Employee or Independent Contractor: Know the Difference!

Are some of your workers independent contractors instead of employees? Correctly classifying your workers will preserve the tax breaks that come with hiring independent contractors — and help you avoid major penalties.

Why it matters

Employers are required to withhold taxes for employees and pay the employer’s share of payroll taxes on wages. These amounts are reported to the IRS, as well as state tax obligations. An employer may also be liable for fringe benefits for eligible employees, like health insurance and matching 401(k) contributions.

Conversely, an employer doesn’t have to withhold or pay taxes on behalf of independent contractors. These workers take care of taxes, insurance and other benefits on their own.This is why the IRS pays special attention to how workers are classified.

Control is key. Generally, the issue boils down to control. If an employer maintains behavioral and financial control over a worker, he or she should be treated as an employee. Independent contractors, on the other hand, have a high level of autonomy and independence over the work being performed.

Avoid misclassification

The stakes are high. If the IRS discovers a misclassification, it will assess back taxes for the tax years in question, plus interest and penalties. For an intentional error, criminal sanctions may be imposed.

Here’s what an employer can do to avoid the IRS challenging an independent contractor classification:

  • Understand the tax rules. If you exercise a great deal of control over workers, they are likely to be considered employees.
  • Be specific. Spell out the services to be performed by independent contractors, their responsibilities and the expectations in a written contract.
  • Keep work schedules flexible. Avoid setting a regular work schedule for independent contractors. Allow them the ability to set their own hours.
  • Maintain separate payment practices. Compensate independent contractors on a per-job basis. Don’t pay them a regular amount each payroll period, like you do employees.
  • Review work arrangements periodically. Request invoices from independent contractors before payments are made.
  • Be careful about benefits. You don’t need to cover independent contractors under a health insurance plan or provide other fringe benefits that are typically given to employees.

Keep in mind that an employer that has experienced misclassification issues may qualify for tax penalty relief if it can establish it has a reasonable basis for treating workers as independent contractors. This is based on various factors and past history. Back taxes and penalties may be waived if the employer has been consistent in its treatment.

Call us if you have questions about your business situation.

definition of employee vs. indpenedent contractor in the dictionary

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

Insero Named Best Accounting Workplace for Seventh Consecutive Year

Insero & Co. CPAs has been named as one of the 2018 Best Accounting Firms to Work for by Accounting Today for the seventh consecutive year. Accounting Today has partnered with Best Companies Group to identify companies that have excelled in creating quality workplaces for employees. Insero is the only firm in New York state to have been named to the list each of the last seven years.

This survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best 100 employers in the accounting industry, benefiting the industry’s economy, workforce and businesses. Insero was ranked 13th in the medium employer category, consisting of firms with 50 to 249 U.S. employees.

“We’re thrilled to receive this honor for the seventh year in a row,” said David Mandrycky, Director of Human Resources at Insero. “We owe many thanks to our entire team for upholding our focus on our people and building an environment where people are fulfilled and excited to come to work each day. Because of this focus, our reputation across the state has grown, employee turnover rate is well below the industry average and we are an employer of choice on the college campuses. That, in turn, benefits our clients, who appreciate being able to work with the best people. It’s truly a win-win.”

Employees of Insero & Co. CPAs, named a Best Accounting Firm to Work for, celebrate in downtown Rochester, NY

Companies from across the country entered the two-part survey process to determine Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work for. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process, analyzed the data and determined the final ranking.

“The firms on this list represent the best workplaces in the accounting profession,” said Accounting Today Editor-in-Chief Daniel Hood. “They are outstanding places to build a career.”

ABOUT BEST ACCOUNTING FIRMS TO WORK FOR

For more information on Accounting Today’s Best Accounting Firms to Work for program, visit www.BestAccountingFirmsToWorkFor.com.

ABOUT INSERO & CO. CPAS

Rochester-based Insero & Co. CPAs is an accounting and business advisory practice with five locations serving New York state. A full-service public accounting firm, Insero provides attest, tax and consulting services to government agencies, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations and businesses ranging from privately held family businesses to multi-national corporations. These clients represent many industries, including service, manufacturing, distribution, high-tech, telecommunications, education, social services and real estate. For more information, visit www.inserocpa.com.

 

Are You Using QuickBooks’ Reminders?

We can’t emphasize this enough: QuickBooks’ Reminders can prevent countless problems with your finances.

How do you know when it’s time to pay a bill or follow up on overdue customer payments or print payroll checks? If you’re still using a paper calendar and sticky notes and file folders, there’s a good chance you’re missing some important deadlines on occasion. Manual methods aren’t effective enough when you’re dealing with your business finances. You might experience:

  • Credit problems.
  • Overextended customers.
  • Unhappy vendors and employees.

If you’re missing the mark frequently, you won’t be able to get a true picture of your financial status, and your cash flow will suffer.

Use QuickBooks’ built-in reminders to avoid this unnecessary drama. Here’s how they work.

Totally Customizable

To start setting up Reminders, open the Edit menu and select Preferences. Click Reminders in the left vertical pane. With the My Preferences tab highlighted, click in the box in front of Show Reminders List when opening a Company file to create a checkmark. Then click on the Company Preferences tab to open this window:

QuickBooks Company Preferences Tab Screen Shot

When you’re setting up your Preferences for QuickBooks’ Reminders, you can customize each type in multiple ways.

As you can see in the above image, QuickBooks lets you create reminders for a wide variety of actions. For each, you can indicate whether the Reminders window will display a summary or a list, or whether that particular activity will not be included. For those that are time-sensitive, like Checks to Print, you’ll also be able to specify how much warning you’ll get – how many days in advance each item will appear in the Reminders list.

My Preferences vs Company Preferences

If you haven’t worked much with QuickBooks’ Preferences, you may not understand the difference between the two tabs that appear in each window. Only the QuickBooks Administrator can make changes on the Company Preferences page, since these affect company-wide settings. All users, though, can change any options that appear in the My Preferences window.

Here’s an example of a Preference (General) where all employees can indicate how they want QuickBooks to work for them specifically:

My Preferences Screen Shot in QuickBooks

Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then General to open this window. Everyone who uses QuickBooks can set up their Preferences here, but only the administrator can modify Company Preferences.

Using Reminders

If you indicated in My Preferences that you want the Reminders window to open every time you open your company file in QuickBooks, it should appear on top of your desktop. If you didn’t, or if you need to see it after you’ve closed it, open the Company menu and select Reminders. A link should also be available in the toolbar.

Using the Reminders tool is like using any other interactive to-do list.

QuickBooks Reminders Window Screen Shot

QuickBooks’ Reminders window displays the tasks you need to do today and in the near future. You can click the arrows to the left of each boldfaced category to expand or collapse the list.

The left pane of the window displays tasks that must be done today, while the right shows upcoming tasks. Small arrows to the left of each task category expand and collapse each section when you click on them. Double-click a task (not the category label), and the relevant form or other document opens. When you’ve completed the chore, it will disappear from the list.

There are two icons in the upper right of the window (not pictured here). Click the plus (+) sign, and the Add To Do window opens. You can create six types of to-do items here: call, fax, e-mail, meeting, appointment, and task. Each can be assigned to a customer, vendor, or employee, or earmarked as a lead. You can designate a priority (low, medium, high) and a status (active, inactive, done) to each. You can also assign a time and date due, and enter descriptive details. Each to-do then appears in the appropriate place in QuickBooks.

The other icon, a small gear, opens your Preferences for Reminders.

The mechanics of setting up your Reminders window are not difficult. What can be a challenge is watching your cash flow as all these transactions occur. If you’re struggling with that, let’s sit down together and develop a plan for keeping your cash flow positive while meeting your financial obligations.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

Tax Update: February 2017

At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit; and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP (formerly known as McGladrey LLP). This includes regular updates on the latest federal, state, and international tax news. We hope that you find these informative and useful, and invite you to reach out to us if you have any questions.

Border Adjusted Tax proposals may impact exporters and importers
A new destination-based tax regime may be part of comprehensive tax overhaul, but details remain unclear.
Read more

New revenue recognition guidance is looming
Even though the tax rules have not changed, a change in book recognition could create a change in the tax method of accounting.
Read more

Employee stock ownership from three perspectives (video)
Employee stock ownership plans can be attractive to business owners, employees and companies overall. Anne Bushman discusses the benefits.
Watch now

Final rules require 5472s from foreign-owned disregarded entities
Read more

Capitol Hill

Source: RSM US LLP
Used with permission as a member of the RSM US Alliance
http://rsmus.com/our-insights/newsletters/tax-digest.html

Disclaimer

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please contact us directly.

Tax & Business Letter: Winter 2016

This issue’s topics include:

  • Hiring for the holidays? Pay attention to your Affordable Care Act responsibilities
  • Keep your business healthy with a comprehensive annual checkup
  • Are you making the most of your vehicle expense deductions?
  • Get your finances in shape for 2017
  • Use this free tool to proactively monitor your credit
  • This tax break offers benefits and surprises

Capture

Click Here to Download

(more…)

FLSA Overtime Rule Blocked by Federal Judge

The federal overtime rule scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2016 has been blocked by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III, who issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday. The Department of Labor (DOL) rule would have essentially doubled the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) salary threshold for overtime pay exemption.

To learn more about what this recent development means for you and your business, click here for an informative article from the Society for Human Resource Management.

 

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At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. We hope that you find these informative and useful, and invite you to reach out to us if you have any questions.

What Are Payroll Items in QuickBooks?

If you plan to process your own payroll using QuickBooks, you need to understand how payroll items work.

Considering processing your own payroll in QuickBooks? Whether you’re moving from a payroll service or getting ready to pay your first employee, you’re taking on a complex set of tasks that requires a great deal of setup and absolute precision. But the reward is complete control over your compensation records and transactions, and constant access to your payroll data.

If you have no experience dealing with paychecks, deductions, and payroll taxes, we strongly recommend that you let us help you get started. QuickBooks simplifies the actual mechanics of setting up and running payroll, but there’s still a lot you need to know.

It goes without saying that accuracy is critical here. You’re responsible for your employees’ livelihoods and for maintaining any benefits they’ll receive. Federal, state, and local taxing agencies will count on you to submit the proper payroll taxes and filings on time; failure to do so can result in stiff penalties and worse.

A Look Around Payroll Items

That said, we’ll give you a brief preview of how QuickBooks Payroll Items work. You must first make sure that payroll is turned on. Open the Edit menu and click Preferences, then click Payroll & Employees | Company Preferences.

Company Preferences

The Company Preferences screen in Payroll & Employees Preferences

Under QUICKBOOKS PAYROLL FEATURES, make sure the button in front of Full Payroll is filled in by clicking on it. If you’re interested in exploring Intuit’s online payroll service, we can tell you about that, as well as advise you on the other options displayed here.

This element of your accounting is complicated enough that QuickBooks has a separate setup tool to guide you through the myriad details you’ll need to provide. You find this tool by going to Employees | Payroll Setup. This is a multi-screen, wizard-like tool that walks you through the process of providing information about employees, compensation, benefits and other additions/deductions, and taxes. Each page poses questions, and you provide answers by entering data and selecting options from drop-down lists. In doing so, you’re creating Payroll Items.

This is a time- and labor-intensive process, one that will send you scrambling for all of the minutiae that make up your payroll system. Once you have your payroll framework established, though, as we said earlier, everything will be in one place and easily accessible.

A Useful List

The information you entered in Payroll Setup is likely to change and need modification. Maybe you forgot to account for something while you were working in the wizard, or perhaps you just want to look up a bit of payroll data. To do any of these, open the Lists menu and click on Payroll Item List.

 New Payroll Item

You can access this menu from the bottom of the Payroll Item List screen.

The window that opens contains a list of the Payroll Items you created. It looks like a checkbook register, with one line devoted to each item. You’ll be able to view, for example, its Type, any Limit imposed, the Payable To name, and Tax Tracking designations. At the bottom of this list, you’ll see three drop-down menus: Payroll Item, Activities, and Reports. When you click on the down arrow next to Payroll Item, you’ll see the menu displayed in the above image.

Warning: There are many options in this menu for altering Payroll Item definitions. QuickBooks allows you to do this, but we would caution you here. If it involves an action that we have not gone over with you, please ask us about it.

This is fairly self-explanatory. To Edit or Delete a Payroll Item or make it Inactive, highlight it in the list and click on the correct option. You can also Customize Columns in the table and perform other related tasks. When you click on New Item and select EZ Setup on the next page, this window opens:

Payroll item type

You can add Payroll Items by working your way through this wizard-like progression of screens.

QuickBooks will help you here by asking questions and building a Payroll Item based on your responses.

There’s much more to know about working with Payroll Items and assigning them to employees. We’re ready to help introduce you to payroll processing in QuickBooks – once you’re ready to take it on.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.