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Who is a 1099 Employee? Everything You Need to Know

HR & Compliance

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Updated on:
April 11, 2024
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Updated on :

April 11, 2024
Who is a 1099 Employee? Everything You Need to Know

The use of 1099 employees is expanding as businesses develop and adapt to the constantly changing nature of work. This article provides comprehensive information on everything you need to know about these self-employed workers. We'll go over how to manage a 1099 worker, the distinctions between traditional employees and 1099 employees, the advantages and disadvantages of working with independent contractors, and more.

What is a 1099 Employee?

A 1099 employee, also known as an independent contractor, is a self-employed individual who provides services to a company on a contract basis. These workers are not entitled to traditional employee benefits like health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans, unlike regular employees. They are in charge of their own taxes, insurance, and benefits instead. This kind of employee is frequently hired for specific projects or tasks, giving businesses flexibility when they require specialized skills or resources for a brief period of time.

Discover more information about an independent contractor’s 1099 form here.

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What Types of Workers are Classified as 1099?

A wide range of workers can be classified as 1099 employees, spanning various industries and professions. These employees are typically self-employed people who work on a contract basis for one or more clients. Important examples of 1099 employees include:

  1. Freelance professionals: This includes writers, designers, photographers, and programmers who offer their services on a project-by-project basis.
  2. Consultants: Professionals who provide expert advice in areas such as business strategy, marketing, or management.
  3. Skilled tradespeople: Electricians, plumbers, and carpenters who operate their own businesses and provide services to clients.
  4. Gig economy workers: Rideshare drivers, food delivery couriers, and other on-demand service providers who work on a flexible basis.
  5. Independent sales representatives: Individuals who sell products or services on behalf of companies without being directly employed by them.

How Do You Classify a Worker as a 1099 employee?

To ensure proper classification of a worker as a 1099 employee, a business owner must take the following factors into account:

  • Control: The degree to which the employer manages the employees' schedules, tasks, and working practices. Greater independence suggests a 1099 employee.
  • Relationship: Whether or not the employee's services are a permanent, project-based component of the business operations.
  • Financial Arrangements: The payment structure (such as hourly, commission-based, or project-based), as well as whether the employee is required to provide their own tools and resources.

To ensure proper classification, it is crucial to review the rules offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and any relevant state agencies.

What are the 1099 Employee Rules?

It is essential to comprehend the laws and regulations governing independent contractors when working with 1099 employees. Key guidelines include:

  1. Classification: Make sure the employee satisfies the requirements to be considered a 1099 employee as opposed to a conventional W-2 employee. This typically entails assessing the degree of control the employer has over the employee's schedule, working conditions, and compensation.
  2. Tax Reporting: Companies are required to send 1099-misc forms, which list all payments made to contractors during the tax year, to both the IRS and the employee. Independent contractors are in charge of covering their own self-employment and income taxes.
  3. Contract Accords: Establish precise contract agreements that spell out the specifics of the working arrangement, such as the project's scope, the manner in which payments will be made, and who will own the intellectual property.

Advantages of hiring a 1099 Employee

Hiring a 1099 employee can provide numerous advantages to businesses. Some of these benefits include the following

  1. Cost Savings: One of the most significant advantages of hiring a 1099 employee is the potential for cost savings. Businesses are not responsible for providing employee benefits, payroll taxes, or workers' compensation insurance for independent contractors, which can lead to substantial financial savings.
  2. Access to Specialized Skills: Hiring a 1099 worker allows businesses to tap into specialized skills and expertise that may not be available in-house. This access to a diverse pool of talent can help drive innovation, improve efficiency, and contribute to the overall success of a project or task.
  3. Flexibility: Working with 1099 employees provides companies with increased flexibility in their workforce. They can be hired for specific projects or tasks, enabling businesses to scale up or down as needed, without the long-term commitment associated with hiring full-time employees.
  4. Reduced Administrative Burden: By hiring independent contractors, businesses can streamline their administrative processes. They are not required to manage payroll, benefits, or employee onboarding procedures for 1099 workers, which can save time and resources.
  5. Speed and Efficiency: Since 1099 employees are often experienced professionals with specialized skills, they can complete projects or tasks more efficiently than a less experienced in-house employee. This can help businesses meet deadlines and deliver results quickly.

Read more on the benefits of being an independent contractor here.

Working with a 1099 Employee: Challenges

While there are many advantages to hiring a 1099 employee, employers should be aware of any potential drawbacks as well. The following list includes some of the various challenges that businesses may experience when dealing with 1099 workers and suggestions for how to resolve them.

  1. Risk of Misclassification: A significant challenge when working with 1099 employees is the potential for misclassification. If a worker is incorrectly classified as an independent contractor rather than a traditional employee, businesses can face penalties and fines from government agencies. To avoid this, it is crucial to understand the legal distinctions between the two classifications and ensure proper classification.
  2. Worker Engagement: Maintaining worker engagement can be difficult when working with 1099 employees, as they often work remotely and are not involved in the company's day-to-day operations. Companies need to establish clear communication channels and provide opportunities for regular interaction to keep contractors engaged and committed to the project.
  3. Communication: Effective communication is essential when working with 1099 employees. However, as independent contractors often work remotely, establishing and maintaining open lines of communication can be challenging. Companies must develop strategies to ensure regular updates, feedback, and collaboration to keep projects on track and avoid misunderstandings.
  4. Tax Compliance: Since 1099 employees are responsible for their own taxes, businesses must ensure they provide accurate and timely 1099-MISC forms to both the worker and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Failure to do so can result in penalties and fines for the company.
  5. Intellectual Property and Confidentiality: Protecting intellectual property and maintaining confidentiality can be more challenging when working with these self-employed workers, as they may have multiple clients and projects simultaneously. Companies should ensure they have clear agreements in place outlining the ownership of intellectual property and the expectations around confidentiality.

1099 Employee vs. W-2 employee

It's critical to comprehend the following key distinctions between a traditional W-2 employee and a 1099 employee:

  1. Taxes: Employers withhold taxes from W-2 employees' paychecks; 1099 employees are responsible for their self-employment taxes.
  2. Benefits: Employee benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off are typically available to W-2 employees. However, 1099 workers are required to cover their own benefits.
  3. Control: W-2 employees' working conditions, hours, and methods are more in the hands of their employers, whereas 1099 workers typically have more control over how they complete their tasks.

Read more on the differences between 1099 and W-2 here.

How to File a Form 1099

Filing a 1099-MISC form for your 1099 employees is a critical step to ensure tax compliance. Follow these steps to file a 1099 form:

  1. Gather Information: Collect the necessary information from your 1099 employees, including their legal name, address, and Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number.
  2. Complete Form 1099-MISC: Fill out the 1099-MISC form with the required information, including the total amount paid to the contractor during the tax year.
  3. Send Copies: Provide Copy B of the 1099-MISC form to the 1099 employee by January 31st of the following year. File Copy A with the IRS by February 28th (if filing by paper) or by March 31st (if filing electronically).
  4. Retain Records: Keep a copy of the 1099-MISC form for your records, as well as any supporting documentation related to the payments made to the contractor.

Is There a Difference Between 1099 Employees and 1099 Independent Contractors?

The terms "1099 employee" and "1099 independent contractor" are often used interchangeably to describe the same type of worker. Both refer to self-employed individuals who provide services to clients on a contractual basis and are responsible for their own taxes. While the term "employee" may be used colloquially, these workers are not traditional employees in the legal sense, as they do not receive employee benefits and have greater autonomy in their work.

What Taxes Does a 1099 Employee Pay?

As 1099 employees are considered self-employed, they are responsible for paying their own taxes. These include:

  1. Income Tax: 1099 employees must pay taxes on their income, typically through estimated quarterly tax payments to the IRS and any relevant state tax agencies.
  2. Self-Employment Tax: This tax covers Social Security and Medicare contributions. 1099 employees must pay both the employer and employee portions of these taxes.
  3. State and Local Taxes: Depending on the worker's location, they may also be required to pay state and local income taxes or other business-related taxes.

Pay your 1099 employees seamlessly with Skuad

Form 1099 is one of the essential tax forms a US-based employer needs to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You must establish your worker status to avoid misclassification and possible regulatory penalties.

Generally, degrees and means of control determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. That's why you need to identify your worker status carefully. Skuad enables you to efficiently file and report your required tax forms (Form 1099MISC, Form 1099-NEC, Form 89819, and more).

To know more about Skuad, book a demo today.


What do I need to know before being a 1099 employee?

Before becoming a 1099 employee, it's important to understand the following:

  • You will be considered self-employed and responsible for paying your own taxes.
  • You won't have access to benefits typically provided to W-2 employees, such as health insurance or paid time off.
  • You'll need to track your income and expenses for tax purposes.
  • You may need to make estimated tax payments throughout the year.
  • You'll have more flexibility and control over your work, but also more responsibility.

Do 1099 employees pay more taxes?

1099 employees, being self-employed, are responsible for paying both the employer and employee portions of certain taxes. This can result in higher tax liability compared to W-2 employees. Additionally, 1099 employees don't have taxes withheld from their paychecks, so they need to manage their own tax payments. However, the actual tax burden will depend on various factors, such as income level, deductions, and credits.

Is it better to be 1099 or W-2?

Whether it's better to be a 1099 or W-2 employee depends on individual circumstances and preferences:

  • 1099: Being a 1099 employee offers more flexibility and control over your work, the possibility of higher earnings, and potential tax deductions for business expenses. However, you'll be responsible for managing your own taxes, won't have access to employee benefits, and may experience income volatility.
  • W-2: Being a W-2 employee provides stability, employer-provided benefits, and taxes withheld from your paycheck, which can simplify the tax process. However, you have less control over your work and potentially lower earning potential.

About the author

Catalina Wang is a Human Resource Consultant. She manages recruitment, onboarding, and contract administration staffing for many organizations and remote teams. She’s passionate about efficient HR management and the impact of tech on hiring practices.

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