Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Politics of Independent Contractors

As you know I live in Nevada.  There is an article in the Las Vegas Sun today about independent contractors and political campaigns.  In part it reads: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s campaign has accused his Republican rival, Sharron Angle, of attempting to skirt tax law by paying her staff as independent contractors instead of employees subject to payroll taxes. Since she filed to run, Angle has paid her staff as consultants and as such has made no payments to the Internal Revenue Service. Although not uncommon for political candidates, the practice could raise legal issues with the IRS if she doesn’t carefully follow the rules dictating when a worker can be classified as an independent contractor.

What I found most fascinating were the comments made about the story.  For example one commenter wrote:

So, what's the point?? My wife has worked as an independent contractor for years. It's not illegal. By putting this article in the paper, Harry Reid shows his ignorance of how many small businesses and individual workers handle their taxes.

As a matter of fact, it's a common practice and more convenient for some people to either hire independent contractors or to work as independent contractors.There's absolutely nothing wrong here. This is a non-story.

But whether someone is an independent contractor or an employee is not a matter of "convenience" or "common practice" it is suppose to be a matter of IRS regulations.  Right now the GAO is guesstimating that over 30 million workers are misclassified.  States are passing legislation right and left to make it more "costly" to misclassify workers and millions of dollars are lost in revenue for SUI etc due to this type of misclassification.

My question here is three-fold.  First, If our political candidates don't think enough of our tax laws to follow them when they are not holding an elected office can they still create, and vote on legislation that will help keep the country moving in the right direction which ever direction that may be?

Second, why is it that no one seems to understand the basic rules of independent contractors?

And third, should people who deliberately break tax laws for their own financial gain (remember she doesn't have to pay FICA or SUI or FUTA so the campaign saves thousands of dollars which can be spent on ads and such) be given a chance to run our country?  I include all those who hold appointed offices as well.  Like paying for Nanny taxes or back income taxes.

Let us know what you think.

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