For years the NFL has treated its 70+ Drug Program Agents [DPA's], who collect urine samples for the drug testing program, as independent contractors. The IRS recently ruled that the DPA's are league employees, not independent contractors. Here's the story as reported by the New York Daily News.
Although the financial impact of the IRS ruling has not been established, it reportedly could cost the NFL tens of millions of dollars for employment taxes, pension contributions, and other benefits that should have been paid to the DPA's over the years.
The NFL's reaction probably is "can't we use instant replay to take another look at this?"
The employee – independent contractor distinction continues to arise in many business contexts. Microsoft, for instance, was rather famously impaled on the distinction a few years ago. Many business — of all sizes — use independent contractors. If your business is one of them, be sure to have your workers properly classified in case the IRS comes knocking. You don't even have instant replay. And few have NFL-style money to set right what was done wrong.