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How to file taxes as a dental temp

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Taxes can be, well, taxing – especially when you’re temping. For RDHs and DAs who temp, whether you make it a full-time career or are just picking up a few shifts here and there, navigating tax season can be difficult. Are temps employees or contractors? And should you receive a 1099 or a W-2 form? 

Let’s break down the basics:

The IRS has pretty rigid guidelines concerning who can be classified as an independent contractor and receive a 1099. Because most states require a hygienist to be supervised by a dentist in order to practice, the IRS considers this an employee/employer relationship, regardless of the duration of your work – it could be long-term or a single shift. 

The nature of your position in healthcare, including the behavioral control that the dentist you are working under exhibits, means that you are an employee of the office you fill in for; the IRS clarifies that controlling how, when, or where you do the work, as well as what tools or equipment to use, automatically puts someone within the legal definition of an employee. So, by being paid as an independent contractor and receiving a 1099, you could actually be putting your license at risk.

Keep this in mind: reject any 1099 offers and request payroll and get that W-2. And if you find it difficult to remember which to choose, remember that you will not be bringing your own schedule, patients, or instruments; therefore, you are not an independent contractor.

Here’s how it works:

After accepting a shift, and before filling in, request to be an employee or “W-2.” Then, be prepared to fill out the dental practice’s new employee packet, which will include a W-4 (so the employer can withhold the correct federal income taxes from your pay) and an I-9 (to verify your identity as a U.S citizen or to confirm it is legal for you to work in the U.S). Fill these forms out ahead of time on the IRS website; otherwise, leave yourself enough time to complete these documents at the practice while you’re there to submit to their payroll department. Payment will be processed through whichever source and schedule the practice prefers; be sure to ask about this upfront, so that you know when to expect your paycheck.

Remember this checklist:

  • Current RDH license
  • Valid driver’s license, state ID, military ID, school ID, or voter’s registration card
  • Social security card or birth certificate 
  • Current professional liability insurance proof (check state requirements)
  • Current CPR card
  • N20 certificate (if applicable)
  • Local anesthetic certificate (if applicable)
  • Hep B vaccinations (if applicable)
  • If not a US citizen: See List A for requirements on I-9 form

Pro tip: Keep copies of these documents on your phone, or save them on your Biteline profile, for ease of access.

So, now that you know your stuff when it comes to temping and taxes, make sure to be prepared and have these conversations before agreeing to fill in at an office; it will keep things running smoothly for practices, patients, and, of course, you.

Note: If you have already received a 1099, you have the option to report the money you earned and pay the entire tax burden (15%). We suggest these options: call the doctor or office and ask them to resend you a W-2, or fill out an SS8 form stating you were misclassified.

Read more fun facts, expert advice, and dental industry news on the Biteline blog.
And don’t forget to share with your dental friends!

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How to file taxes as a dental temp

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