What Does A 1099 Employee Mean? – Everything You Need To Know

Oct 28, 2021

1099 employee filling out tax information

What does 1099 employee mean and how is it different from W2? You can work for a company, or engage workers if you are a business owner, in a number of capacities. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires businesses to report wages paid and taxes withheld from each worker. Both common types of workers get their names from IRS forms the W2 for employees and 1099 for independent contractors.

Understanding the differences between W2 employees and independent contractors is important as it affects legal responsibilities and how taxes are paid. Either tax withholding by business owners in the case of full-time employees or declaring earned income for those considered self-employed.

Those with contractor status are responsible for paying their own social security taxes, Medicare taxes, income tax, federal state, and local taxes. Businesses can also save money on the hiring process, health insurance, retirement plans, and other employee benefit schemes if they engage contract workers in place of those with regular employee status.

Contract labor also has the advantage of being more flexible as they provide specialist services in line with a written agreement and can be bought in to cover busy periods or specific projects. However, it is important to ensure you make the correct employee classification as there are legal risks and potentially large fines if you give a 1099 to employees that should be given employee rather than contract worker status.

Working with ShiftPixy ensures legal compliance and reduces administrative costs for businesses while giving shifters access to regular work and benefits such as retirement plans and healthcare that would usually not be provided for freelancers.

1099 Employee Definition

What’s a 1099 employee? Someone who’s not an employee at all. The term 1099 employee is actually rather misleading as 1099 workers are not employees at all but independent contractors, also known as freelancers, gig workers, or shifters. They may perform the same tasks as regular employees but they are classified differently for tax purposes.

1099 tax forms are used to declare non-employment income such as dividends, interest income, or income earned from contracted or freelance work. With 1099 position jobs workers are responsible for paying their own taxes. This includes social security and Medicare taxes, which are combined as self-employment tax, and income tax. A 1099 employee considered self-employed would be responsible for filing their tax return and paying taxes on a quarterly basis.

What qualifies as a 1099 employee? In order to meet the 1099 tax classification workers need to be self-employed contract workers. It is important to determine the status of workers correctly as businesses can be subject to hefty fines for misclassification of workers. There are two types of workers; W2 employees and 1099 independent contractors, both named after their different tax forms. Hiring an independent contractor will usually be for a defined period of time working on a specific project or task outlined in written contracts. A self-employed worker is a business owner themselves, often a sole proprietor, responsible for their own taxes.

A self-employed individual or freelancer will often provide specialized tasks and work with a number of different businesses each of whom will provide them with a form 1099 NEC.

A hired employee on the other hand is employed long-term and receives a salary out of which the employer withholds social security and Medicare tax as well as payroll taxes.

Benefits of Hiring an Independent Contractor

There are a number of benefits of hiring contractors vs. W2 employees, including administrative savings, tax savings, and better flexibility.

Using shifters or other freelancers is a great way to fill human resource gaps in your business. Not only are they highly skilled in their area of expertise so require less training, but they are also available on an on-demand basis meaning you pay workers only when you need them.

When you hire an independent contractor they are not subject to minimum wage laws. In some instances, 1099 position pay may be higher than employees pay, but the business is not responsible for income tax, social security, or health insurance as instead workers pay their own employment tax.

Administrative costs are lower in terms of the hiring and onboarding process as well as when it comes to payroll and filing taxes. When hiring a freelancer, businesses simply pay a direct deposit to their bank account and fill out a 1099 form.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What does it mean to be a 1099 employee?

Being a 1099 employee means you are not an employee at all but working for a company as an independent contractor. What 1099 means is that you are responsible for filing your taxes and paying estimated taxes on a quarterly basis, including social security and Medicare tax and income tax. Tax preparation and tax filings can be daunting if you are used to being a hired employee so it can pay to hire a professional, the cost of which can be deducted as a business expense.

What is a 1099 worker?

A 1099 position means that the worker is an independent contractor rather than an employee. Instead of the business filling out a form W2, filing it with the IRS, and making tax deductions on the worker’s behalf, companies must provide the worker with a 1099 form for them to complete their own tax returns.

There is a test to determine whether you have employees vs. independent contractors and if you are in doubt you can fill out a form SS8.

Can you 1099 an employee?

If you have performed the test and determined that someone you employ classifies as a 1099 employee, meaning they count as an independent contractor, then you may be able to make them self-employed. Although switching W2 workers to a 1099 job, meaning they are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance, don’t get employee benefits, and are responsible for filling their own taxes, may not be popular with existing workers.

How does a 1099 work?

A 1099 form is used to report business payments in independent contractors to the IRS. There are various types of 1099 employees including temporary staff, freelancers, real estate agents, and social media experts all of whom may complete contracts for your business.

Previously a form 1099 MISC would have been used although companies should now fill out a form 1099NEC when paying contractors and file the form with both the IRS and the payee.

Payees should then include the information on the form when they submit their information to the IRS as it will be used to calculate the tax payment they are required to make.