Archive for June, 2010


Congress takes up freelance issue

By Carrie Madren

As freelance journalists we offer our services to businesses as independent contractors. Typically, we sign contracts with publications, clearly establishing the client/contractor relationship. Other publications operate on a less formal basis, and, as professionals, we know what’s expected of us. As independent contractors, we don’t expect to receive benefits such as health insurance or paid vacation. We know our tax obligations, and our clients are not responsible for deducting Social Security and income taxes. We choose to be independent for a plethora of reasons.

The Senate held a hearing last week focused on a bill that will create excessive paperwork requirements for businesses that use the services of independent contractors. The bill also will mandate inordinate penalties for failing to file the correct documents.

This bill, S.3254: Employee Misclassification Prevention Act , is intended to prevent businesses from intentionally misclassifying workers as contractors, rather than employees, for the purpose of skirting the responsibilities of an employer. However, its result will actually create an environment in which businesses will be deterred from using the services of an independent contractor, such as us.

If all publications are required to jump through the hoops of this legislation, some may be unwilling to use freelance services. Additionally, such high penalties could scare away clients — particularly those clients who are already teetering on the brink of using in-house work over freelance work.

Contact your Senators by phone, email or letter to let them know that this bill will stifle your freelance business.

Carrie Madren is an award-winning freelance journalist and storyteller based in Maryland and published in regional, national and international publications including Maryland Life magazine, E Magazine, The Ecologist, Grist.org, Mother Nature Network, Bay Weekly newspaper, Bay Journal News Service and more.

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