Take a minute or two and learn a little bit about the new California Freelancer Law, even if you don’t think it can apply to you. California’s rules and regulations have an incredible reach, even to people who don’t live in California.
The California Freelancer Law goes into effect January 1, 2020. The law is designed to help ensure that companies aren’t taking advantage of employees by misclassifying them as contractors when they are working full time as employees. The law was aimed at companies like Uber and Lyft, but it’s having unintended consequences for small businesses like bloggers.
If you live and blog from California, the law affects you the most. If you routinely hire help for your site, you’ll need to start deducting Social Security and Medicare taxes from their paycheck. You’ll also need to contribute to the workers’ compensation fund and pay unemployment insurance on their behalf.
Even though the Freelancer Law is only valid in California, it can affect anyone in the country, If you’re a blogger who routinely hires freelancers as ghostwriters, photographers or as a virtual assistant, you need to make sure they don’t live in California. If you continue to work with a VA, ghostwriter or photographer who lives in California, you need to hire them as a full employee, not as a 1099 contractor. This means you’ll need to pay payroll taxes, including Social Security and Medicare, as well as provide medical insurance if they work the required number of hours.
California freelancers who complete more than 35 pieces a year for a single outlet, including blogs, are subject to these rules. If you’re a freelancer based in California who does work for bloggers or other content creators, it may be more difficult to claim a home office tax deduction.
It’s likely that changes will be coming to the California Freelancer Law, but content creators, bloggers and other creatives that hire virtual assistants, ghostwriters and photographers based in California should take the time to consult an attorney before moving forward with any hiring decisions.