The IRS Office of Chief Counsel recently released a memo from April 14, 2016, regarding the tax treatment of benefits an employee receives through an employer wellness program. Specifically, the Chief Counsel determined that cash benefits paid as a reward for or reimbursements of premiums paid related to participating in such a program may not be excluded from the employee's gross income. Health screenings and medical care provided under the wellness program are excludable.
Entrepreneurs who participate in the "Sharing Economy" may be granted a new worker status as the traditional classifications of employee and independent contractor no longer fit this modern group of workers. Also known as the Gig Economy or the On-Demand Economy, workers in this sector have more independence from the control of their employer than a traditional employee, but they also do not maintain all of the characteristics of independent contractors who do not enjoy the protections of labor laws.
This is a question that many business owners have, and finding the correct answer is extremely important. At the Law Office of Williams & Associates, P.C. we help business owners answer this question and many others so that they are in compliance with state and federal employment tax laws.
On June 3, 2015, the California Labor Commissioner found an Uber driver to be an employee, and thus eligible for reimbursement for mileage and other expenses while providing rides for the tech company, which claims to be engaged in the business of providing lead generation to transportation providers using its mobile application. (Berwick v. Uber Technologies, Inc., Labor Commissioner Case No.: 11-46739 EK http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/04954780-Page0-20.pdf) Uber Technologies Inc. is appealing the decision in the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco. This case coincides with recent federal court wage and hour claims, in which Uber and a similar provider, Lyft, are defending claims that the transportation providers are employees and misclassified as independent contractors. (O'Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc., No. 3:13-cv-03826-EMC (N.D. Cal. Mar. 11, 2015); Cotter v. Lyft, Inc., No. 3:13-cv-04065-VC (N.D. Cal. Mar. 11, 2015))
The California Employment Development Department (EDD) thinks so. Following a recent precedent Tax Decision from the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB), the EDD is enforcing a new worker misclassification policy that affects franchisors and franchisees with businesses in California.