BY NICHOLAS NEHAMAS
01/13/2015 7:39 PM
Taxpayers were cheated.
Workers were swindled out of a fair shake.
Law-abiding businesses were forced to cut corners or go belly up.
A year-long investigation by Miami Herald and McClatchy Newspapers published in September found all this and more in Florida’s construction industry during the recession.
Publicly available documents and interviews with workers around Florida showed that contractors broke state law and cheated on their taxes in order to get work on the federally financed projects that were the lifeblood of the building industry between 2009 and 2013.
Now the U.S. Department of Labor has announced an agreement with the state Department of Revenue to crack down on the accounting trick that bad actors use to evade taxes and cheat their employees.
The problem, known as “worker misclassification,” happens when companies treat their workers as independent contractors instead of permanent employees. The companies don’t withhold income tax or file payroll taxes on those workers. They don’t pay unemployment taxes.