Klarinet Archive - Posting 000537.txt from 1997/09
From: Jonathan Cohler <cohler@-----.net>
Subj: Re: Prof. Musician: Employee or Contract Labor
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 16:56:40 -0400
>I play in the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra with about an
>$850,000 budget and a season of about 60 services. We are not a union
>orchestra, as there is no music union in Lubbock. However, there are about
>6 or 8 musicians, including myself, who belong to locals in other cities.
>Our symphony management in their infinite ignoranace tries to save itself
>money by declaring musicians as contract labor rather than employees. Each
>year they issue us 1099 rather than W-2 income tax statements. By doing
>this, they avoid having to withhold tax from our checks and avoid having to
>make employer contributions to Social Security.
>Needless to say, the musicians of our orchestra do not think this is fair.
>Is there anyone on the list who can share some insight on how we might
>proceed to have this practice changed by our management. Any other
>experience dealing with this issue would also certainly be appreciated.
>Thanks! Bob Walzel
>Texas Tech University School of Music
>PO Box 42033 Lubbock, TX 79409-2033
It's very simply really. It is not a matter of fair or unfair. It is a
matter of fact (once again).
Whether a person is an employee or independent contractor is not a matter
of opinion. There is a form that you can get from the IRS. I forget what
it is called, but it is the form for determining the status of a worker.
Here's what you do:
1. Fill out the form and send it into the IRS. The form asks about
twenty different questions about you and your work etc....
2. After awhile (who knows how long the IRS takes) they will return
a determination to you as to whether you are an employee or an
independent contractor. The IRS determines this, nobody else.
3. If they determine that you are, in fact, an employee, and that
your employer has been treating you as an independent contractor,
they will then proceed to notify your employer to change the
practice. They will charge the employer for all back taxes that
it owes and they can asses triple damages (as I recall).
4. Furthermore, if they determine that you are representative of a
class of workers (like other players in the orchestra), they will
take the action on behalf of everyone.
I learned this all at a seminar I took from the IRS for small business owners.
Again, the key thing here is that whether the management of the orchestra
says you are an independent contractor is irrelevant. Only the IRS
determines who is and is not an independent contractor.
Go for it. Let us know what happens.