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Independent Contracting and How it’s Changing the Employment Landscape

Last updated 03/21/2024 by

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The article provides information about independent contractors, including their definitions, how they pay taxes, and examples of independent contractor jobs. Individuals or enterprises that enter into contractual arrangements with third parties in order to deliver goods or services to those parties are known as independent contractors. They work independently and have control over their work methods. Unlike employees, independent contractors are responsible for their own taxes and must make quarterly tax payments. They can reduce their taxable income through permitted business deductions and are responsible for their retirement and insurance plans.

Definition of independent contractor

A person or company that provides goods or services to another party under the terms of a contract is known as an independent contractor.
Unlike employees, independent contractors operate independently and maintain control over how the work is performed.
They are responsible for their own taxes, insurance, retirement plans, and other aspects of their business operations.
Independent contractors are typically engaged on a project-by-project basis and are not considered employees of the contracting party.

Understanding independent contractor concept

Imagine you have a special talent or skill, like drawing or playing the piano. Now, let’s say someone asks you to draw a picture for them or play the piano at a party.
Instead of working for a company or being a regular employee, you decide to do this job on your own.
You set your own schedule, decide how much to charge, and do the work in your own way.
You have the freedom to choose the jobs that are best for you and how you want to do them. It’s like being your own boss and having more control over your work.

Paying taxes as an independent contractor

Paying taxes as an independent contractor is important to make sure you fulfill your responsibilities as a taxpayer. Here are some key steps to help you understand how to pay taxes:
  1. Keep track of your income: As an independent contractor, you’ll receive payments directly from your clients or customers. It’s essential to keep a record of all the money you earn from your work.
  2. Understand self-employment tax:When it comes to Social Security and Medicare, independent contractors must cover both employee and employer contributions. Income tax for those who are self-employed. It’s used for things like healthcare and retirement benefits.
  3. Calculate estimated taxes: Since taxes aren’t automatically deducted from your income like they are for employees, you’ll need to estimate your tax liability and make quarterly tax payments. This involves calculating your expected income and determining the amount you owe in taxes.
  4. Fill out form w-9: When you start working with a new client, they may ask you to complete a Form W-9. This form provides your taxpayer identification number and other relevant details for tax reporting purposes.
  5. Keep track of expenses: As an independent contractor, you can deduct certain business-related expenses to reduce your taxable income. These expenses might include supplies, equipment, travel costs, or home office expenses. Make sure to keep proper records and receipts for all your business-related expenses.
  6. File your tax return: At the end of the tax year, you’ll need to file your tax return. You’ll report your income and claim any deductions or credits you’re eligible for. The specific tax forms you need to use will depend on your situation, but commonly used forms include Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business) and Schedule SE (Self-Employment Tax).
  7. Consider consulting a tax professional: For those who are self-employed, the tax code can be exceptionally convoluted. A tax expert can help you navigate the tax system and make sure you’re filing correctly and paying the right amount of money in taxes if you’re feeling lost. Remember, paying taxes is an important responsibility, and it’s essential to stay informed and organized to fulfill your tax obligations as an independent contractor.

Advantages and disadvantages an independent contractor

Being an independent contractor, like any other work arrangement, has its pros and cons. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of being an independent contractor:


  • Flexibility: Freelancers get more freedom in terms of how their done will be done. This leeway makes it possible to better combine work and personal life, as well as to pursue hobbies and side projects.
  • Variety of work: Independent contractors often decide to work on any project with different clients. This can provide a more diverse and stimulating work experience compared to a traditional job.
  • Higher earning potential: Freelancers can theoretically make more money than employees. They have the freedom to charge what they feel is fair for their services and to negotiate their own contracts.
  • Tax benefits: Independent contractors can take advantage of certain tax deductions that are not available to regular employees. Business-related expenses such as equipment, supplies, and home office costs can be deducted, potentially lowering their taxable income.
  • Independence: As the name suggests, independent contractors enjoy a greater sense of independence. They are their own boss and have the freedom to make decisions regarding their work without having to answer to a supervisor or adhere to company policies.


  • Uncertain income: Unlike regular employees who receive a steady paycheck, independent contractors often face income fluctuations. They must seek out and get new clients on their own, which might leave them vulnerable financially if the business is limited.
  • No employee benefits: Employee benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and vacation pay, are not available to independent contractors. They are on their own to deal with these details, which can mount up in cost and effort.
  • Self-employment taxes: Independent contractors must pay both employee and employer Social Security and Medicare taxes because they are self-employed. Thus, they may owe more taxes than their coworkers.
  • Limited job security: Independent contractors don’t have the same level of job security as employees. They rely on securing contracts and projects to sustain their income. If they’re unable to find new clients or projects, they may experience periods of unemployment.
  • Increased administrative responsibilities: Independent contractors have additional administrative tasks compared to regular employees. They are responsible for managing their own finances, tracking expenses, invoicing clients, and handling tax obligations. This can require extra time and effort.

Example of an independent contractor

An example of an independent contractor could be a freelance graphic designer.
They have specialized skills in creating visual designs and work on a project basis for various clients.
Instead of being employed by a specific company, they offer their services independently to businesses or individuals who need design work.
The graphic designer sets their own rates, negotiates contracts with clients, and determines their own work schedule.
They may work from their own home or studio, using their own equipment and software.
As independent contractor, they have the flexibility to take on multiple clients simultaneously and work on different design projects, such as creating logos, designing marketing materials, or developing website layouts.


In conclusion, the article provides a comprehensive overview of independent contractors, covering their definition, tax obligations, and examples of independent contractor jobs. It emphasizes that independent contractors work independently and have control over their work methods, distinguishing them from employees. The article highlights the importance of understanding how to pay taxes as an independent contractor, including keeping track of income, calculating estimated taxes, and filing tax returns.
The example of a freelance graphic designer illustrates the nature of independent contractor work. Overall, the article offers valuable insights into the world of independent contracting, helping readers understand the responsibilities and considerations involved in this type of work arrangement.

Key takeaways

  • Independent contractors are not classified as employees and, as a result, do not receive employee benefits.
  • Instead of having taxes withheld from their paychecks, they are required to make advance payments for anticipated income taxes through quarterly installments.
  • Through the use of allowed business deductions, independent contractors have the ability to decrease their overall income, thus reducing their taxable income.
  • These contractors are accountable for establishing their own retirement and insurance plans.
  • Overall, independent contractors are part of a relatively expansive category.

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