Big News from the BACB: Registered Behavior Techs Must be W2 Employees

Behavior Technicians May Not be Independent Contractors in the U.S.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides definitions of two primary worker classifications. A worker is an employee when the company controls what duties will be performed and how they will be performed.
A worker is an independent contractor when he/she controls how the duties will be performed (e.g., which procedures are used). Behavior technicians – those who are certified (e.g., as an RBT) and those who are not – have increasingly advertised their availability to provide services as independent contractors. Because over 97% of RBTs reside in the U.S., we provide the following guidance.

The BACB defines an RBT as “a paraprofessional who practices under the close, ongoing supervision of a BCBA, BCaBA, or FL-CBA.” Because an RBT is not an independent practitioner with control over how his/her duties are performed, in the U.S. an RBT would almost never qualify as an independent contractor as definedby the IRS. Thus, any RBT who is working as an independent contractor and any business that hires RBTs as independent contractors should immediately consult a tax professional to confirm compliance with IRS regulations. The following resources might be helpful during this consultation:

• The July 20, 2017 IRS Interpretation of Employee vs. Independent Contractor (See FS-2017-09, U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2017).

• The California Association for Behavior Analysis (May 2018) interpretation of this issue.

In addition to this being a serious IRS matter, failure to use the appropriate worker classification for behavior technicians may constitute a violation of the Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts (e.g., section 1.04). In the event that a Code violation is alleged against you for mischaracterization of RBT services, the BACB will request a copy of the written opinion of a tax professional to demonstrate that appropriate due diligence was exercised in making the classification.

We strongly encourage RBTs who are practicing outside the U.S. to consult with a tax professional in their country to determine compliance with applicable employment laws”

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