What is a 1099 Contractor? Meaning, Explanation, 24 Facts

1099 contractors constitute a significant portion of the modern workforce. They provide something that regular corporations and workers cannot, from the gig economy to specialized services.

However, both businesses and individuals should be aware of the unique restrictions governing 1099 contractors.

This page explains all you need to know about 1099 contracting, including how to become a contractor and other considerations:

What is a 1099 Contractor?

A 1099 contractor is an independent worker, as opposed to an employee working for an employer. There are substantial legal distinctions between contractors and employees. Even though the activity is of a similar kind, it is vital to adhere to the legislation regarding taxes, payments, and the like.

How to Become a 1099 Contractor

The procedure for becoming a 1099 contractor is rather simple. However, they differ significantly from traditional employment in ways that extend beyond the absence of job benefits. When starting in a new legal effort, you should always conduct thorough research.

What is a 1099 Contractor?

Here are the three stages to become a 1099 contractor:

Step 1. Choose a Business Name and Structure

Prior to deciding on a business name, refrain from purchasing business cards and stationery. Ensure that no other company is utilizing your name before proceeding.

If your business name is distinct from your company’s name, you may be required to file a tradename or “doing business as” form with your state.

You must also register your company with the state. The following are typical 1099 contractor business structures:

Single-ownerships Partnerships Limited liability corporations (LLCs)

Once you have a business name and the necessary credentials, you may get a business space and begin developing marketing and promotion materials, such as a website, business cards, and promotional brochures.

You may use a business plan to develop your strategy and, if necessary, acquire capital investment.

Step 2. Open a checking account for your business.

Obtaining a business checking account will demonstrate to the IRS that you and your firm are separate entities. Once you’ve established a company checking account, you may deposit cash as an investment and begin paying for all startup expenses. In addition to applying for credit, you may utilize a business checking account for other purposes.

Obviously, you may fund your business bank account to pay initial expenses if you have incoming funds. To prevent interweaving payments and revenue, it is advisable to utilize a company account rather than a personal one.

It is impossible to predict what problems may develop in the future, therefore it is best to keep matters distinct.

Step 3. Create an easy-to-use business record-keeping system.

Gather the information you’ll need to prove your right to take legitimate business deductions. Keeping track of your business income and expenses will help you understand how well your company is performing, and you will be able to deduct those expenses from your income at tax time.

What is a 1099 Contractor?

Make a simple budget to see how much money you’ll need to get started. Then, you can tell how your business is doing by reviewing and preparing your business financial statements each month, including a profit and loss statement and a balance sheet.

Monitoring your financial performance routinely can result in greater profitability and fewer errors.

Step 4. Create Your Independent Contractor Agreements

A contract with independent contractors is essential for managing your company interactions. Consult with contract or labor attorneys for assistance in drafting the appropriate agreements. In addition, they may help you establish a sole proprietorship or an LLC and manage state-specific restrictions, such as those governing California independent contractors.

1099 Contractors vs. Employees

Control is the most distinguishing characteristic between independent contractors and employees. The individual is presumably an employee if the employer determines all conditions and does so consistently throughout time.

In addition to receiving a regular paycheck, employee benefits, and having taxes taken from their pay, employees are subject to the employer’s control over their work hours and schedule.

In general, full-time employees receive additional benefits, such as severance money, workers’ compensation, and rights against discrimination. Employees must withhold payroll taxes from their salaries.

Independent contractors are antithetical to employees. They are more likely to get compensated for their labor, to pay their own taxes, and to work whenever and wherever they choose. They must pay self-employment tax since the IRS considers them to be self-employed.

Do 1099 Contractors Pay Taxes?

1099 contractors do pay taxes. At least $400 in earnings are subject to self-employment tax. A legal or tax expert can help you learn more about how 1099 contractors pay taxes based on your unique circumstances.

Examples of Independent Contractors

The procedure for becoming a 1099 contractor is rather simple. However, they differ significantly from traditional employment in ways that extend beyond the absence of job benefits. When starting in a new legal effort, you should always conduct thorough research.

Here are the three stages to become a 1099 contractor:


This example features a 1099 independent contractor who provides internet services to businesses.

  • Jennifer composes website material.
    She assists businesses in composing content for their websites and social media platforms.
    Additionally, she offers ongoing SEO services.
  • Jennifer is an independent businesswoman.
  • There is no distinct legal entity established in her name.
  • Instead, she pays all income taxes and negotiates contracts with customers.
  • Jennifer doesn’t enjoy special tax benefits
  • Jennifer continues to operate as a 1099 independent contractor appropriately.

Lawn Care Companies

This is an example of a 1099 independent contractor lawn care firm that provides services to local businesses.

Lawn & Order is a lawn service.

Two brothers who share an interest in grass and trees founded the business.

Each desires to keep independent contractor status.

However, they also desire to become authentic partners.

The brothers decide to start a firm and provide independent contractor services to local companies.

Lawn & Order utilizes service contracts to manage customer interactions.

The brothers divide their earnings and obligations evenly.

What is a 1099 Contractor?

Logo Design

This example features an internet logo designer who provides services as a 1099 independent contractor.

  • Chester is a designer of logos.
  • Chester, who formerly worked for a firm and is now self-employed, organizes an LLC to
  • Minimize personal tax payments.
  • Chester pays taxes in accordance with IRS LLC regulations.

Regardless of the structure of your business, you may qualify as a freelancer. You may be deemed an independent contractor if you operate as a sole proprietor, create a limited liability company, or incorporate. You may become an independent contractor so long as you are not classified as an employee.

If you have doubts regarding your status as a 1099 contractor, you should always consult with contract attorneys. From business creation to proper contracts, they can advise you through all legal matters. Your legal staff will also secure the long-term viability of your business.

What Is the Difference Between 1099 and W-2?

Forms 1099 and W-2 are two distinct tax forms for two distinct categories of employees. Independent contractors utilize Form 1099, whereas employees utilize Form W-2.

Employers deduct and remit all payroll taxes from W-2 workers’ paychecks. Contractors are responsible for paying their own payroll taxes and submitting quarterly reports to the government.

W-2 roles instruct workers on how, when, and where to perform their duties. A 1099 will be issued to workers who complete assignments or finish particular projects. An independent contractor is not reliant on an employer for support.

Independent contractors are typically referred to as consultants, entrepreneurs, company owners, freelancers, or self-employed people. At any given moment, they work for a variety of clients and are not employed by a single organization.

To evaluate whether a person is an independent contractor or an employee, the IRS has defined specific criteria. The independent contractor is viewed as a distinct enterprise and is not regarded as an employee.

If a person’s labor is deemed indispensable to a corporation, that individual will likely be an employee. Temporary or non-critical work might indicate contractor status.

How to Determine the Correct Job Status

An independent contractor may:

Make and adhere to their own timetable.

Create a specific process for completing tasks.

As required or on a case-by-case basis, accept tasks.

The contractor may reject proposals if they so want

Will bring their own equipment and tools.

Will have several clients simultaneously.

Can be terminated at any moment and may decide not to report to work.

Possibility of determining if the employment is permanent or temporary.

Profit or lose from a certain endeavor.

What is a 1099 Contractor?

Be compensated per project.Must purchase all necessary equipment.Must pay for all necessary business and travel expenses.Employ and pay helpers.

An employee may:

Have a fixed timetable with designated hours.

The firm will provide training.

Be furnished with the necessary equipment to do the task.

Employer-assigned tasks must be completed in full.

Employer exclusivity

The type of employment connection is determined by the answers to the following questions:

Who is responsible for the degree of control over the work?

How much will each side lose?

Who pays for the necessary supplies and materials?

Is the employee an indispensable component of the business?

What is the degree of permanency, if any?

Is a Contractor Required to Pay Income Taxes on Income?

An independent contractor is required to pay income tax, just like any other worker. Social Security and Medicare taxes are not deducted from the earnings of independent contractors.

Additionally, independent contractors cannot wait until April 15 to pay all taxes for the prior year. Instead, independent contractors must pay estimated taxes quarterly. However, contractors have access to a number of advantageous tax deductions.

How Much Should Contractors Charge for Their Services?

Each independent contractor may determine a sum sufficient to cover all of his or her expenditures. The amount must also account for the contractor’s labor and competence, as well as give a profit.

However, it is essential that the contractor does not charge more than the going market cost for a certain task.

How Can Contractors Ensure They Will Be Paid?

While doing the task is vitally necessary, payment to the contractor is likewise crucial. If a customer refuses to pay after receiving an invoice, the contractor might seek payment through legal means.

Are Written Agreements Necessary?

Before executing any service for a customer or company, it is preferable to utilize a written contract. This will aid in the avoidance of conflicts by providing a detailed description of the services to be provided.

This agreement must specify the duties that the contractor will do. In addition, the contract will specify the duties to be accomplished and the contractor’s compensation.

A contractor agreement can also serve as evidence that the individual is indeed an independent contractor and not an employee. It also demonstrates to the IRS that the contractor and the hiring company are beginning a relationship as independent contractors.

What is a 1099 Contractor?

Who Makes Decisions on Classification?

The employer will establish the employee’s classification inside the organization. The worker is either an independent contractor or an employee.

If it comes up for review, the IRS and other government authorities will make the final determination. When determining whether you are an employee or independent contractor, the IRS will consider a number of variables.

Advantages to Self-Employment

There are several benefits of self-employment:

  • You work for yourself.
  • You may receive a higher salary than ordinary employees.
  • There will be no federal or state tax taken from your paycheck.
  • There are several tax deductions available for businesses.

Disadvantages of Self-Employment

Additionally, there are downsides to self-employment:

  • You may not have employment stability.
  • The chance of not being paid exists.
  • You must pay your own taxes for self-employment.
  • You are individually responsible for the entirety of the business’s debt.
  • You will no longer get perks from your job.
  • You don’t obtain unemployment insurance benefits.
  • There is no workers’ compensation coverage for you.
  • Labor laws will provide you with minimal safeguards.

Employer Tax Liability

The employee’s employment status determines the employer’s tax liability. When an individual is an employee, state and federal unemployment taxes must be paid. A state insurance fund is also entitled to Social Security tax, workers’ compensation premium, and disability premiums from the employee.

The hiring company is exempt from making these payments if the worker is an independent contractor.

Employers might be held accountable for any delinquent taxes, such as federal unemployment tax and FICA, if they incorrectly classify their employees.

Supreme Court Decisions Relating to Independent Contractor Status

The Supreme Court has rendered rulings on the classification of an independent contractor, including:

  • How crucial the provided services are to the firm.
  • The duration of the professional relationship.
  • The amount of the contractor’s equipment and material expenditures.
  • Profit and loss potential for contractors.
  • The contractor’s degree of independence from the company organization.

How Do You Fill out a 1099-MISC Form for an Independent Contractor?

Form 1099-MISC is accessible on the IRS website for everyone who require it. 11 There are 17 fields to complete on the form, and you must also enter the payee’s name, address, tax identification number for both the payee and beneficiary, and the recipient’s name. The IRS also gives detailed instructions on how to complete the form.

How Do You Pay an Independent Contractor?

You pay an independent contractor similarly to how you would pay any other freelancer: by the hour, by the project, or for a fixed fee. You may pay a freelancer by cheque, Venmo, PayPal, or cash.

How Does the IRS Decide a Worker’s Status?

There are three general criteria set up by the IRS. They are:

  • Behavioral control
  • Financial control
  • Relationship type

Behavioral control. An employer instructs and directs the work, including the number of hours worked, the tools used, the tasks to be performed, and the manner in which they are to be completed. Consequently, the individual is an employee. An independent contractor is a worker who sets his or her own hours and works without direction or instruction.

Financial control. This decides how the employee is compensated. It also involves whether or not the worker can work for other individuals concurrently and whether or not the worker can incur a loss or profit.

Type of relationship. If there is a contract between the parties, it may suggest that one of them is an independent contractor. However, workers eligible to benefits are often considered employees.

Two Restrictive Covenants to Consider When Hiring an Independent Contractor

A non-solicitation clause prohibits the employee from soliciting your clients or employees. In addition, a non-disclosure agreement prevents the employee from revealing any trade secrets or confidential information of current or past employers.

Check Credentials Before Hiring an Independent Contractor

Reviewing a person’s commercial, financial, and criminal histories requires a background check. According to surveys, up to 70 percent of businesses will need a background check before hiring a candidate.

However, an employer is prohibited from using any background information obtained through a background check to discriminate against any individual. Employers are required to seek a background check for all applicants. Inaction can be discriminating. For instance, it would be illegal to verify the criminal histories of all male candidates but not female ones.

The company is able to do a background check to determine whether or not the employee has graduated from college. This will also assist in validating any employment history supplied on a job application. Background checks can also safeguard the employer from any liability difficulties.

Paying an Independent Contractor

It is really simple to pay an independent contractor. The payment method should be specified in the independent contractor contract.


Some independent contractors elect to be paid hourly. This can include folks who program computers.

by the task.

Contractors may also be compensated per project. The contractor will be paid a predetermined amount per performed assignment.

Although a verbal contract is lawful, it is usually preferable to have all terms in writing. This will avoid any confusion between the two parties.

The contract should include the frequency of payment, whether or not there are payment milestones, and all deadlines for the task.

Once the work is completed and a deadline is fulfilled, the contractor is to be paid. Regarding payment to the contractor, the hiring party may have several concerns, including:

  • What happens if the task is not finished within the specified time frame?
  • What happens if payments cannot be made on time?
  • What if the job is of poor quality?

All of these provisions are as essential as any other part of a contract and must be decided before work commences. There will be no federal or state income tax taken from an independent contractor’s paycheck.

IRS Backup Withholding Notice

Non-employees, such as independent contractors, are obliged to have a backup withholding. Employers may not withhold income taxes from independent contractors unless the contractor’s taxpayer identification number cannot be confirmed.

You can post your legal requirement on UpCounsel’s marketplace if you want assistance with 1099 contractors. UpCounsel only admits the top 5% of attorneys on its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel include graduates of Harvard Law and Yale Law and have an average of 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of firms like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

Is an Independent Contractor Self Employed?

Remember that a non-employee independent contractor might be an individual or another business organization. However, a corporation that provides services and is compensated as an independent contractor is not necessarily deemed self-employed in the conventional sense.

What is a 1099 Contractor?

Self-employed often refers to an individual who owns their own firm or operates as a solo proprietor. Think about physicians, attorneys, insurance salespeople, and other professionals who are recruited to execute certain duties based on the nature of their own competence.

It’s worth noting that many of these individuals may have developed a formal corporate structure, even though they operate for themselves individually. If you are self-employed and wish to pay less tax, you must learn how to arrange your business’s property.

Moreover, as previously stated, the term “independent contractor” applies solely to services rendered in a professional environment (such as marketing, consulting, or even cleaning an office). This excludes personal services supplied by a self-employed individual, such as by a doctor or an accountant giving personal accounting services.

It is also crucial to emphasize that a contract worker or gig worker is actively employed; yet, because they are not required to report to a workplace as part of an employee-employer relationship, there may be periods when they are not working.

Independent contractors that are gainfully employed frequently promote their businesses and seek for new clients during their leisure. Independent contractors cannot often claim unemployment insurance, as this benefit is typically allocated for workers who lose their jobs.

In some cases, though (such as the present COVID epidemic and its economic repercussions), a self-employed person may be eligible for unemployment insurance if they are underemployed as a result of the economic crisis affecting their clientele.


A 1099 contractor, also known as an independent contractor, is a self-employed individual who requires a corporation to issue a Form 1099-MISC. They are contracted with a corporation as a non-employee, which is distinct from how workers are treated.

Throughout the duration of the project, 1099 contractors must be free from managerial direction and control. They must also have complete control over their work schedule and location. Employer law challenges may be brought against companies that breach these rights.


A 1099 worker is one that is not considered an “employee.” Rather, this type of worker is usually referred to as a freelancer, independent contractor or other self-employed worker that completes particular jobs or assignments. Since they’re not deemed employees, you don’t pay them wages or a salary.
1099 contractors have a lot more freedom than their W2 peers, and thanks to a 2017 corporate tax bill, they are allowed significant additional tax deductions from what is called a 20% pass-through deduction. However, they often receive fewer benefits and have far more tenuous employment status with their organization.

The IRS taxes 1099 contractors as self-employed. And, if you made more than $400, you need to pay self-employment tax. Self-employment taxes include Medicare and Social Security taxes, and they total 15.3% of the net profit on your earnings as a contractor (not your total taxable income).
As an independent contractor, you’ll usually make more money than if you were an employee. Companies are willing to pay more for independent contractors because they don’t have the enter into expensive, long-term commitments or pay health benefits, unemployment compensation, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes.


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