Librarian, interviewed by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel
101 Law Forms for Personal Useby Robin Leonard, Ralph Warner
The law affects practically every aspect of our lives --- but that doesn't mean you can't use it to your advantage. 101 Law Forms for Personal Use gives you step-by-step instructions and all the forms you'll need to cover the legal issues you're most likely to face every day. Available as/p>
The forms you need to protect your family, your assets and yourself.
The law affects practically every aspect of our lives --- but that doesn't mean you can't use it to your advantage. 101 Law Forms for Personal Use gives you step-by-step instructions and all the forms you'll need to cover the legal issues you're most likely to face every day.
*bills of sale for buying and selling personal property
*promissory notes for lending and borrowing money
*a basic will form and general power of attorney form
*contracts for in-home child care
*authorizations for when your children are in the care of others
*releases to settle disputes
*notices for dealing with telemarketers
*contracts for home repair and remodeling
*and much, much more The 5th edition is completely updated for accuracy and ease of use, and now provides a new power of attorney for real estate, security agreement and identify-theft worksheet.
Librarian, interviewed by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Read an Excerpt
Many people hire others to work regularly in their homes -- for example, to take care of their
children during the workday, care for elderly parents, or clean their houses. These relationships are often set up informally, with no written agreement. But informal arrangements can be fraught with problems. If you don't have a written agreement clearly defining responsibilities and benefits,
you and those helping you are all too likely to have different expectations about the job. This can lead to serious disputes -- even to either or both of you bitterly backing out of the arrangement. Far better to draft a clear written understanding of what the job entails.
The agreements in this chapter are for hiring child and elder care providers and other household workers who are employees, not independent contractors. When you hire an employee, you set the hours, responsibilities, and pay rate of the worker. Legally, most babysitters and household workers who
work for you on a regular basis are considered employees for whom you are required to pay taxes, Social Security, and other benefits described below. In contrast, independent contractors typically own their own businesses and work for you only occasionally.
This chapter also includes a Child Care Instructions form you can use for either a full-time child care provider or an occasional babysitter.
For information on hiring independent
contractors, see Working With Independent Contractors, by Stephen Fishman (Nolo).
Do not use this form if you hire a child
or elder care worker or housecleaner through a placement agency. If you use an agency that sets andcollects the worker's fee from you, pays the worker, and controls the terms of the work, the agency will have its own form for you to complete. People you hire through an agency are not your employees -- they are the employees of their agencies.
Legal Obligations for Employees
Assuming your child care worker, elder care worker, or housecleaner is your employee, you have legal obligations to that person. You also become responsible for a certain amount of paperwork and recordkeeping. You do not have to put this information in your child or elder care or housekeeping agreement, but you need to be aware of these responsibilities.
Social Security and Income Taxes. If you pay a child care or elder care worker $1,500 or
more in a calendar year, you must make Social Security (FICA) payments on those wages and withhold
the employee's share of FICA. You do not have to deduct income taxes from wages paid to an employee for working in your home unless the employee requests it and you agree to do so. You make these payments by attaching Schedule H, Household Employment Taxes, to your annual Form 1040.
Unemployment Compensation. If you pay a household employee $1,000 or more in a three-month period, you must pay quarterly taxes under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), using IRS Form 940 or 940-EZ. As with FICA, you pay this amount by attaching Schedule H, Household Employment Taxes, to your annual Form 1040.
Workers' Compensation. Your state may require you to provide workers' compensation insurance against job-related injuries or illnesses suffered by your employees. Check with your state department of labor or employment.
Minimum Wage and Overtime. The federal minimum hourly wage is $5.85, increasing to $6.55 on July 24, 2008. Your child care or elder care worker may be entitled to minimum wage, depending upon their particular hours and earnings. If your state minimum wage is higher, you will need to pay the state wage. In addition, under federal law, most domestic workers (other than live-in workers) qualify for overtime pay. Workers must be paid overtime at a rate of one-and-a-half times the regular rate for all hours worked beyond a 40-hour workweek. You can check the U.S. Department of Labor
website, www.dol.gov, for current information about federal and state minimum wage laws.
New Hire Reporting Form. Within a short time after you hire someone -- 20 days or fewer,
depending on your state's rules -- you must file a New Hire Reporting Form with a designated state agency. The information on the form becomes part of the National Directory of New Hires, used primarily to locate parents to collect child support. To find out about your state's new hire reporting requirements -- and the location of the state agency where you must send this information -- go to www.acf.dhhs.gov.
Federal ID Number. If you hire a household employee, you must obtain a federal employer
identification number (EIN), required by the IRS of all employers for tax filing and reporting
purposes. The form you need is IRS Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number.
IRS ResourcesThe IRS has a number of publications and forms that might help you. Call the IRS at 800-424-FORM or visit its website at www.irs.gov to download these forms and publications. Start with Publication
926, Household Employers' Tax Guide, which describes the major tax responsibilities of employers. You may also want to look at:
- Form SS-8, which contains IRS definitions of independent contractor and employee, and
- Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number.
Reality CheckMany families don't comply with the law that requires them to pay taxes or Social Security for household workers, some of whom are undocumented aliens. This chapter is not intended to preach about the law, but to alert you to the laws that affect your relationships with child and elder care and housekeeping workers. No question, if you fail to pay Social Security and to meet your other legal
obligations as an employer, there may be several negative consequences.
- You may be assessed substantial financial penalties. For example, if your full-time elder care provider files for Social Security five years from now and can prove prior earnings, but no Social Security has been paid, the IRS could back-bill you at high interest rates.
- If you don't meet a state requirement to provide workers' compensation insurance and your child care worker is injured while on the job and can't work for a few months, you may be in hot water if the worker files for workers' compensation. You will probably be held liable for the worker's medical costs and a portion of any lost wages, as well as be fined for not having the insurance in the first place.
- You will not be able to take a child care tax credit on your federal income taxes. The credit is based on your work-related expenses and income
Form 83: Child Care Agreement
A child care provider who takes care of your children in your house, either part time or full time, may live out (often called a caregiver or babysitter) or live-in (an au pair or nanny). The
responsibilities of the position may vary widely, from performing a wide range of housekeeping
services to only taking care of the children.
Use Form 83 to spell out your agreement about the child care worker's responsibilities, hours, benefits, amount and schedule of payment, and other important aspects of the job. The best approach is to be as detailed as possible.
Start by filling in your name, address, phone numbers, and other contact information for yourself (and a second parent if another parent will be signing the Child Care Agreement) and your child care provider. List your children's names and birth dates.
Here's some advice on filling in various sections of the Child Care Agreement:
Location and Schedule of Care (Clause 4). Provide the address where child care will be provided (typically your home) and the days and hours of care, such as 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Live-in nannies or au pairs often work some weeknights and weekends.
Beginning Date (Clause 5) and Training or Probation Period (Clause 6). Specify the date
employment will begin and the length of any training or probation period, such as the first 15 or 30 days of child care. This is the time to make sure that the relationship will work for everyone involved. A training period helps your child care provider get to know your home and neighborhood and the exact way you want things done. If there will be no training or probation period, you can skip this clause.
Responsibilities (Clause 7). The responsibilities of the child care position may vary widely depending on many factors, including the number and age of your children; whether the child care worker lives in or out, and is full or part time; your family situation and needs; and the skills and background of the child care provider. In some households, particularly with infants and toddlers, the babysitter or au pair only takes care of the children and does not do housework, except for doing the children's laundry. In other families, especially with older children, the employee may function more as a housekeeper, cook, and chauffeur. You should specify the child care worker's responsibilities in as much detail as possible, including cooking, bathing, and personal care for your children, social and recreational activities (such as arranging the children's play dates),
transportation (driving kids to and from school or practices), shopping and errands for the family, housecleaning, ironing, and laundry.
Meet the Author
Ralph "Jake" Warner, after a brief hiatus from day-to-day management, is back in the driver's seat at Nolo. Widely recognized as a pioneer of the do-it-yourself law movement, Warner founded Nolo with Ed Sherman in 1972. He began publishing do-it-yourself law books written by him and his colleagues after numerous publishers rejected them. When personal computers came along, he added software to many Nolo books. When the Internet arrived, he pioneered online marketing of books.
In addition to running the company for much of the past three decades, Warner was an active editor and author. He wrote many books, including Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well and How to Run a Thriving Business. Today, he serves as chief executive officer as well as chairman of Nolo's board of directors. During a three-year break earlier this decade, Warner embarked on a new business venture: TallTales Audio, an audio book production company devoted to children's storytelling, online and on CD.
Warner holds a law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley and an undergraduate degree from Princeton.
Robin Leonard is a former attorney who gave up the law to become a rabbi. She is the author of many Nolo books including Money Troubles: Legal Strategies to Cope with Your Debts and Credit Repair. She aslo helped write How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples.
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