Paying Independent Contractors & Guests

LAST UPDATED: June 22, 2014

What You Should Know

This webpage is your one-stop resource for the tools and information needed to hire and pay an independent contractor, a limited engagement, or an honorarium.

Departments often engage the services of individuals who are not employees of the University, including independent contractors, guest lecturers, entertainers, and others. To remain compliant with state and federal Departments of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it is necessary to correctly classify a worker either as an independent contractor or employee.

Employees are not considered independent contractors. Employees are hired through Human Resources or the Office of the Dean of Faculty, and paid through the Payroll function.

Independent Contractors

When engaging independent contractors, various insurance requirements, government regulations, and University policy must be followed. Please see the Independent Contractors Policy, which details the criteria that defines an independent contractor, and follow the required procedure for appropriate payment according to the IRS regulations.

We have simplified the documentation requirements and payment process for two low-risk categories of independent contractor who meet the following limited engagement or honoraria criteria.

Limited engagement criteria:

  • payment of $5,000 or less
  • service may be provided only one (or one time per year)

Examples of limited engagements:

  • Academic guest speakers, guest artists or special lecturers 
  • Distinguished guest speakers at University functions 
  • Short-term professional publication manuscript reviewers or editors 
  • Non-recurring seminar or workshop leaders

A limited engagement does not require the completion of the Service Provider Questionnaire, Independent Contractor Checklist, or Independent Contractor Agreement. Instead, one of these forms must be completed: Limited Engagement Agreement (for U.S. citizens) or Limited Engagement Agreement (for Foreign Nationals). However, professional entertainers and artists hired to create works for the University are not eligible for the limited engagement exception.

Honorarium criteria:

  • payment of $2,500 or less
  • service must be related to usual academic activity

Please see the Independent Contractor Policy, which lists the criteria for classifying independent contractors, including limited engagements and honoraria. For specific instructions on hiring and paying, please see these step-by-step instructions:

Foreign Nationals

When paying a foreign national independent contractor for any service, limited engagement, or honorarium, please keep in mind that international payments are complex in nature and additional documentation may be required. Please refer to these step-by-step instructions for how to pay an Independent Contractor, a Limited Engagement, and an Honorarium and the Payments to Foreign National Guests, Speakers, & Entities website for more information.


 

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