How Is Independent Contractor Income Paid and Reported?

Share This:

How Is Independent Contractor Income Paid and Reported?

If you’re self-employed or a freelancer, you Maynardville payday loans no credit check likely get paid as an independent contractor rather than an employee. The IRS defines an independent contractor as someone who performs work for someone else, while controlling the way in which the work is done. In other words, someone pays you to perform a service or deliver a product, but they only have a say in the final outcome. As an independent contractor, there are some unique responsibilities where taxes are concerned. Understanding the guidelines for filing and paying taxes as an independent contractor can help you avoid issues with the IRS. A financial advisor can also help you optimize your tax strategy for your financial goals and needs.

Who Qualifies as an Independent Contractor?

The key characteristic of an independent contractor is retaining control of how the work they’re being paid to do is performed. With that guideline in mind, there are a variety of careers that offer the ability to work as an independent contractor, such as:

  • Accountants
  • Freelance writers
  • Hairstylists
  • Lawn care providers
  • Electricians
  • Physicians
  • Dentists
  • Attorneys

Independent contractor status can apply regardless of how your business is structured. You could be considered an independent contractor if you operate as a sole proprietor, form a limited liability company, or LLC, or adopt a corporate structure. As long as you’re not classified as an employee, you can be considered an independent contractor.

Take note: If you hire people to work for you in your business, you’ll have to decide whether to classify those people as independent contractors or employees. Incorrectly classifying an employee as an independent contractor could trigger a tax penalty. The IRS considers someone to be an employee if the person who’s paying them to work can control what will be done by that employee and how it will be done.

Employees typically get paid on a consistent schedule, such as weekly, biweekly or monthly. As an independent contractor, it’s up to you and the payer to come to an agreement on when you’ll be paid and how that transaction will take place. For example, the payer may mail you a check, pay you via wire transfer or send payment through an ACH deposit.

These payments are not considered a salary or wages for tax purposes because the vendor doesn’t deduct taxes. That means no federal income taxes, Social Security taxes or Medicare taxes are taken out before you receive the money. Be mindful of how you decide to receive the payment though – some services like PayPal may charge a fee.

Come income tax season, the payer is required to send you a Form 1099-MISC reporting all of the income they paid you the previous calendar year. This Form 1099-MISC takes the place of a W-2, which traditionally employed individuals receive from their companies. There is one exception to this rule though. If you earned less than $600, you still must report the income, but the payer doesn’t have to send you a Form 1099-MISC. If you work with multiple people or businesses throughout the year, you may receive multiple copies of this form. Payers are required to have these completed and postmarked by the end of January each year.

Paying Taxes as an Independent Contractor

For tax purposes, the IRS treats independent contractors as self-employed individuals. That means you’re subject to a different set of tax payment and filing rules than employees.

You’ll need to file a tax return with the IRS if your net earnings from self-employment are $400 or more. Along with your Form 1040, you’ll file a Schedule C to calculate your net income or loss for your business. You can file a Schedule C-EZ form if you have less than $5,000 in business expenses.