W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?



  • @JasGot said in Do you list your side business on your resume?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Do you list your side business on your resume?:

    @JasGot said in Do you list your side business on your resume?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Do you list your side business on your resume?:

    @JasGot said in Do you list your side business on your resume?:

    Side businesses on your resume with a "period of time" date through "Current" is immediate disqualification in our company as a conflict of interest.

    By that logic, ANY current job would eliminate you as a conflict of interest. That just doesn't make sense as a disqualification.

    "Side Businesses" are not current employers by any stretch.

    Sure are in my world, 100%.

    You are are either allowed to have your own side business, or you are blurring the lines between who your employer is and how you describe our clients/customers.

    I know where you are coming from, because I tell people all the time, "I have more than 400 bosses".

    You see you customers/clients as your employers, but from what we have talked about, NTG is your employer.

    All you have to do is apply the Federal Labor Laws to the relationship between you and any of these companies you are calling your employers, and you'll quickly see which is actually an employer and which is actually a client/contractor relationship.

    If they are not paying the corporate side payroll taxes of your wages, they are not your "employer". This is how we determine if your current job is "employment" or "side business".

    EDIT: This comment was in process before I saw your three W2 post.

    So that makes it even blurrier if you want to know TRUE employers. Yes I had multiple W2s, and yes I was double full time, but also the people for whom I was employed was not the people who provided the W2s, lol. A weird quirk of Wall St. is that often the bank is your true legal employer, but the W2 comes from another firm. We had to know the IRS 20 point employment list well working in that sector because they would often try to play "you don't really work for us" games when you did, in fact, work for the bank. It got super complex.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Do you list your side business on your resume?:

    A weird quirk of Wall St. is that often the bank is your true legal employer, but the W2 comes from another firm. We had to know the IRS 20 point employment list well working in that sector because they would often try to play "you don't really work for us" games when you did, in fact, work for the bank. It got super complex.

    Can you fork this and go into more detail - I hear about this happening more and more. You work for Contracting company A, but they are nothing more than a placement company who sends you to company B to do actual work, and are directed by a person from company B upon what work to do.



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    You work for Contracting company A, but they are nothing more than a placement company who sends you to company B to do actual work, and are directed by a person from company B upon what work to do.

    This is decently common. The first company is a staffing or just an HR company. In fact, NTG technically does this, too. We are slightly different from what I experienced on Wall St.

    On Wall St. I had a couple different experiences...

    1. Interviewed by, promoted by, and "hired" by a consulting and staffing firm. The customer also interviewed and selected me, but not until the staffing firm had already asked me to be their candidate. Then my pay, benefits, and W2 came from the staffing firm, but I worked on site as a full time employee of the bank. Legally I was an employee of the bank and the only further interaction with the staffing firm was to receive my paycheck and to inform them of when I quit,

    2. Interviewed by, promoted by, and "hired" by the bank, and a staffing firm was told to put my on their rolls and what to pay me. I never spoke to or dealt with the staffing firm. But they provided my paycheck and W2, but we had nothing to say to each other. The bank handled every aspect of the transaction.

    3. NTG interviews, hires, and pays staff for customers. The customers also interview the candidates after NTG has cleared them. Staff them work for the customer, but work using NTG equipment and are managed by an NTG manager. Paycheck and everything come from NTG.



  • In cases 1&2, I was clearly the employee of the bank and the staffing / payroll company was just paper people. They never claimed to be my employer, they never acted like one, and the IRS checklist put all 20 items clearly on the bank. The bank acted as, spoke as, and presented themselves as my employer.

    One part of the checklist is how the companies act. The bank wanted to be my employer and took on the responsibility. The staffing company did not want to be my employer, they didn't even know me.

    That's not enough alone to determine anything, but if one party voluntarily claims responsibility, that's a major factor.



  • In NTG's case, it's far more gray. We have additional reasons why NTG is the employer very concretely, but using the standard guides, we still are... and here is why...

    Our staff are hired, managed and mostly directed by our own managers. Promotions, raises, and retention are determined by us, not by clients. With only the rarest exception, our staff has primary customers with whom they work, but not dedicated customers. They use their own equipment and/or our equipment (they always use ours when we can get it to them), our phones, our email, our IM, have us on their business cards. And we claim them.

    So almost entirely backwards from the banking examples. Our staff is part of our identity and expertise, whereas with the staffing firm, their value existed only in efficient payroll and HR processing.



  • Why do banks and other F500 companies do this you ask? Wouldn't it be more efficient to have people just directly employed?

    Well yes, it would. The system is stupid because it costs money and obviously hides nothing from the IRS, from the department of labor, etc. It's fooling no one.

    Except that isn't true. It fools one key group of unofficial people - investors. It's purely a trick to shift how staff is reported on earnings reports. People are shifted onto and off of these staffing agencies completely to make it look like the bank is hiring when investors think that hiring is a good idea, or laying off when they think that layoffs are a good idea. It allows the bank to behave mostly rationally and retain good staff, while confusing idiotic investors who blindly demand hiring or firing without logic.



  • This is an artefact of why publicly held companies can't be efficient. Stock holders act as drunken cattle and inject insanely idiotic ideas into what should be a very carefully planned and strategic decision. This is why private companies will always be the highest earning entities and why the rich get richer and the poor don't - because the poor tend to get emotional about something they don't understand and act as crowds and direct things without considering what is actually going on, or what their actions mean.

    Blind stock investing sounds great, but OMG it cripples companies.



  • So I have to ask - I hear about places like Google hiring all these "consultants" instead of hiring them full time. One of the main reasons for doing so is so that they, Google, doesn't have to give these contractors the same benefits that they provide their direct hires.

    It's apparently so bad that people who work for the same team, some direct hires some consultants, it's not uncommon for there to be a company function that the direct hires all get informed of and are allowed to attend (typically on company time) but the consultants frankly, are not.

    I've also heard that vacation allowances aren't the same either.

    So - is all this shit I'm hearing nothing but lies? or are the rules different in CA? or are they just a bad company (OK we already know they are a bad company, so don't dive to deep into that).



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    Google, doesn't have to give these contractors the same benefits that they provide their direct hires.

    Key word. Contractor vs FTE simply requires that they be two different pools. I was a full employee of the bank, with benefits. But not the same benefits as the FTEs. The FTEs had a single benefits pool as determined by HR. I had benefits that were negotiated just with me. So I could negotiate whatever mix of things worked for me, FTEs got whatever HR offered. Take it or leave it.



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    It's apparently so bad that people who work for the same team, some direct hires some consultants, it's not uncommon for there to be a company function that the direct hires all get informed of and are allowed to attend (typically on company time) but the consultants frankly, are not.

    This is common and expected. If you let the contractors go to FTE functions, it makes it really obvious to investors that they are employees and that they've been tricked. FTEs often have loads of obligations that contractors don't, too. It's goes both ways.



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    So - is all this shit I'm hearing nothing but lies? or are the rules different in CA? or are they just a bad company (OK we already know they are a bad company, so don't dive to deep into that).

    None of that is true. What you are hearing isn't a lie, it's just the norm and absolutely expected from any company. CA does have different rules, but not in this case. They are a bad company, but this isn't related ๐Ÿ˜‰

    What they are doing totally makes sense for a public corporation and is how it is meant to be. Nothing wrong with it. NTG doesn't want to do that, because our staff are family, but a normal company where people come and go and it's just "a job", even a good job, this is a logical thing.

    In all your description you'll notice that you keep saying that they get "different" benefits. But you never say who gets the advantage. That's telling, and accurate. Because one isn't better or worse, just different. Life is all about variety and large companies have to do more dramatic things to allow for variety in who they hire. This is just one of those ways.



  • So examples....

    When I worked for the big bank, I earned as a "consultant", who was still a legal FTE, but wasn't classified as an FTE to trick investors, I got no official vacation time, no medical leave, crappy health care, a standard 401K, and a salary that ranged from 50% - 300% over my counterparts. I earned more than my boss, and his boss.

    While I got no official vacation or work from home, unofficially I got almost unlimited work from home and when I asked for a two week vacation, they gave me two months. I never needed medical, but they would have kept paying me had anything happened. When my daughter was born, they sent me home... for a year! And when layoffs came around, the FTEs were on the chopping block, but we were not.

    As HR said outright "You only go from consultant to FTE when you aren't good enough to keep as a consultant, but not bad enough to fire." FTE was the lower role, by quite a bit.

    Now other places, that'll be reversed. The point is just that it's kinda random. The two might be equal, but different. They might be equal and the same. They might be wildly different, but in either direction.



  • @scottalanmiller said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    So - is all this shit I'm hearing nothing but lies? or are the rules different in CA? or are they just a bad company (OK we already know they are a bad company, so don't dive to deep into that).

    None of that is true. What you are hearing isn't a lie, it's just the norm and absolutely expected from any company. CA does have different rules, but not in this case. They are a bad company, but this isn't related ๐Ÿ˜‰

    What they are doing totally makes sense for a public corporation and is how it is meant to be. Nothing wrong with it. NTG doesn't want to do that, because our staff are family, but a normal company where people come and go and it's just "a job", even a good job, this is a logical thing.

    In all your description you'll notice that you keep saying that they get "different" benefits. But you never say who gets the advantage. That's telling, and accurate. Because one isn't better or worse, just different. Life is all about variety and large companies have to do more dramatic things to allow for variety in who they hire. This is just one of those ways.

    I lack actual information to say/know if one way is better or not.
    For example of the contractors are earning more but get no vacation paid time off, then expectation could be like JBs recent post.... and that would be fair, in my mind.
    Of course the overheard conversations give an air of negativity as if the contractor is being screwed compared to the FTEs.



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    For example of the contractors are earning more but get no vacation paid time off, then expectation could be like JBs recent post.... and that would be fair, in my mind.

    Right, but you saw the part where I did get a vacation, right? None is guaranteed, but I actually got a bit.



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    Of course the overheard conversations give an air of negativity as if the contractor is being screwed compared to the FTEs.

    People always perceive themselves as getting screwed. The contractor feels screwed because they don't get the soft benefits. The FTE feels screwed because they don't earn the money. People aren't very objective and get emotional and always feel like the scorned party.

    No one actually gets screwed, because in both cases people are negotiating what they get. You only really have a "getting screwed" situation when a union gets involved and peoples' values are no longer evaluated.



  • @scottalanmiller said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    Of course the overheard conversations give an air of negativity as if the contractor is being screwed compared to the FTEs.

    People always perceive themselves as getting screwed. The contractor feels screwed because they don't get the soft benefits. The FTE feels screwed because they don't earn the money. People aren't very objective and get emotional and always feel like the scorned party.

    No one actually gets screwed, because in both cases people are negotiating what they get. You only really have a "getting screwed" situation when a union gets involved and peoples' values are no longer evaluated.

    Yeah without hard numbers on both sides, we simply canโ€™t know if it is equitable or not



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    Yeah without hard numbers on both sides, we simply canโ€™t know if it is equitable or not

    There's no real way to know, even with hard numbers. Because you have to compare the pools, too. And how the benefits matter to them. For some people, for example, vacations or health care are worthless, so even a small amount of money offsets them completely. For others, they are worth more than you'd normally pay.

    The important thing is, everyone negotiates for what their value is and what they can arrive at in the end determines what is equitable.

    Remember when a new employ approaches or is approached by a company, they are not yet in one pool or the other. It's not like group X and group Y are pre-selected. It's equitable by nature because you can choose either pool.

    When I was at the bank, I was offered FTE conversion, but it wouldn't have been as good for me. So I turned it down.



  • @scottalanmiller said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    When I was at the bank, I was offered FTE conversion, but it wouldn't have been as good for me. So I turned it down.

    At a 50% pay increase over the FTE, I can't ever see it being worthwhile. You're already talking a highly paid position (I'm assuming bottom of the barrel FTE is making $80K, that puts you at $120K min... you can pretty easily pay for vacation time (i.e. take non paid time off - if required) and healthcare and still likely still be earning more than the FTE.



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    @scottalanmiller said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    When I was at the bank, I was offered FTE conversion, but it wouldn't have been as good for me. So I turned it down.

    At a 50% pay increase over the FTE, I can't ever see it being worthwhile. You're already talking a highly paid position (I'm assuming bottom of the barrel FTE is making $80K, that puts you at $120K min... you can pretty easily pay for vacation time (i.e. take non paid time off - if required) and healthcare and still likely still be earning more than the FTE.

    Exactly. Although their benefits were really good, they just didn't offset the pay differential. Some people liked it, but the increased risk of being FTE (all layoffs were of FTEs, not consultants) makes even a close situation totally not worth it.



  • @scottalanmiller said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    @scottalanmiller said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    When I was at the bank, I was offered FTE conversion, but it wouldn't have been as good for me. So I turned it down.

    At a 50% pay increase over the FTE, I can't ever see it being worthwhile. You're already talking a highly paid position (I'm assuming bottom of the barrel FTE is making $80K, that puts you at $120K min... you can pretty easily pay for vacation time (i.e. take non paid time off - if required) and healthcare and still likely still be earning more than the FTE.

    Exactly. Although their benefits were really good, they just didn't offset the pay differential. Some people liked it, but the increased risk of being FTE (all layoffs were of FTEs, not consultants) makes even a close situation totally not worth it.

    This is the part that's completely counter intuitive. At least until you explain the reason they even have consultants is because of investors AND assumes the consultants find themselves in a position fairly equal to or better off than the FTEs.

    And that's why the the everyman hates the idea of consulting - they expect to be the first ones put out to pasture.



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    And that's why the the everyman hates the idea of consulting - they expect to be the first ones put out to pasture.

    And often it is. I wouldn't guess that what we had was the norm in all industries, but it is certainly common. Basically the "fodder" are stuck as FTEs and the elite that need special benefits, pay, and protection have to be kept away from the masses in some manner. In giant companies, seeing employees as expendable cogs is common and mass, blind layoffs are common. If you have people who are actually necessary (or highly critical) that you'd struggle to replace and losing them would disrupt the business or just be insanely costly to replace, you have to do something.

    Basically, in a large company, the FTE pool is treated a lot like a union. And sometimes actually is a union. Unions mean that no one with any real value will consider working there. Unless you have a workaround. Consulting is the workaround to actual unions or just union-like employment pools. Giving people the power to negotiate based on their value, rather than just being a generic butt in a seat.



  • So - if consultants aren't the first gone in layoffs - why are they paid so much more?

    I mean you explained a bits:
    FTE might equal better healtcare plan
    FTE has paid vacation
    FTE has paid holidays
    FTE participates in company functions
    401K
    etc

    So as a consultant you'd want the company to make up for these things, and that's generally done with a higher wage... but you said 50%-300% more - holy crap - WHY?

    Does part of the answer come from the fact that the super high paid employees they don't want on the payroll books because that affects top compensation vs bottom for federal reporting? So it's better to keep those high earners off payroll and on operational costs? (seems like a loophole)



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    So - if consultants aren't the first gone in layoffs - why are they paid so much more?

    I mean you explained a bits:
    FTE might equal better healtcare plan
    FTE has paid vacation
    FTE has paid holidays
    FTE participates in company functions
    401K
    etc

    So as a consultant you'd want the company to make up for these things, and that's generally done with a higher wage... but you said 50%-300% more - holy crap - WHY?

    Does part of the answer come from the fact that the super high paid employees they don't want on the payroll books because that affects top compensation vs bottom for federal reporting? So it's better to keep those high earners off payroll and on operational costs? (seems like a loophole)

    You budget consultants based off projects which means you can pay them substantially more.



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    So - if consultants aren't the first gone in layoffs - why are they paid so much more?

    Because they are the senior people. The ones that you couldn't hire at FTE rates, because they aren't fodder.

    In small shops, this problem doesn't happen. Every new hire is a unique situation. But in a normal F500, the FTE pool is effectively a loose union with pay caps, strict vacation and benefit rules, etc.

    Hiring a consultant means you can pay beyond the FTE cap, you can negotiate any terms that make them happy... such as...

    • Higher Pay
    • Foreign Pay
    • 1099 Options (sometimes)
    • Corp to Corp
    • Any vacation they want
    • Work from home
    • Allowed to moonlight / side gig
    • Whatever health benefits they want (including none)
    • Guaranteed holidays or times


  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    Does part of the answer come from the fact that the super high paid employees they don't want on the payroll books because that affects top compensation vs bottom for federal reporting? So it's better to keep those high earners off payroll and on operational costs? (seems like a loophole)

    Correct. This is the basic reason. They don't want their salary reported to FTEs, they don't want people able to compare, they don't want stock holders seeing the numbers, etc. But NOT for Federal Reporting, Fed reporting can't change because they are all employees just the same. It's SHAREHOLDER reporting.

    So it IS a loophole, but not a loophole to the feds or IRS, they know exactly what is going on. It's a loophole to idiot investors who are attempting to sabotage their own investments by trying to manage something without knowing what they are doing.



  • The bottom line isn't that consultants are better, worse, or anything in particular. They exist because companies need exceptions from the normal process. Maybe this is because a consultant is temporary, maybe because they are more permanent, maybe because they need to be paid more, maybe because they need to be paid less, maybe they just need a more flexible work arrangement. Whatever the case, the one universal factor is that consultant positions in any company are there to not be part of the general employment pool with the general employment rules and reporting.

    Every company uses these differently. But nearly every large business needs them. And many small ones.



  • Now, when it is used badly is when companies treat FTEs well, and consultants poorly, and advertise how great of a place they are to work at and use it to make employment there look better than it is. This is sadly common and part of the giant scam that American employment often is. No transparency and nearly everything is a lie.

    In the real world, though, places that I have worked haven't done that and if anything it is the opposite. They make themselves look like much worse places because their FTE pool reports lower pay and less stability than the average actually is.



  • @scottalanmiller said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    Now, when it is used badly is when companies treat FTEs well, and consultants poorly, and advertise how great of a place they are to work at and use it to make employment there look better than it is. This is sadly common and part of the giant scam that American employment often is. No transparency and nearly everything is a lie.

    Apparently that is what Google does - at least according to the few things I've heard. They hire tons of consultants so they can treat them badly - low pay, low benefits, etc.



  • This is one of the many reasons why things like Glassdoor are misleading. On average, Glassdoor and anyplace like that only reports on the numbers of the "fodder pool", not the overall range. So if you look at a shop it might say that $80K is the top pay that you can get there, but there are actual people there earning much more, maybe $140K. But they aren't FTEs and they aren't going to divulge their good deals that violate the FTE rules.



  • @Dashrender said in W2, the IRS Test, and Who Do I Work For?:

    Apparently that is what Google does - at least according to the few things I've heard. They hire tons of consultants so they can treat them badly - low pay, low benefits, etc.

    Which makes no sense because Google already treats their FTEs badly and everyone is under NDA so none of it matters. It's famously the worst place to work in the valley and a huge black mark on your employment record as it is - no one wants to hire people who got stuck at Google. So why they'd need a pool of people to treat even worse when they could just do that to their FTEs makes little sense.

    Everything coming from Google (or about it) has to be taken with a grain of salt. What we know is that it's a terrible employer and a terrible place to work and a terrible thing for your resume. What we don't know is how FTE vs. consultant works, exact details, or anything particular about what it is like inside. Likely they do have consultants and treat them badly, but this just implies that they are actually needing to hire people that are so bad, that they aren't good enough to get FTE status at a place no one should even be willing to interview at in the first place.


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