Carnegie Mellon University

Independent Contractor Frequently Asked Questions

An independent contractor is an individual or sole proprietor who is going to perform work for the university utilizing their own methods, whose work is not controlled by Carnegie Mellon University and who are normally engaged in an established business, trade or profession.  An employee is an individual who performs services for the university and the university has control over the details of what and how it will be done.  An independent contractor is not an employee of Carnegie Mellon and is treated differently with respect to tax withholdings, employee benefits and payment methods. Visit the Independent Contractors vs. Employees page for more information.

The department that is interested in an individual performing a service for Carnegie Mellon should complete the Independent Contractor Checklist [.pdf] and answer the questions based on the individual's facts, circumstances and type of work. For assistance with the completion of the checklist, they should contact the Human Resources Compensation Office at

  1. If a department is interested in an individual performing services at Carnegie Mellon, they should first contact the University Contracts Office (UCO) at to discuss whether an Independent Contractor Checklist (ICC) needs to be completed and to start the contract process.
  2. The department will complete the Independent Contractor Checklist [.pdf], providing the necessary information and answering the questions regarding the individual who will potentially provide services to Carnegie Mellon.
  3. The completed ICC will be submitted via email to the Compensation Office at Additional information may be requested by the Compensation Office or Taxation during the review process.
  4. Once the ICC is approved by Compensation Office and Taxation, Taxation will provide the approved ICC to Accounts Payable and the UCO to continue the setup process.

If an individual cannot be hired as an independent contractor, they will be notified by the Compensation Office or Taxation.

The University Contracts Office or Accounts Payable will provide an email reminder asking you if you have completed the Independent Contractor Checklist [.pdf] and received approval from the Compensation Office and Taxation.

The purpose of an Independent Contractor Checklist [.pdf] is to assist Carnegie Mellon's schools and departments in determining whether an individual performing service should be an employee or an independent contractor.

The university department/buyer that is engaging with the individual or sole proprietor, not the independent contractor.

No. The Independent Contractor Checklist [.pdf] should be completed and signed by the university representative.

The completed Independent Contractor Checklist [.pdf] should be submitted to the Compensation Office at

The Independent Contractor Checklist [.pdf] is reviewed by the Compensation Office and Taxation daily. Departments should allow for at least a two-day turnaround.

Yes. It is preferred that the Independent Contractor Checklist [.pdf] be submitted to the Compensation Office via email at

No. The Independent Contractor Checklist [.pdf] would only need to be completed for the same independent contractor if the scope or type of work that is being performed has changed.
The IRS establishes 20 factors as guidelines in determining a worker's status.  Not all 20 factors are applicable in every situation and the degree of importance of each factor depends on the type of work and specific facts and circumstances.  All relevant factors are considered in making a determination and no one factor is decisive.