Must Taxpayers File “Timely” Forms 1099 to Obtain Section 530 Relief? Unexpected Answers from a Recent Worker-Classification Case

By Hale Sheppard

When battling the IRS, knowledge is power.  Nowhere is this more true than in worker-classification cases, where the IRS often seems hell-bent on treating all workers as employees, regardless of the facts.  One bright spot for taxpayers under IRS scrutiny is an obscure provision, commonly known as Section 530, that grants taxpayers a brand of “civil immunity” if they meet three criteria.  One requirement is that taxpayers file Forms 1099 (Miscellaneous Income) for all workers considered to be independent contractors.

For over three decades, the IRS has taken the position that Section 530 relief is not available unless taxpayers file their Forms 1099 in a “timely” manner.  One problem with the IRS’s stance is that it has been questioned and contradicted by at least two courts, including the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a recent case called Bruecher Foundation Services, Inc. v. United States.  The bigger problem is that too many taxpayers, unaware of the relevant rules and caselaw, allow themselves to lose worker-classification cases, unnecessarily prolong audits, and/or miss opportunities to seek fee reimbursement from the IRS.  This article, published in the May 2013 issue of TAXES – The Tax Magazine, aims to alleviate these problems by highlighting and analyzing the taxpayer-favorable authorities regarding Section 530 relief and the Form 1099 filing requirement.

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