Independent Contractor vs Employee: The Tax Question

Should you hire an Independent Contractor or Employee?  One is not an alternative to the other by the standards laid out by the revenue department. It is therefore crucial that business owners correctly determine whether an individual providing services is an independent contractor or an employee. The general rule is that someone is an independent contractor if the person providing compensation has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done. If however, the person paying has the right to not only control or direct the result of the work, but also what will be done and how it will be done, then the person supplying the service is an employee.

Tax Jamaica

If the supplier of the service is an employee then the businessperson has the statutory obligation to withhold income tax in the form of PAYEE, National Insurance (NI), Education Tax (Ed Tax) and National Housing Trust (NHT) contributions at the appropriate rates, and pay over the deductions withheld, along with the matching amounts for NI, Ed Tax, NHT and the appropriate amounts for HEART (Human Employment And Resource Training). If the supplier is an independent contractor then that person is responsible to write his /her own demand for tax and pay over the appropriate amounts so written in addition to filing estimated tax. Don’t be too excited about independent contracting just yet for you may just be liable to a minimum tax.

Many business persons who have employees as well as independent contractors do not understand the rules for preparing a tax return. Some business persons prefer to use their time to concentrate on their core business so they contact an independent tax preparer like A&N Robinson & Associates or the Tax Office to prepare their tax returns. Soon all persons will be required to file a tax return therefore whether you are an independent contractor or an employee, the cards presage that you too will soon be filing a tax return.

A business person cannot decide to convert his/her staff to independent contractors without first contemplating the general rule posited above. For if the TAJ (Tax Administration Jamaica) rules that a contract of service ostensibly with an employee, instead of a contract for service presumably with an independent contractor exists,  the business person will become liable for all statutory deductions associated with a contract of service or an employee status.

Contributor: Neville Robinson is a graduate of Mico and a Fellow Chartered Accountant in public practice with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica since 1985. Neville holds the B.Sc. honours degree in Management Studies and a Master’s degree in Accounting. Neville is a partner in the accounting firm A&N Robinson & Associates.

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5 Solutions to Jamaica’s Economic Problems

This discussion presents five ideas which will allow Jamaica to secure an IMF deal in the short-term, reduce Jamaica’s energy cost almost immediately and double Jamaica’s GDP in the next 10 years.

1. Sustainable Community and Skills Development Centre (SCSDC)    


An actual SCSDC is a combination of a renewable energy (traditional) community center on steroids; a high-rise, renewable energy housing complex; and a renewable energy commercial center. Conceptually, the 24-hour security, gated community housing facilities should be made-up of 60 two bedroom units and 60 three bedroom units, encapsulated within the perimeter of the community center, which is itself within the perimeter of a forty (40) outlet commercial complex. The SCSDC will be equipped with three 1000KW solar generators to take advantage of Jamaica’s sunlight of 8 hours/day on average.

Additionally, roof-tops will be equipped with a Gym consisting of 1000 pieces of equipment which transform the kinetic energy from exercises into electricity. All general entry points should have revolving doors which generate electricity. A police station manned by five (5)officers on each shift, including two senior cops, is to be situated within the SCSDC. Eight member JDF teams are to be brought in, on three separate shifts each day, to provide skills training to persons in the surrounding communities within the walls of the SCSDC. Other civic and corporate groups, as well as individuals may also provide training. The police officers and soldiers will be paid by funds from the electricity. These payments are the return on the government’s mezzanine financing, and will be paid as long as the SCSDC exist.

2. Staggered Billing, Taxes and Fees (SBTF)    


The SBTF is a process to stagger the deadline date of payment for different agents in the economy. This will allow for less persons acting at the deadline on any one given day and therefore reduce the need for additional resources on artificially stipulated, coinciding deadline dates for significant masses of economic agents. As an example, Motor Vehicle Registrations (MVR) could be issued such that they expire with exact time reference to the day of issue – MVRs expire six months, or a year to the day of issue. This way, deadline dates for renewals and payment are only dependent on the day each person was first issued a license, the right, or privilege to operate. As another example, companies would be allowed to file taxes and fees at different dates depending on their date of incorporation.

3. 5-5-5 Rule (Debt Exchange and Fiscal Responsibility) 


The 5-5-5 rule is a hybrid between a debt exchange and a fiscal responsibility framework. The three 5’s communicate: (i) the rate of interest on all existing domestically owned government debt will be adjusted to a rate of 5 per cent or less within the next five years; (ii) the government cannot accumulate additional debt amounting to more than 5 percent of the five year moving average of GDP in any five year period, except in a global or regional economic crisis; (iii) The government cannot borrow at rates of interest exceeding 5 per cent unless at least one of the world’s largest five economies is borrowing at a rate above five percent on equivalent debt instruments.

The usefulness of the 5-5-5 rule is that it would help to reduce debt-servicing cost, and help to preclude high debt burdens in future periods. Of course, high debt burdens crowd out government spending on important social, human and physical capital. The restrictions imposed on government borrowing will put downward pressure on interest rates, and, therefore, mitigate any upward pressure on interest rates. Upward pressure on interest rates is anticipated as a result of the general policy stance of tight monetary policy and expansionary spending (fiscal and private sector combined) policy, which is also prescribed under this arrangement, and is necessary to stimulate the economy while avoiding inflation. Of course, lower interest rates will promote private investments.

  4. The Labor Sale Rule (TLSR)


The Labour Sale Rule (TLSR) is a novel process by which the government provides a zero cost to the government, retroactive discount on the first year of multiple years of labour services employed by firms. The process is zero cost to government because while it is essentially a discount paid for by the PAYE taxes that qualified employees would pay, the process is such that all qualified workers would under normal circumstances not be expected to be employed in the absence of TLSR.

5. Firms Absorbing Civil Servants Initiative (FACS)


The FACS is a plan which will see private sector entities receiving a discount (see the “labor sale” rule) to absorb civil servants in a transfer of labor from the public sector to the private sector. This will assist in the reduction of the public sector wage bill, while minimizing unemployment which arises from the public sector rationalization/retrenchment. Additionally, with a smaller work force in the public sector the government’s pension obligations will be reduced.

Download a copy of the full paper (pdf): Click here


About the Author:

Darron Thomas

Pristine Enterprises Limited




At Balcostics our mission is to empower leaders with the required data and information to make better decisions. Learn more about our full list of research outsourcing services for individuals and companies: Click here