February 06, 2009
Question of the Week: Can You Tell Me More about Statutory Employees?
Filed under: News
Vision Payroll

This week’s question comes from Carolyn, a business owner. I read recently about statutory employees and would like to find out if some of our new hires would qualify as statutory employees. Can you tell me more about statutory employees? Answer: Common law considers some workers employees and some independent contractors. By statute, some independent contractors are treated as employees for employment tax purposes.

There are four categories of independent contractors that might be statutory employees:

  1. A driver who distributes beverages (other than milk) or meat, vegetable, fruit, or bakery products; or who picks up and delivers laundry or dry cleaning, if the driver is your agent or is paid on commission.
  2. A full-time life insurance sales agent whose principal business activity is selling life insurance or annuity contracts, or both, primarily for one life insurance company.
  3. An individual who works at home on materials or goods that you supply and that must be returned to you or to a person you name, if you also furnish specifications for the work to be done.
  4. A full-time traveling or city salesperson who works on your behalf and turns in orders to you from wholesalers, retailers, contractors, or operators of hotels, restaurants, or other similar establishments. The goods sold must be merchandise for resale or supplies for use in the buyer’s business operation. The work performed for you must be the salesperson’s principal business activity.

If the independent contractor must perform the services personally as an explicit or implicit clause of the service contract, if the independent contractor does not have a substantial investment in the non-transportation facilities property and equipment, and the services are performed for the same payer on a continuing basis, then the payer must withhold social security and Medicare tax from payments to contractors.

For workers in categories 1 and 4 above who have payments subject to social security and Medicare tax under these rules, the payments are also considered wages for federal unemployment (FUTA) purposes. Payments to workers in categories 2 and 3 above are never considered wages for FUTA purposes.

Payments to statutory employees are never subject to federal income tax withholding.

Report payments to statutory employees on Form W-2, box 1, box 3 (to the wage limit), and box 5. Be sure to check the box 13 “Statutory employee” checkbox on the Form W-2. Statutory employees report the amount from Form W-2, box 1 on Form 1040, Schedule C, line 1 and complete the checkbox on that line. They may also deduct related business expenses on Schedule C, to the extent allowable by law.

Contact Vision Payroll if you have any questions on statutory employees.


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