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Recently, I have read a few articles discussing the rise in employees working as contractors. For the first time this year, I will file taxes using a 1099 Form, due to my part-time employment as a contract worker for a local organization. With the way my personal life is setup, this part-time employment provides me with the benefit of creating my own schedule around the priority of my family, but I can also see first- hand the darkness rising with this type of employment.
Right off the bat, I started to feel the effects of this change in employment category when attempting to file my taxes. As I read through the different filing software I was considering to use, I realized that I would have to pay a fee in order to file my taxes this year, since I was counting income using a 1099. Usually, due to my low-income status, I can file for free. Being low-income, the fee was nothing to cough at. But as I have read through these articles, something else is striking me. In the stories I read, the rise in contract work was made to appear as if it was a choice made by the employee, rather than the only option that is starting to be presented to people now-especially since employers are realizing the benefits of having people at their disposal that they don’t truly have to be responsible for. And if we increasingly find that employers are offering livable wages that are purely contractual, then the benefits of “being your own boss” will start to pale in comparison to the disadvantages. For example, my current employment allows me more time to focus on my family. Let’s say that I am being paid $20 an hour. Great wage right? But I am only contracted to work for 8-10 hours a week. Not to mention all the costs I incur as a contract employee, because the employer is not entitled to give me the tools necessary to perform the job, as they would do for someone who they actually hired into their company. My rent every month is $870. Even without the deduction of taxes, the amount I am being paid to work this job is not even enough to cover my most basic living expense. Keep in mind that I prefer to work full-time, but I also find increasingly that employers want the benefits that come with hiring educated employees, while offering less than entry-level benefits.
For some people who have two-income households this employment may be okay, because one person may hold a full-time job, while the other is working as a contractor. But think about single parents who already struggle with choosing between providing for their families and being present for their families. What good does it do someone to strive to provide for a family at the (increasingly permanent) cost of their quality of life?