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The Professional Linguist Perspective on Independent Contracting Report

Posted By The Association of Language Companies, Friday, May 12, 2017

Walnut, CA , May 10, 2017– US tax authorities have shown increasing interest in how professional linguists—interpreters and translators—conduct their business. Audits and penalties have been levied against many businesses in the US which contract for services with these linguists under an independent contractor arrangement.

A recent proposal was made to require all linguists to work only as employees, not as independent contractors. The key concern seems to be whether these independent small business people are being manipulated and misclassified in an effort to avoid paying taxes. The remedy would potentially force linguists to make duplicate tax payments across multiple employers, raising their cost of doing business. Companies working with these linguists would potentially bear the burden of higher employment taxes, reporting fees and other costs related to additional headcount. has conducted an independent, national survey of professional linguists to determine their perspectives on this proposal. The findings of this study are contained in the report “The Professional Linguist Perspective on Independent Contracting.”

The major findings of this study include:

  1. Nearly 80% of professional linguists perform work under an independent contractor arrangement.
  2. Nearly 90% of professional linguists feel it is important that they have the option to work as an independent contractor.
  3. Over 90% of professional linguists had more than one client during 2016.
  4. Freedom to choose assignments, a flexible schedule and freedom to set prices were the top benefits cited by professional linguists for being an independent small business person.

As one respondent noted:

“There is no reason for interpreters or translators to be treated as employees unless they decide to work for one client or one agency only and enter into an employment relationship. We are professionals who should have complete control over our own business.”

View the complete study report.

Download a printable PDF of the study report.


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