Editor, Writer

Diane M. Byrne

I’m the owner of RedHedInk LLC, which provides freelance writing and editing services. Magazines and websites hire me to write and edit based on my more than 20 years of experience, and I commission freelance articles and other freelance content for another company, Superyacht Storytellers LLC, which I co-own.

Why I want to remain an independent contractor: It affords me the freedom (including financial freedom) that I did not have in the corporate world. I left my job as a full-time magazine staff editor in August 2008. Less than one month later, that same magazine eliminated one-third of the editorial staff, including the editor who had taken my place, in a cost-cutting move. That would have been me if I had stayed, and given that the recession was just starting to take hold, decimating newsrooms and magazine offices, it would have been challenging at best to find a full-time replacement job. As a freelancer, I have a rotating roster of clients who actually make me feel more financially secure than I would back in the full-time workforce.

Furthermore, as an independent business owner and co-owner, I rely on independent contractors to provide writing, photography, website design, troubleshooting and graphic design services, among others. My businesses do not require rosters of full-time employees, nor can they afford to bring on full-time employees.

What will happen if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: It will put me out of business. Period.

Lawmakers need to realize: You are not only about to destroy the careers and personal lives of those of us who choose to be independent contractors, but you also are acting in complete ignorance of common sense. The federal government, via the IRS, has had a longstanding checklist to use in evaluating who’s an employee and who’s an independent contractor. There was, and remains, no need for the ABC test that is written into S863 (formerly S4204/A5936), or for “codifying” that test (as Senator Steve Sweeney is so fond of saying).

For proof, look at all of the exemptions you and your fellow legislators are making for real estate professionals, accountants, travel agents and more. If none of us had any reason to be concerned, then why would all of these exemptions exist?

What I want lawmakers to do: The right thing. Toss out this poorly written legislation and go back to the drawing board with the IRS regulations. Equally important: Stop rushing this legislation through. The sense of urgency is completely manufactured.