1099 or W-2? Choosing the Best Route as a Dentist

Often in your job hunt, you may come across a practice that offers you the option of being a W-2 employee or a 1099 independent contractor. In order to give an educated and knowing answer, it is essential to understand the differences of the two, highlighting the benefits and drawbacks. The main difference between being a W-2 employee and a 1099 independent contractor as a dentist lies in how you are classified for tax and employment purposes. Each classification comes with its own set of benefits and considerations.

Benefits of being a W-2 employee:

  1. Steady Income: W-2 employees generally receive a steady and predictable income, often with a regular paycheck, making it easier to budget and plan personal finances.
  1. Employer Benefits: W-2 employees may have access to benefits provided by their employer, such as health insurance, retirement plans (401k), paid time off (vacation, sick leave), and other perks.
  1. Less Administrative Burden: As a W-2 employee, the employer is responsible for withholding income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare taxes from your paycheck, as well as paying the employer’s share of payroll taxes.
  1. Job Security: W-2 employees may have more job security since they are under the direct employment of the dental practice or organization.
  1. Professional Development Opportunities: Some dental practices offer professional development opportunities, such as continuing education and training, for their W-2 employees.

Benefits of being a 1099 independent contractor:

  1. Flexibility: As a 1099 independent contractor, you have more control over your schedule and the freedom to work with multiple dental practices or organizations simultaneously, subject to specific terms in your contract.
  1. Tax Deductions: Independent contractors can often deduct business-related expenses, such as equipment, supplies, and travel, which can reduce their taxable income.
  1. Higher Earnings Potential: Independent contractors may have the potential to earn more per hour of work since they negotiate their fees directly with the dental practices they work for.
  1. Independence: You have more autonomy and control over how you run your dental practice and manage patient care.
  1. Opportunity for Business Ownership: Some independent contractors may choose to establish their own dental practice or consulting business in the future.

However, being a 1099 independent contractor also comes with certain responsibilities and potential drawbacks:

  1. Self-Employment Taxes: As a 1099 contractor, you are responsible for paying self-employment taxes, which include both the employee and employer portions of Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  1. No Employer Benefits: Independent contractors typically do not receive employer-provided benefits and must secure their own health insurance and retirement savings.
  1. Variable Income: Income may be less stable and more unpredictable as an independent contractor, depending on patient flow and the number of contracts secured.
  1. Tax Compliance: Independent contractors must handle their own tax withholding and payments, which can be more complex and require additional accounting and tax planning.
  1. Lack of Job Security: Independent contractors do not have the same level of job security as W-2 employees, as their contracts may be project-based or time-limited.

The decision between being a W-2 employee and a 1099 independent contractor depends on your personal preferences, career goals, financial situation, and desire for autonomy. It’s essential to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each classification before making a decision. Additionally, it is recommended to consult with a tax professional and legal counsel to understand the specific tax implications and legal responsibilities associated with each classification in your country or region. Contact one of our employment contract attorneys today.