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Starting In 2020 New Worker Classification Law Takes Effect In California

Starting In 2020 New Worker Classification Law Takes Effect In California

On January 1, 2020, Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) went into effect and may impact whether your workers are treated as employees or as independent contractors under California law.

In 2018, the California Supreme Court adopted “the ABC test” in Dynamex v. Superior Court. Under the ABC test, a worker is considered an employee, and not an independent contractor, unless the hiring entity can demonstrate that it meets all three of the following requirements:

  1. The individual is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact;
  2. The individual performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
  3. The individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

Assembly Bill (AB 5) was signed into law to codify – or write into statute – the ABC test from the Dynamex v. Superior Court decision. Under AB 5, the “ABC test” must be used to determine the appropriate classification of workers in most occupations for purposes of the Labor Code, the Unemployment insurance Code, and Industrial Welfare Commission (IWO) wage orders.

There are two exceptions to the current application of AB 5:

  1. AB 5 applies to work performed after January 1, 2020. Exceptions have specific requirements and the EDD will use the Borello common law test in these cases. View AB 5 for more details on exceptions.
  1. Additionally, AB 170 exempts newspaper distributors and carriers from the ABC test until January 1, 2021.

Federal Worker Classification Status More Complicated

Under Federal law, the determination of worker classification can be complex and depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. The determination is based on whether the person for whom the services are performed has the right to control how the worker performs the services. It is not based merely on how the worker is paid, how often the worker is paid, or whether the work is part-time or full-time.

There are three basic categories of factors that are relevant to determining a worker’s classification:

  • Behavioral control (whether there is a right to direct or control how the worker does the work),
  • Financial control (whether there is a right to direct or control the business part of the work), and
  • Relationship of the parties (how the business and worker perceive the relationship).

Generally, if you are an independent contractor you are considered self-employed and should report your income (nonemployee compensation) on Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss From Business (Sole Proprietorship), or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040), Net Profit From Business (Sole Proprietorship). Most self-employed individuals will need to pay self-employment tax (comprised of social security and Medicare taxes) if their income (net earnings from self-employment) is $400 or more. Use Schedule SE (Form 1040), Self-Employment Tax, to figure the tax due.

Generally, there is no tax withholding on income you receive as a self-employed individual as long as you provide your taxpayer identification number (TIN) to the payer. However, you may be subject to the requirement to make quarterly estimated tax payments. If you do not make timely estimated tax payments, the IRS may assess a penalty for an underpayment of estimated tax. Unlike independent contractors, employees generally pay income tax and their share of social security and Medicare taxes through payroll deductions (withholding).

California Employment Development Department

The Employment Development Department (EDD) administers payroll taxes which includes all employer paid taxes, State Income Tax Withholding of employees, State Disability Insurance (“SDI”) Taxes and Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) Taxes.

The greatest impact of AB 5 is that: after January 1, 2020, workers will be considered employees unless proven otherwise. The hiring entity must show that workers meet all conditions of the ABC test in order to classify them as independent contractors, unless there is a statutory exclusion or determination of employment. AB 5 does not change how out-of-state workers are classified. You can be certain that if your business is selected for audit by the EDD, the EDD will be applying AB 5.

Generally, the EDD employment tax audits cover a three-year statutory period, comprising the 12 most recently completed calendar quarters. An audit begins with the examination of records for a test year which is generally the most recent completed calendar year. However, the examination may be expanded to include the records for the entire period covered by the audit and in some situations may extend beyond the three-year statutory period.

Don’t Take The Chance And Lose Everything You Have Worked For.

Protect yourself. Federal and State Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County (Irvine), Los Angeles and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income. Also, if you are involved in cannabis, check out what our cannabis tax attorney can do for you. Additionally, if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.

Request A Case Evaluation Or Tax Resolution Development Plan

Get a Tax Resolution Development Plan from us first before you attempt to deal with the IRS. There are several options for you to meet or connect with Board Certified Tax Attorney Jeffrey B. Kahn. Jeff will review your situation and go over your options and best strategy to resolve your tax problems. This is more than a mere consultation. You will get the strategy or plan to move forward to resolve your tax problems! Jeff’s office can set up a date and time that is convenient for you. By the end of your Tax Resolution Development Plan Session, if you desire to hire us to implement the strategy or plan, Jeff would quote you our fees and apply in full the session fee paid for the Tax Resolution Development Plan Session.

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Most Popular GoToMeeting Virtual Tax Development Resolution Plan Session
Maximum Duration: 60 minutes - Session
Fee: $350.00 (Credited if hired*)
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Reduced Fee Face-To-Face Tax Development Resolution Plan Session (Irvine Office Only)
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Session is held at our main office. 15615 Alton Parkway, Suite 450, Irvine, CA 92618.


Standard Fee Face-To-Face Tax Development Resolution Plan Session (Any Location Outside Our Irvine Office)
Maximum Duration: 60 minutes - Session
Fee: $600.00 (Credited if hired*)
Session is held at any of our offices outside our Irvine office or any other location you designate such as your financial adviser’s office or your accountant’s office, your place of business or your residence.


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* The session fee is non-refundable and any allotted duration of time unused is not refunded; however, the full session fee will be applied as a credit toward future service if you choose to engage our firm.