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Archive 2012 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them
  
 
JessicaLWalker
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p.1 #1 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Hello everyone!

I've been freelancing for a major publication for about 4 years now-pretty inconsistent and small shoots. However, they are starting to hire me more and more, and I'm getting to the point where I can quit my full time job and be a photographer full time instead, which is what I went to school for, so yay!

Anytime I have ever needed an assistant for a larger shoot they just let me use their intern, or their staff photographer assistant. I'm getting to the point where I'm going to have to find a few assistants that I can hire on my own when I need them though, because of how frequently I will be shooting.

My question is: how do you find assistants? I can contact my school and see if there are any recent graduates in need of work, but what are my other options...besides Craigslist? Also, will the assistant be billing me, or the publication? If they are invoicing me, how do I handle taxes if I'm paying them more than $600? Will I need to have them fill out a W-4 and send them a 1099 next year, and subsequent years?

Thank you for any and all help!



Feb 22, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Skarkowtsky
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p.1 #2 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Include your assistant's day rate in your estimate to your client, in a breakdown of expenses. Then, have your assistant invoice you for payment, cut them a check. It's up to them, as freelancers, to file their income. This is how I've always billed and have been billed, as an assistant.

Check out aphotoassistant.com and 1prophoto.com for pretty large directories.




Feb 22, 2012 at 07:14 PM
moanakula
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p.1 #3 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


I was thinking about billing an assistant as well and have them file their own taxes as an independant contractor. Makes the paper work much easier as long as you keep the receipts for write offs.


Feb 22, 2012 at 08:26 PM
borderlight
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p.1 #4 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Here's one place for LA:

http://www.stockphotocrew.com/losangeles/assistants/losangelesphotoassistant1.htm



Feb 22, 2012 at 08:59 PM
RJKphoto
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p.1 #5 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Here's what the IRS thinks about calling assistants "sub-contactors" It's a very tangled issue.

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html



Feb 23, 2012 at 03:59 PM
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p.1 #6 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


It's really not a "tangled issue" for the seasoned freelance assistant. When the photographer or studio hires help for a shoot of course they are going to control what they were hired for.... one of the IRS vague qualifiers. I wouldn't let the IRS bold type and multiple choices throw you off, at least when it comes to the photo business. Simply put, is the assistant hired full-time, part-time, or just occasional help? Is that person on the payroll? If not, a freelance assistant pays his own taxes. The hiring photographer or studio deducts an assistant's fee as a business expense, and assistant lists his fee as income. A freelance assistant bills the hiring photographer or studio directly unless some other form of agreement is reached. All this is common knowledge in the trade.


Feb 23, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Skarkowtsky
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p.1 #7 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Precisely, Border.


Feb 23, 2012 at 08:48 PM
RJKphoto
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p.1 #8 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


You are both incorrect, as usual. After an audit a couple years ago, the truth of what the IRS webpage is saying was brought home quite painfully! If they work under your direction, they are employees. Period.


Feb 23, 2012 at 09:48 PM
borderlight
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p.1 #9 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Well, with no details to what was "painful" you can state anything. I guess Skarkowtsky, me, and hundereds of thousands of photographers, assistants, studios, my Master of Taxation Accountant, all accountants, and the IRS who must have been hoodwinked by all of us for tens of decades (cause they never said a thing) are all wrong. So either you did something wrong with your taxes, the IRS was on your case anyway, or you're just an argumentative person "as usual".


Feb 23, 2012 at 10:03 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



RJKphoto
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p.1 #10 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


I didn't do anything wrong with my taxes, I was just misinformed, just as you are.

You two are the argumentative people. I just told you what happened to me. When your day comes, you'll see too.



Feb 23, 2012 at 10:19 PM
borderlight
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p.1 #11 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Amateur.


Feb 23, 2012 at 11:44 PM
John Patrick
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p.1 #12 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Here's 160 pages of light reading:

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/emporind.pdf

Informative.

John



Feb 24, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Skarkowtsky
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p.1 #13 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Way to lump me in, RJ. However, you're a fool, 'as usual'. Please save the bandwidth for us by submitting your posts in handwritten, hand bound signatures.

Thanks!



Feb 24, 2012 at 02:43 AM
John Patrick
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p.1 #14 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


RJK, is this you?

http://www.rjkphoto.com

John



Feb 24, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Taoguy
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p.1 #15 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Quick background - I've spent 30 years on both sides of this issue. What raises the red flag as to why the IRS determines the individual/contractor was an employee? Many things, 1. Are these hourly employed vs being paid a set figure. 2. If they are indeed sub-contractors they will have to provide you with proof of insurance, i.e. Certificate of Insurance. Otherwise the IRS can/will make the determination that the employer, (you) were just trying to avoid the responsibility of your share of FICA etc. A sub hired need to provide CI. to whomever hires them.

If you hire students for your assistants they will almost always be considered employees not sub-contractors.

You still must send them a 1099 or the agency whom hired you. Our firm rec. more 1099's this past year than ever in the past, $$ needed in Washington. I suspect they will get more aggressive in the future regarding all of this as there is lost revenue not being put to use.

Because you might have been doing it wrong and not been visited means nothing. You may go on for 30 yrs without a hitch. I have seen both, it's not worth the cost, especially if there is an accident on sight, and your sub has no insurance, then it gets really interesting. I have seen a labor dispute where the questionable sub takes the hiring individual to court for breach of contract. After it was settled the state steps in as well as the federal friends and guess what happened to the company hiring the sub(employee). Really cuts into the margin when you add up the penalties and fines.

Cheers
Gerard



Feb 27, 2012 at 01:42 AM
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p.1 #16 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Right. Most photographers or studios should know the difference. In a perfect world clients won't hire you as a contractor without proof of insurance. As a sub-contractor it is the responsibility of the photographer or studio to ask for proof of liability insurance, or sign a contract that would exclude the studio or photographer from any legal responsibilities that you may incur during the assignment. Everyone should know the difference between an employee and a non-employee. If you don't know you will enter into one of those "grey areas" the link below talks about. If you have a equipment policy, it's a good idea to get liability insurance too. IRS rules and regulations can change, especially when the country is 14 trillion in debt.


http://photographerstoolkit.com/uploads/Independent_Contractor_v_Employee.pdf

Note: If you are running a business and are not using a good accountant it's a good idea to get one. Doing your own taxes is a quicker way to an audit. You are more likely to be flagged for other stuff that you generously allow yourself, or don't report than the fine points of hiring an assistant on a job to job basis. An accountant should know the IRS rules concerning this matter.



Feb 27, 2012 at 02:29 PM
rcm123
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p.1 #17 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


Determining whether an individual performing services for hire is an independent contractor or an employee is a very complex problem. There are actually multiple state and federal agencies that could have jurisdiction to enforce regulations and laws if an individual is an employee as opposed to an independent contractor (the IRS, state and federal wage and hour enforcement agencies, state workers comp and unemployment comp agencies and civil rights agencies). Also, there are numerous different tests that can be used to determine whether an individual performing services for hire is an independent contractor or an employee depending upon 1) the state you are located in and 2) the agency that you are dealing with. While a carefully prepared written agreement can be very beneficial, it is almost universally accepted by the state and federal courts that the wording of a contract (i.e., labeling an individual an "independent contractor") is not determinative as to whether an individual is an independent contractor. Rather, the courts look to a number of factors (in NJ, a 12 factor test is applied) to determine the degree to which the "employer" controls the manner and means of the hired individual's work. The greater the degree of control, the greater the likelihood that an individual will be found to be an employee.


Mar 17, 2012 at 02:10 AM
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p.1 #18 · hiring an assistant and pay/taxes for them


I think we've micromanaged this question to death. With all that has been said relating to the complexity of the issue it might be best not to hire an assistant. It's just too dangerous unless you hire a tax attorney, bring on board a CPA with a MT, consult with the former head of the IRS, become personal friends with a state law maker, be able to memorize your federal, state, and local laws pertaining to hiring an assistant photographer. It would also be a plus if you are related to your local city council chairperson..... and maybe the sheriff too. Those lawmakers, any one of them, are just waiting to pick on the small-fry freelancer, sans studio, and fine, imprison, and make his life miserable.


Mar 17, 2012 at 05:05 PM





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