A Virtual Assistant is an Independent Contractor, not an Employee

A recent article, Get Organized by Hiring a Virtual Assistant, published by Dunn and Bradstreet, showcases how working with a professional virtual assistant can help bring organization, focus, and stability to a growing business.

While the article does a good job of explaining the overall concept of working with a VA and even points out the advantages of working with an independent contractor as opposed to an employee, citing “there is no need to pay for health insurance, FICA taxes, computer hardware, rent, or anything else necessary to do the job” several other points in the article are misleading and could actually serve to confuse the role of a virtual assistant as a contractor, not an employee.

A Virtual Assistant is an Independent Contractor, not an Employee

In a paragraph discussing the options for and process of locating a professional virtual assistant the author states that many websites “have a database that contain numerous prospective employees and provide registries of qualified professionals.” While professional virtual assistants are most definitely ‘qualified‘ they are not, under any circumstance, ‘prospective employees’.

This kind of language is dangerous for both the client and the virtual assistant for a myriad of reasons including the most obvious legal and tax-related implications – if you treat your virtual assistant as an employee by specifying when and how work must be done the IRS can legally penalize you and your VA come tax time. But perhaps equally important is to recognize the way this misperception of a virtual assistant as an employee can impact the working relationship in a negative way. While it can be difficult for some clients (and even some virtual assistants) to break free of the ’employer/employee’ mindset, it is crucial to the success of both.

Virtual Assistant Information

The Virtual Assistant Information blog provides free information for small businesses, entrepreneurs, startups, executives and individuals interested in learning more about hiring and working with a virtual assistant. We’re part of Virtual Assistantville, a premium virtual assistant directory where you can find and hire a professional virtual assistant to help support your business.

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Walt - 9 years ago

This info is great thanks a lot! I’m not going to be able to ourosutce things quite yet as I’m still learning plenty about doing the marketing work myself but I hope to sometime in the near future. I was wondering do you need to get a business license before doing this and working with a virtual assistant, or can you just simply pay them every month to help you and thats that?

    Virtual Assistant Information - 9 years ago

    Hi Walt, thanks for stopping by the blog and taking the time to comment. If you are located in the United States, you should check with your Secretary of State to find out if the business you are operating requires a business license. Depending on where you live and the type of business you may also need a local/city or county license. One thing to consider is that if you wish to write off the cost of your virtual assistant’s services as a business expense your business needs to be ‘official’. Any professional virtual assistant you work with should also have taken the steps to register their own business.

    With that said, there are some people who utilize the services of a virtual assistant for personal (non-business) projects and in that case, since you would not be running a business, a license would likely not apply.

    Of couse, we’re not able to offer legal advice and it’s always best to check with your local state and city government to ensure you understand and are in compliance with their requirements for whatever it is you’re doing.


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