Your Opinion: Don’t over-regulate independent contractors

Dear Editor:

From personal trainers and hairstylists to dentists, lawyers, and accountants, 10.3 million people nationwide work as independent contractors. The role these individuals play in the U.S. economy by creating new jobs and providing services is often unnoticed.

As the owner of Sommers Interiors, I would like to highlight the important contributions independent contractors make to not only my business, but also to our city, state and nation. Family owned and operated since 1974, Sommers Interiors specializes in flooring, window, and wall treatments.

Although we employ full-time employees to handle many of our installations, there are instances when we turn to independent contractors. We have the ability to hire workers according to demand and better serve customers. This method generates higher quality work as we are able to hire specialized contractors to complete work. Customers of Sommers Interiors reap the cost savings, as our independent contractors are compensated on a project basis.

The independent contractor model is beneficial to many area small businesses and independent contractors. However, actions at both the state and federal level are being taken to prohibit companies from working with independent contractors. The Department of Labor and the IRS have undergone various initiatives to reclassify independent contractors as employees, making relationships between independent contractors and small businesses more challenging. Should these and other efforts succeed, independent contractors, small businesses, and the U.S. economy will suffer.

The economic benefits brought about by independent contractors play an integral role in the U.S. economy. For 30, independent contractors and small businesses have been a critical part of the net growth in U.S. employment. The jobs created often out-number those created by larger companies. Combined annually, independent contractors add $626 billion in personal income to the U.S. economy, equivalent to one out of every eight dollars earned in the United States. Contrary to many beliefs, 97 percent of independent contractors are accurately reporting this income to the government and diligently paying their taxes – a higher level than if they were classified as employees.

There is no need to over-regulate small businesses and independent contractors. These hardworking individuals deserve the right to work as any other traditionally employee. Without the expertise and support independent contractors provide, small businesses would would suffer, straining the economy. We need to work to protect our independent contractors and the unique work that they do.

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