The U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued, effective April 6, 2020, temporary rules (“Rules”) relative to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”). The Rules focus on the “Small Employer Exemption” (defined below). Importantly, the DOL’s guidance answers several questions that have been the topic of debate among many business owners, tax advisors and commentators.
As discussed in prior posts, the FFCRA went into effect on April 1, 2020. The legislation contains a number of tax provisions that fund the FFCRA’s mandatory paid leave provisions.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study conducted almost 8 years ago, approximately 10.3 million workers in the United States, or 7.4% of the workforce, are classified as independent contractors. Today that number, despite recessionary times, is likely dramatically larger.
The federal government, based upon recent case studies including federal and state income tax and unemployment tax audits, recently concluded many workers classified as independent contractors are actually employees. Consequently, worker classification is currently a hot topic for the Internal Revenue Service, the state departments of revenue, and other federal, state and local agencies.
Government focus on worker classification is not a new phenomenon. Due to current economic and political pressures, however, it has risen to the forefront of governmental attention. During the last few years, federal, state and local agencies have dramatically increased audit activity, targeting worker misclassification.
Larry J. Brant
Larry J. Brant is a Shareholder and the Chair of the Tax & Benefits practice group at Foster Garvey, a law firm based out of the Pacific Northwest, with offices in Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; New York, New York, Spokane, Washington; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Beijing, China. Mr. Brant practices in the Portland office. His practice focuses on tax, tax controversy and transactions. Mr. Brant is a past Chair of the Oregon State Bar Taxation Section. He was the long-term Chair of the Oregon Tax Institute, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Portland Tax Forum. Mr. Brant has served as an adjunct professor, teaching corporate taxation, at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College. He is an Expert Contributor to Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst. Mr. Brant is a Fellow in the American College of Tax Counsel. He publishes articles on numerous income tax issues, including Taxation of S Corporations, Reasonable Compensation, Circular 230, Worker Classification, IRC § 1031 Exchanges, Choice of Entity, Entity Tax Classification, and State and Local Taxation. Mr. Brant is a frequent lecturer at local, regional and national tax and business conferences for CPAs and attorneys. He was the 2015 Recipient of the Oregon State Bar Tax Section Award of Merit.