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1099 vs. W-2: Temping and Taxes in the Dental Industry

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For years, the dental industry has been debating how hygienists and assistants that temp should be paid. We’re here to answer this question once and for all.

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For years, the dental industry has been debating how hygienists and assistants that temp should be paid. Since the temps are not technically “employees” of the dental office, should they receive a 1099 or a W-2 form? We’re here to break down the basics and answer this age-old question once and for all.

The IRS Makes the Rules

To settle this debate, it’s time to bring in the big guys (AKA the IRS). The IRS recently published strict guidelines as to who can be classified as an independent contractor and receive a 1099. Most states require a hygienist to be supervised by a dentist in order to practice. This creates an employee/employer relationship whether or not that relationship is long-term or simply for one day. By being paid as an independent contractor, you actually could be putting your license at risk.  

Temps Are Employees Too

So, what makes someone an employee anyways? When you temp, you are an employee because of the nature of your work and behavioral control that the dentist you are working under exhibits. The IRS says that controlling how, when, or where to do the work, as well as what tools or equipment to use automatically puts someone within the legal definition of an employee. This means that even temporary fill-ins are considered employees and therefore cannot receive a 1099. 

“I Was Misclassified…Now What?”

If you already received a 1099, you have the option to report the money you earned and pay the entire tax burden (15%). This may not be substantial on one day of work, but it becomes a significant amount of money if you temp often. Luckily, there are two better options to consider: you can call the doctor or office and ask them to resend you a W-2, or you can fill out an SS8 form stating you were misclassified.  

Now that you know how dental temps should be paid, it is important to have these conversations before agreeing to fill-in at an office. This will help avoid the awkwardness and frustration that comes with being misclassified. Temps are employees too, after all.

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