Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Adjunct Professor Ruled an Employee

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Adjunct Professor Ruled an Employee

Article excerpt

The Tax Court held that an adjunct university professor was a common-law employee and not a statutory employee or independent contractor, since he exercised only limited control over his course curriculum and materials and the university considered him its employee.

William Schramm was an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) teaching online courses in economics. The university required Schramm to follow various employment policies, including ones on sexual harassment, drugs and conflicts of interest. He was paid a fixed amount for each course that he taught. Although the university provided Schramm with the dates the courses were to be held, an overall description of the courses to be taught and a website interface for each course, he prepared detailed course syllabuses. He also established his own work hours and was able to work remotely by computer. The university withheld federal income and employment taxes from Schramm's wages. At the end of each year, NSU issued Schramm a Form W-2 on which it did not check box 13 to indicate that he was a statutory employee.

In January 2007, Schramm wrote NSU, requesting clarification of his employment relationship. The university sent him a letter advising him that NSU classified all of its adjunct professors (including him) as common-law employees and not as statutory employees or independent contractors.

On his 2006 federal income tax return, Schramm reported his income from NSU as business income on Schedule C rather than as wages. …

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