My church, my taxes and me
October 11, 2013 8:03 PM Subscribe
I think my employer is doing something shady. I think it affects me. I am really upset and I don't know what to do. It's a tax question with an emotional backstory.
posted by Biblio to work & money (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
2 years ago, I was in a jam. I was having trouble finding a job in my field, and I was working a shitty retail job. I was having migraines and teetering on the edge of depression. All of a sudden, my church offered me a job. I was told that due to a gift by a parishioner, they were able to create a new position and wanted me to fill it. It was a position was qualified for and excited to do. I felt incredibly grateful and blessed.
When I began work, I was prepared to fill out the normal paperwork, but I was told that they wanted to hire me as a "consultant." I never filled out a W9. I should have asked more questions, but I figured Joe (the board member who was in charge of my hiring) knew what he was talking about. He is a very successful entrepreneur and gives a lot of financial support to the parish. When tax time came around, I asked him if the church was going to give me any kind of tax form. He said no, because I was a consultant. I basically asked the treasurer for a printout of all of my paychecks and used that for my taxes.
I don't know why, but the other day I started to wonder what made me a consultant, when as far as I could tell, I just worked there. So I ended up reading about the difference between employees and contractors. I am definitely an employee. I'm in Massachusetts, which has really strict contracting guidelines and I don't think the church could even begin to make a case that I'm a contractor. I have an office, a church email account, a place in the staff directory and my title is "director of ____". My employment period is indefinite, I am only paid for a certain number of hours per week and I submit a time sheet each week. I'm like a textbook employee.
The more I think about this, the more upset I get. I don't think I was misclassified as a mistake. If they genuinely thought I was a contractor, they would have had me fill out a W9 and given me 1099 forms in 2012 and 2011. They might also have, you know, drawn up a contract with me. So I think someone (a few people?) was fudging things and trying to avoid taxes. My reading indicates that some misclassified employees end up being owed money. (I work part time, though, so I don't know if I would) At the very least, the government is owed money. And I have no idea what liabilities I face because of this. My taxes have obviously not been correct.
I'm mad. I'm hurt. I feel like I was taken advantage of and I feel gullible and dumb. But I also feel like these people rescued me when I needed it and I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Which then makes me feel gross. I definitely feel like I need to address it. Obviously, if this were just any other employer, this would be easier. I could talk to HR. But I have a feeling that I am going to run into serious denial and obstruction. Like a lot of churches, there is a lot of dysfunction in my parish. I can imagine Joe paternalistically saying "Oh, Biblio, I think you misunderstood this complicated business thing. Everything is hunky dory." I can picture my Rector sticking her fingers in her ears and going "la la la". Other people just might not want to upset the apple cart. My spouse, who is also involved in the parish, doesn't think I should get anyone outside of the church involved, at least not yet. So how do I broach this? Who do I go to?
I want to keep this job. I want to worship at this church. But I want things to be done the right way. I really just don't know what to do.