(1) In general. If --
(A) for purposes of employment taxes, the taxpayer did not treat an individual as an employee for any period, and
(B) in the case of periods after December 31, 1978, all Federal tax returns (including information returns) required to be filed by the taxpayer with respect to such individual for such period are filed on a basis consistent with the taxpayer's treatment of such individual as not being an employee,
then, for purposes of applying such taxes for such period with respect to the taxpayer, the individual shall be deemed not to be an employee unless the taxpayer had no reasonable basis for not treating such individual as an employee.
(2) Statutory standards providing one method of satisfying the requirements of paragraph (1). For purposes of paragraph (1), a taxpayer shall in any case be treated as having a reasonable basis for not treating an individual as an employee for a period if the taxpayer's treatment of such individual for such period was in reasonable reliance on any of the following:
(A) judicial precedent, published rulings, technical advice with respect to the taxpayer, or a letter ruling to the taxpayer;
(B) a past Internal Revenue Service audit of the taxpayer in which there was no assessment attributable to the treatment (for employment tax purposes) of the individuals holding positions substantially similar to the position held by this individual; or
(C) long-standing recognized practice of a significant segment of the industry in which such individual was engaged.
(3) Consistency required in the case of prior tax treatment. Paragraph (1) shall not apply with respect to the treatment of any individual for employment tax purposes for any period ending after December 31, 1978, if the taxpayer (or a predecessor) has treated any individual holding a substantially similar position as an employee for purposes of the employment taxes for any period beginning after December 31, 1977.
(4) Refund or credit of overpayment. If refund or credit of any overpayment of an employment tax resulting from the application of paragraph (1) is not barred on the date of the enactment of this Act by any law or rule of law, the period for filing a claim for refund or credit of such overpayment (to the extent attributable to the application of paragraph (1) shall not expire before the date 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(1) Employment tax. The term employment tax means any tax imposed by subtitle C of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
(2) Employment status. The term employment status means the status of an individual, under the usual common law rules applicable in determining the employer-employee relationship, as an employee or as an independent contractor (or other individual who is not an employee).
(1) Notice of availability of section. An officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service shall, before or at the commencement of any audit inquiry relating to the employment status of one or more individuals who perform services for the taxpayer, provide the taxpayer with a written notice of the provisions of this section.
(2) Rules relating to statutory standards. For purposes of subsection (a)(2) --
(A) a taxpayer may not rely on an audit commenced after December 31, 1996, for purposes of subparagraph (B) thereof unless such audit included an examination for employment tax purposes of whether the individual involved (or any individual holding a position substantially similar to the position held by the individual involved) should be treated as an employee of the taxpayer,
(B) in no event shall the significant segment requirement of subparagraph (C) thereof be construed to require a reasonable showing of the practice of more than 25 percent of the industry (determined by not taking into account the taxpayer), and
(C) in applying the long-standing recognized practice requirement of subparagraph (C) thereof --
(i) such requirement shall not be construed as requiring the practice to have continued for more than 10 years, and
(ii) a practice shall not fail to be treated as long-standing merely because such practice began after 1978.
(3) Availability of safe harbors. Nothing in this section shall be construed to provide that subsection (a) only applies where the individual involved is otherwise an employee of the taxpayer.
(4) Burden of proof.
(A) In general. If --
(i) a taxpayer establishes a prima facie case that it was reasonable not to treat an individual as an employee for purposes of this section, and
(ii) the taxpayer has fully cooperated with reasonable requests from the Secretary of the Treasury or his delegate,
then the burden of proof with respect to such treatment shall be on the Secretary.
(B) Exception for other reasonable basis. In the case of any issue involving whether the taxpayer had a reasonable basis not to treat an individual as an employee for purposes of this section, subparagraph (A) shall only apply for purposes of determining whether the taxpayer meets the requirements of subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of subsection (a)(2).
(5) Preservation of prior period safe harbor. If --
(A) an individual would (but for the treatment referred to in subparagraph (B)) be deemed not to be an employee of the taxpayer under subsection (a) for any prior period, and
(B) such individual is treated by the taxpayer as an employee for employment tax purposes for any subsequent period,
then, for purposes of applying such taxes for such prior period with respect to the taxpayer, the individual shall be deemed not to be an employee.
(6) Substantially similar position. For purposes of this section, the determination as to whether an individual holds a position substantially similar to a position held by another individual shall include consideration of the relationship between the taxpayer and such individuals.