In-Home Care: Buyer Beware
By: Myles McNamara
The other day I was adding up all the money I could save by not purchasing car insurance, homeowners insurance, earthquake insurance, paying taxes, etc. The savings would mean nothing compared to the catastrophic results should an accident or disaster occur, or the dreaded audit. What many fail to realize is that these same dangers exist with families needing in-home care for themselves or a loved one. They may hire someone privately, or utilize an Independent Contractor agency, and not even be aware of their risks or responsibilities. Most of the examples I listed above are required by law. Unfortunately, some still choose not to abide. But, did you know that if you hire an Independent Contractor, or someone privately, to work in your home, by law you now become the employer of record and must deduct and submit payroll taxes, including disability and unemployment insurance.
You must also declare such items on your annual tax returns, signed under the penalty of perjury, for which there is no statute of limitations. With no statute of limitations, if and when these violations are discovered, with the cost of back payments, interest, fines and legal fees, it could significantly impact one’s estate. A great website to visit regarding these issues is www.4nannytaxes.com.
And the risks do not stop there. If a worker is injured while performing their duties, you are responsible for their immediate and long term medical expenses. Has a criminal background search been completed on this person you are entrusting your loved one to? There are predators out there looking for these types of employment opportunities. Risk of financial, physical or sexual abuse is a reality. I have seen instances where a family hired someone privately, referred by a friend, to care for a loved one, only to realize later that this person was not in the country legally, had gained access to checking accounts, valuables in the home, and even in one case had their name added to the deed to the home!
Now let me be the first to acknowledge and be sensitive to the fact that home care is costly. Unless there was foresight to purchase Long Term Care Insurance, home care cost is paid out of pocket. But, not being aware of the legal requirements, knowingly not complying, or to save a few dollars per hour, could prove more costly and catastrophic, not to mention the safety of our loved ones.
Please visit www.comfortkeepers.com for more information on choosing home care, and click the “All home care is not the same” banner.
Myles McNamara, Certified Senior Advisor and owner of Comfort Keepers In-home Care, providing assistance to seniors in the comfort of their own home. Offices located at 24355 Lyons Avenue, Suite 110. (661) 287-4200 www.comfortkeepers.com.