The IRS recently reminded motor carriers using owner-operators to include fuel surcharge payments in the Form 1099 report of compensation paid to the owner-operator. Correspondingly, the IRS urged owner-operators to confirm with the motor carriers that the compensation being reported in Form 1099 includes the fuel charge and to include any non-reported fuel surcharges in the income reported on their returns. Additional information is available at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/.
In addition to the budget proposals, two bills are pending in Congress that would seek to limit misclassification by changing the application of the IRS Section 530 safe harbor provisions and making it more difficult to establish a reasonable justification for using independent contractors. It remains to be seen what impact these proposals will have on the well established use of owner-operators in the trucking industry.
The FMCSA has announced that its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) will hold a committee meeting via conference call on December 7, 2009. The conference call is open to the public, and the FMCSA is seeking participation by “safety advocacy groups, State safety agencies, motor carriers, motor carrier associations, owner-operators, drivers, and labor unions.”
The MCSAC will be requested to provide advice and recommendations on the hours of service requirements for drivers of property-carrying vehicles following the FMCSA settlement agreement with the group Public Citizen and others. That agreement requires the FMCSA to submit a Proposed Rule within 9 months, and publish a Final Rule within 21 months, after the October 26, 2009 settlement date. The FMCSA said other steps will include public listening sessions across the country and the opportunity for public comment on the forthcoming proposed rule.
The deadline for written comments on this topic is December 3, 2009. For more information, see Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee Public Meeting, 74 Fed. Reg. 62882 (Dec. 1, 2009).
A good first step in succession planning for any size business is evaluating the usefulness of a power of attorney in the operation of your company. Who will sign checks? Who can deal with other banking, regulatory or legal issues? For many small single-owner businesses, the owner’s inability to attend to the day-to-day mechanics of running the company can be satisfied with the execution of a power of attorney naming a trusted employee or family member. In larger companies, where equity ownership includes multiple persons, it isn’t necessarily the day-to-day operations that present problems. However, both the company and other equity owners will need assurance they can deal with a legally appointed personal representative, and the existence of a power of attorney can eliminate the need for a court proceeding.
The time is now to consider these issues – unique to every business – and plan ahead.