[These are articles are for information purposes only and are not intended for legal or tax advice. They provide general information about 1099 and W-2 Employment classifications as they relate to different states. While efforts are made to ensure accuracy and completeness, it's critical that anyone seeking advice or up-to-date information on these topics consult their own independent tax or employment lawyer.]
Whether a dental hygienist or assistant is classified as an independent contractor or an employee depends on the level of control and independence the employer has over the worker.
Employment laws, such as minimum wage and overtime, apply to employees (W-2) but not to independent contractors (1099). Employers are also not responsible for paying unemployment taxes or providing benefits for independent contractors.
As an independent contractor (1099), a dental hygienist or assistant is responsible for paying their own self-employment taxes and for filing their own taxes. As an employee (W-2), taxes are withheld from their paycheck and the employer is responsible for paying unemployment and other taxes on behalf of the employee.
It is important to note that classification as an independent contractor or employee is determined by the IRS, not the employer or employee, and that it is important to be aware of the guidelines to ensure compliance with the laws.
A dental hygienist or assistant can check to ensure their employment relationship is compliant with Massachusetts employment and tax laws by:
Reviewing the IRS guidelines for determining worker classification. The IRS has a set of guidelines called the "20 Factors" that are used to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee.
Reviewing their employment contract and discussing the terms with their employer. The contract should clearly state whether the dental hygienist is an independent contractor or an employee.
Reviewing their pay stubs and tax forms. If the dental hygienist is an employee, taxes should be withheld from their paychecks and reported on a W-2 form. If they are an independent contractor, they should receive a 1099 form instead of a W-2.
Understanding and reviewing the benefits they are receiving, such as health insurance, vacation, sick days, and retirement benefits, which are usually provided to W-2 employees and not to 1099 independent contractors.
If they are unsure, they can consult with a lawyer or an accountant, who can advise them on the classification of their employment relationship and help ensure compliance with Massachusetts employment and tax laws.
It is important to note that while the employer is responsible for classifying an employee correctly, it is the worker's responsibility to ensure that they are complying with the laws.
If an employee is misclassified as a 1099 when they are actually working under W-2 conditions, there can be serious consequences for both the employer and the employee.
For the employer, misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can result in fines and penalties from the IRS, as well as from the state. The employer may also be liable for back taxes and for failing to provide required benefits such as workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, and overtime pay.
For the employee, being misclassified as an independent contractor can result in a loss of protections and benefits provided to employees under state and federal laws. This includes minimum wage and overtime pay, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation coverage. The employee may also be responsible for paying their own self-employment taxes.
Additionally, if the employee is misclassified as an independent contractor, they may have difficulty in seeking legal remedy and/or collecting any money they may be owed by the employer.
It is important for both employers and employees to understand the guidelines for determining worker classification and to ensure compliance with state and federal laws to avoid misclassification.
In Massachusetts and other states, employees who believe they have been misclassified can file a complaint with the state labor department, contact an attorney, or file a lawsuit.
It's important to note that employers have a legal obligation to properly classify their workers and it is illegal to misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes or providing benefits.
Whether a dental hygienist or assistant in Massachusetts should be classified as a W-2 worker or an independent contractor (1099) depends on the specific details of their job and the level of control and independence they have over their work.
Generally, if a dental hygienist or assistant is performing tasks that are integral to the employer's business, such as providing routine cleaning and preventative care services to patients, and if the employer has a degree of control over the hygienist's or assistant's work schedule, the equipment they use and the way they perform their tasks, then they would likely be classified as a W-2 employee.
If the dental hygienist or assistant is able to set their own schedule, use their own equipment, and are able to work for multiple employers, then they would likely be considered an independent contractor, and would be classified as a 1099 worker.
It's also important to note that the IRS and the state of Massachusetts have their own rules and regulations for worker classification, and that a worker's classification as a W-2 employee or 1099 contractor is determined by the specific facts and circumstances of their job and by their employer's level of control over their work.
The state of Massachusetts has its own rules and regulations for worker classification, which are similar to those of the IRS, but not identical. Like the IRS, the state of Massachusetts uses a "right-to-control" test to determine whether a worker should be classified as an employee or an independent contractor.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), a worker is considered an employee if:
- The employer has the right to control the worker's activities, including when, where, and how the work is done
- The worker is required to comply with the employer's instructions and policies
- The worker is not customarily engaged in an independent trade, occupation, profession or business
- The worker performs services that are integral to the employer's business.
On the other hand, a worker is considered an independent contractor if:
- The worker has the freedom to control the manner and means of performing the work
- The worker provides their own equipment and materials
- The worker is free to work for other clients or customers
- The worker is engaged in an independently established business
- The worker is not entitled to the same benefits and protections as an employee, such as workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, and overtime pay.
A dental hygienist or assistant might be correctly classified as a 1099 independent contractor when working a temporary shift at a dental office in Massachusetts if the following circumstances are met:
The dental office does not control how the work is performed by the hygienist or assistant.
The hygienist or assistant is free to work for other dental offices or clients.
The hygienist or assistant provides their own equipment and supplies.
The hygienist or assistant is not entitled to employee benefits, such as health insurance or paid time off.
The hygienist or assistant is paid on a per-project or per-hour basis, rather than a regular salary.
It's important to note that the classification of a worker as an independent contractor is determined by the facts and circumstances of each case and not solely by how the worker is classified by the employer. The IRS and the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance may have different standards for determining worker classification.
The fact that the hygienist or assistant might be providing work that is integral to the dental office business is an important factor to consider when determining worker classification. In general, if the work being performed by the hygienist or assistant is considered to be an essential part of the dental office's business operations, it is more likely that they will be classified as an employee rather than an independent contractor. This is because an employee typically performs work that is a necessary and regular part of the employer's business, whereas an independent contractor is usually engaged for a specific project or task.
However, it's important to note that the classification of a worker as an employee or independent contractor is determined by the facts and circumstances of each case and not solely by the nature of the work being performed.
It is also important to note that the dental office has the legal responsibility to ensure that any worker that is classified as an independent contractor meets all the criteria set by the IRS and the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance, if not then they are considered as employees and have to be treated as such.
If an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor, there can be a variety of negative consequences for both the employee and the employer. In general, the employer bears the risk if the employment is misclassified. Some of the risks that employers may face include:
Liability for unpaid taxes: If an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor, the employer may be liable for unpaid taxes, including Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes.
Liability for unpaid benefits: Employers may be liable for benefits such as workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, and vacation pay that should have been provided to the employee but were not.
Liability for discrimination and other employment law violations: Employers may be liable for discrimination and other employment law violations if the misclassification resulted in the employee not being protected under those laws.
Liability for overtime and minimum wage violations: Employers may be liable for overtime and minimum wage violations if the employee is entitled to these benefits but did not receive them because of misclassification.
Liability for penalties and fines: Employers may face penalties and fines for misclassifying employees, particularly if they do so intentionally or repeatedly.
It's worth noting that employees can also face negative consequences if they are misclassified as independent contractors, such as loss of benefits and protections, and lack of legal recourse in case of violations. Misclassification can also have negative impacts on the government, particularly if taxes and benefits aren't being paid as they should be.
Regardless of how a worker is classified, the worker can still be protected by certain state and federal laws, such as anti-discrimination laws and laws related to safety and health in the workplace. Employers should consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
It's important to note that the determination of a worker's classification as an employee or independent contractor is determined by the specific facts and circumstances of each case, and that it's the employer's responsibility to ensure compliance with Massachusetts state laws.
Side Note: Occasionally we've heard comments and opinions that, depending on the state, being classified as a 1099 Independent Contractor might put a dental hygienist's license in jeopardy if their state licensure requires their provision of care to be performed under the direction and oversight of a licensed dentist.
In short, the opinion goes something like this: "If you are a 1099 Independent Contractor, then you were self-determinant in the provision of your care and not under the direction a dentist. But your license requires you to provide care only under the direction of a licensed dentist. So your license is now at risk."
We at TempStars care very much about patient care, state regulations, doing the right thing and that dental care is only provided under valid circumstances by licensed professionals. So when we heard this, we made every effort to investigate and dig into the validity of this opinion.
Despite very extensive research and inquiry with dental professionals and dental hygiene licensing bodies, we found no evidence to support this. The hygienist licensures indicated their priority concern was whether a licensed dental hygienist was performing their duties according to their state regulations and guidelines.
But we as a team and organization are dedicated to supporting dental professionals and providing the resources needed for success - so if you or anyone you know has had their dental hygiene license disciplined or suspended solely due to the nature of an employment relationship being misclassified, we would very much like to know.
Please contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we are offering a reward to any licensed U.S. dental hygienist for the details of their story and situation so that we may help further shine light on this topic and provide the best and most accurate resources and information possible. Thank you!
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