he or she works as an independent contractor, or if he or she otherwise operates his or her own business. People who are self-employed will not only need to file an annual tax return if they earn a net income of at least $400 in a year, but they must also make estimated tax payments on a quarterly basis.

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