Sawant Campaign Avoided Payroll Taxes by Paying Consultants as Contractors

Comments

1
Not only is it a shitty dodge on paying taxes, or I should say not paying taxes, but it entirely puts the tax burden upon her employees. Her contractors will all have to make up the full difference in FICA taxes on top of the income taxes due. This is a dodge worthy of those whose business practices that she claims to to stand against. In a way, it make Ksham more dishonest than any of them.
2
There are some positions [and] some times when it is appropriate for someone to be paid under $15 an hour.
3
#OccupySawant
4
Of course she did. Because paying the real costs for the changes you want is always for other people.

This selfish entitled instinct is fully ingrained in Americans with even the best of intentions. I mean fuck, Sawant wasn't stumping for nationalizing corporations like Microsoft when SHE was making a fuck ton of money working for Microsoft.

It's disappointing. But. This underscores why we need strong central governments. So we have laws and regulation to force people to face the actual costs - social costs or financial costs - of doing the things they want, making the changes they want, or find other ways of doing those things.
5
Don't tax her, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree.
6
As much as I like people kicking up the dust in the political world, Savant can afford to be a socialist, she's got lots of money.
7
What am I missing here? These are temporary, part-time employees. As long as the Sawant campaign is providing them with 1099s and the employees are declaring their income, I don't see this as a problem.
8
Heidi - while your on this, look into which charity Sawant is donating her salary too as she promised. At the time she announced it she said she would be transparent about it. Word is it goes the the SA Party to pay for her travel expenses for speaking engagements she is then paid for.
9
Consultants paid as contractors?

That seems completely normal.
10
What @9 said. If the consultants fit the state's definition of an "independent contractor" under WAC-415-02-110, paragraph 2(b) ("Generally, a worker is an independent contractor if the employing entity has the right to control or direct only the result of the labor or services and not the means and methods accomplishing the labor or services").then it's perfectly legal, not to mention standard practice, to pay them as-such. I would venture that a political campaign"consultant" is going to fall under that definition probably 95-plus per cent of the time.

Sorry, non-issue, non-story. Move along, move along...
11
"This is what happens when people want to skirt the minimum wage laws"

"No minimum wage laws were broken, also we make more than 15 an hour"

Yeah let's do a story about that.
12
I agree with others saying that paying consultants as independent contractors is standard, and not inherently shitty.

It matters a lot how much they got paid. Were they getting $15/hour flat rate, before taxes and expenses? Or $50/hour? I've worked as a consultant and the standard practice is to expect to get paid more per hour than a salaried staff person, understanding that that was the exchange for a loss in benefits. I expense my home office, travel time, and all other things, and paid SE taxes of about 12% on the net profit. So if they were paid $15 hourly, then yes, this is a problem. If they were paid $50 hourly, then it is not a problem.

The question of city business licenses is a totally different topic. It's the contractor's job to figure that out, and pay B&O taxes.
13
@7, Accept Sawant's defense to why she was paying so many consultants, was that they weren't, they were employees. Also an independent contractor has a specific meaning under law. You have to provide your own tools and equipment for one, you can be told to get a result, but not be directed in how to do it, etc. Part-time and temporary employees have to be treated for payroll purposes the same as an employee of any length or percentage of full time. And taxes don't get paid. If they are contractors, they may have pay income and social security tax, but they don't get workers comp and L & I coverage and aren't charged for it. So those systems lose out on revenue.
14
#7 The problem is that it makes her a hypocrite.

Did you not bother to read the article?
15
Also Councilmember O'Brien's wife (Washington is a community property state so he benefits too) has volunteer labor at her for-profit business. A big no, no under Washington State Law. So what is it with all these progressives that preach fair treatment of those who's labor they benefit from, but then exploit said labor for their own gain?
16
@14:

I get that people want to hold Sawant to a higher ethical standard; she's sort of set herself up for that, so she shouldn't be surprised when she takes heat for it. But, IF the WA Dept. of Labor were to conclude she was in violation of State labor law and then DOESN'T investigate literally EVERY OTHER ELECTED OFFICIAL OR CANDIDATE FOR PUBLIC OFFICE in Washington for similar violations, then she's being singled out, and held to an UNFAIR standard.
17
@14: I read it three times. I don't see the hypocrisy. Is forcing campaign consultants to be classified as "employees" part of Sawant's platform?
18
There's no violation of anything here. Not law, not ethics, not morals. "Sawant uses biological process used by HITLER! She breathes!" The Stranger is on the slippery slope to tabloid stupidity.
19
@15:

Not so fast there, sparky. There are instances under the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) where volunteer labor to a for-profit business is legally allowed. So, I wouldn't necessary assume Ms O'Brien is in violation, at least not until the authorities actually bring charges against her business.
20
This is a bullshit story. I've worked on about a dozen campaigns, all as a contractor. Every single campaign in America does it that way, especially if you're talking about field work (both Democrats and Republicans). The only campaign which didn't do that was McGinn's first mayoral campaign, which was all done by unpaid volunteers, including myself.

There is absolutely no story here. Please go ask every other campaign in America how they pay their staff.

Jesus this paper has gone so far down hill it's pathetic. Goldy and Dominic jumped ship at the right time.
21
P.S. If you want to investigate hypocrisy, investigate how much Nader's PIRG's pay people. They're by far the worst.

@15 Ever heard of an internship?
22
@21 Unpaid internships are not lawful in Washington State with a for-profit company. They are lawful, as is any amount of donated labor, for a non-profit. The PIRG's are non-profit.

@19 But not under Washington State Law. http://mynorthwest.com/11/2697787/Seattl…

Even if what she is doing meets FLSA requirements, Washington Law is stricter.

http://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2015/01/…
23
The hypocrisy is that, presumably, Sawant would be/is down on Microsoft and Amazon for lowering their full-time headcounts and reducing their tax and benefits burdens by using contractors, but does so herself for the same reasons (again, presumably). Doing so transfers expense and risk to the worker, not the employer.

Her contractors should form a union to properly negotiate benefits. Surely she'd support and endorse that move.
24
Is the Seattle business and occupation tax in addition to the Washington state business and occupation tax ?
25
So what if she is a hypocrite? Welcome to the club. Life isn't an after-school special.
26
@23: Comparing a city council campaign to Microsoft and Amazon is ridiculous.

@24: Yes. But if your gross revenue is less than $100K, you don't own Seattle B&O tax. The state threshold is much lower (like $20K, I think).
27
@7: The question has nothing to do with whether someone is part-time. It has to do with whether the person controls the means and method of work. If not, employee. (In the early stages of a campaign, I expect most consulting work is of the independent contractor variety). And duh, it's not a shitty dodge if the after-tax equivalent is $15/hour.
28
This whole thing is politics as usual. Sawants dirty linen is starting to show and her supporters
come rushing in saying it's okay because everyone else does it to. The sad thing is that the SA party takes such a smug and righteous attitude about themselves. They set up an incident, Kshama shows up for pictures then hastily ducks the scene and later claims credit. Sometimes their anarchist friends arrive to cause trouble. Hitler got his start the same way; he was a socialist too.
29
Oh dear, Our Dear Bertha's brought Hilter to the party. So much for reasonable discussion....
30
Oops. Make that Hitler. He was even worse than Hilter!
31
@25: Careful, that comment may come to be hypocritical the next time you bash Republicans for their hypocrisy.
32
I didn't bring Hitler into the discussion, he was mentioned before me in this slog. I just mentioned him as point os comparison; sometimes people don't fully realize what they are in for. Liberal, conservative or super liberal, boil them all down and it's all the same. They all have infighting, factions that want to go different ways, and above all cronyism.
33
@26's right. This whole thing is an empty rant. You don't hire permanent employees as campaign workers.
34
There are lots of companies that hire temporary employees; stores during the Xmas season and most construction jobs to name a couple. These workers are not hired as independent contractors.
35
Woo hoo — a silly smear-attempt against Kshama Sawant’s socialist election campaign!

An absurd thestranger.com article, premised on the even more absurd assumption that we should treat huge corporations the same as small businesses!
No!
We fight to take into public ownership, under worker and community control and management, the top 500 monopoly corporations.
And, amongst other things, use those resources to help small businesses with cheap credit so they can grow.

“But isn’t that discriminating against us?”, squawk the 500 monopoly corporations which own most of the US economy.
Absolutely! And so much the better!

Here’s Trotsky’s 1938 work “Their Morals and Ours”:
https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky…

And hey, what’s this nonsensical insinuation that Kshama’s socialist campaign volunteers are somehow being short-changed?
Volunteers do get “paid” — in hope, hugs, humor!
The best things in life!
[ Okay, and maybe pizza when there’s a little money left over! ]
So come join us!
:)

http://www.socialistalternative.org/
http://15now.org/

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!
36
As an independent consultant to chooses to be so, I find this story stupid and misdirected. 1099 contractors do so by choice, as it's a far more flexible way to work. Taxes are still paid -- they're covered by the contractor. Increased hourly wages make up the difference.

Why wouldn't campaign specialists want to be independent? Campaigns are transient by definition.

Another non-story by untalented, non-journalist Feit.
37
Be careful what you wish for; also, Trotsky was hunted down and assassinated.
38
I'm very against turning full time positions into contractor positions to avoid the various regulations involved in full time work but there are obviously times that hiring contractors makes sense for both the "employer" and the worker. I'm actually a little surprised to hear that any campaign workers would be hired on as full time workers. I would expect virtually all of them to be contractors due to the transient and temporary nature of the work.