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Massachusetts law about independent contractors

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on independent contractors law.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.149, s.148B Classification standard for independent contractors in Mass.

Federal laws

Internal Revenue Service Revenue Ruling 87-41 Establishes the federal "twenty point test."

Selected case law

Camargo's Case, 479 Mass. 492 (2018)
The definition of "employee" is different in the worker's compensation statute,  G. L. c. 152, § 1, than in the independent contractor statute, G. L. c. 149, § 148B. When determining eligibility for worker's compensation, the definition in  G. L. c. 152, § 1, and not the definition in G. L. c. 149, § 148B, is used.

Massachusetts Delivery Association v. Coakley, 769 F.3d 11 (2014)
The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act ("FAAAA") preempts the second  "prong of the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 148B(a)(2), which requires that workers perform a service "outside the usual course of the business of the employer" to be classified as independent contractors." Workers cannot be classified as independent contractors, therefore, just because they "perform delivery services within the usual course of business for the delivery companies." 

Somers v. Converged Access, Inc., 454 Mass. 582 (2009)
The measure of damages is not "measured by subtracting the compensation the plaintiff obtained as an independent contractor from the compensation the plaintiff would have received had he been hired as an employee. We conclude that this measure of damages contravenes both the plain meaning and the primary purpose of the independent contractor statute and the wage act. An employee misclassified as an independent contractor, as a matter of law, is an employee; his contract rate is his wage rate; and his "damages incurred" equal the value of wages and benefits he should have received as an employee, but did not."

Schwann et al. vs. Fedex Ground Package System, US Dist. Ct. Mass. (2017) and Remington et al vs. J.B. Hunt, Inc. US Dist. Ct. Mass. (2016).
Discussion of preemption of the first and third prongs of the Mass. independent contractor statute by the FAAAA.

Web sources

Consultant and Independent Contractor Agreements, Nolo, 2017
Book of forms for independent contractors in various fields. Requires library card for access.

Effect of New Employee Classification Requirements under G.L. c. 149, § 148B on Withholding of Tax on Wages under G.L. c. 62B, TIR 05-11, Mass. Dept. of Revenue
"This TIR summarizes the differences in the general rules for determining employee/independent contractor status under chapters 149 and 62B. Second, this TIR announces that the Commissioner will accept determinations of employee or independent contractor status, as described in this TIR, by the Internal Revenue Service for purposes of identifying income tax withholding obligations under chapter 62B."

Sharing Economy Tax Center, IRS
"If you use one of the many online platforms available to rent a spare bedroom, provide car rides, or to connect and provide a number of other goods or services, you’re involved in what is sometimes called the sharing economy....If you receive income from a sharing economy activity, it’s generally taxable even if you don’t receive a...statement."

Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Independent Contractors, Nolo, 2017
Includes information on Insuring your business, self-employment tax, copyrights, client agreements, licenses, permits, and more. Requires library card for access.

Working With Independent Contractors, Nolo, 2017
Explains categorization of independent contractors and strategies for avoiding trouble. Requires library card for access.

Advisory on the Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law, Mass. Attorney General Advisory 2008/1 
Covers history of the law, the 3-prong test, what constitutes violation of the law, and enforcement guidelines

Print sources

Employment Status: Employee v. Independent Contractor, Tax Management, loose-leaf

Independent Contractor v. Employee, MCLE, 2011



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: May 29, 2018


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