Freelance translators and interpreters are NOT employees August 15, 2011Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation.
Sorry for the recent social media silence. After finally getting my new desktop computer up and running (yes, I am a dinosaur who prefers working on a desktop…) I have been bogged down with work. When I haven’t been translating I have been trying to relax and enjoy the summer.
That said, I had to break my silence when I found out recently that Language Line is claiming that translators and interpreters are truly employees attempting to defraud the government. Please pardon my French, but this is total and utter bullshit.
I know that Language Line likes to schedule their employees on shifts to cover their phone interpreting needs (don’t even get me started on the hourly pay, which I hear is BARELY over minimum wage in some cases), so in this case they truly ARE Language Line employees. However, that does not mean that ALL freelance translators and interpreters – or even all of the translators and interpreters who work for Language Line – are employees. If those Language Line employees are only working part-time they are most likely issued W-2s for their services. If not then Language Line has no right to claim that they are employees. Those part-time Language Line employees are also free to work for other agencies and most likely receive 1099-MISC forms for their work. They then report the W-2 income and 1099-MISC income in separate sections of their IRS tax returns. That’s the way it works – whether you are freelancer translating/interpreting full-time while working part-time at a book store, teaching part-time at a school, college or university or even work part-time for a translation agency.
In my case, I regularly work for at least 14 different agencies (not counting agencies that perhaps contact me once or twice a year with a translation request). I am issued 1099-MISCs from all my agencies who pay me $600 or more a year for my services. I submitted seven 1099s in 2009 and ten 1099s in 2010 as part of my tax returns. According to my tax preparer at Liberty Tax, I had “30 [agency clients] in 2009 and about the same in 2010 not reported on 1099s.”
I am a full-time freelance translator. I am free to accept or turn down translation jobs based on my availability and whether the texts are within my fields of specialization. I work when I want and how I want. I use the translation software I want. I track my income and issue reminders when invoices aren’t paid on time. And I pay my own taxes to the federal, state and local governments based on my earned income from all the agencies I have worked with that year both in the United States and abroad (whether or not they have sent me a 1099-MISC). Let me repeat that – I claim ALL of my income earned both domestically and abroad. I have NEVER attempted to defraud the federal government. You simply don’t screw with Uncle Sam.
Correct me if I am wrong, but freelance translators and interpreters who do not have scheduled shifts with a company all fall under this category. We are FREELANCE translators and interpreters, which means we are contractors who are free to work for whomever we want and however we want. This also means we are running our own businesses, whether it be as a sole proprietor, an LLC or an S-Corp. I am frankly offended by Language Line’s claim that because I am a freelance translator I am trying to defraud the government.
Feel free to weigh in with your comments below. The folks who are working hard right now to get translation-friendly legislation passed would appreciate your opinions to use as ammunition.
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