ECN Electrical Forum - Discussion Forums for Electricians, Inspectors and Related Professionals
ECN Shout Chat
ShoutChat Box
Recent Posts
What does your work place look like?
by Lostazhell - 12/01/20 03:44 AM
Where is Everyone?
by gfretwell - 11/30/20 04:12 PM
Happy Thanksgiving
by gfretwell - 11/30/20 04:04 PM
From an outsider- How does tipping work?
by gfretwell - 11/30/20 04:00 PM
Ground fault remover :-)
by dsk - 11/30/20 03:51 AM
New in the Gallery:
Facebook follies, bad wiring
FPE in Germany pt.2
Who's Online Now
0 registered members (), 20 guests, and 17 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Rate Thread
California referal fee legal question #183343 01/05/09 06:17 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 114
B
bwise121 Offline OP
Member
I've been approached by a local lighting company to do their installs for fixtures they sell. They only ask for a "referal fee." I wanted to see what other contractors have experienced with this sort of relationship and if this is legal in California.

Thanks,
Byron

Business, Office, Estimating, Legal:
Re: California referal fee legal question [Re: bwise121] #183346 01/05/09 08:58 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member
I'd check with both your accountant, AND the contractors' board as to how this relationship should be set up.

For example, if they are selling the job, then hiring you to do the work, this puts them in the position of being a general contractor ... for which they need to be licensed.

Or, conversely, suppose the salesman gets in a wreck ... are you on the hook for the workman's comp claim of your "agent?"

Maybe there's a legal way to do this, but you need to CYA.

Re: California referal fee legal question [Re: renosteinke] #183350 01/05/09 09:41 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 98
B
brsele Offline
Member
I do installs for a local lighting company.
The way that we work it is he sells the fixture(s) and gives them one of my cards.
Whether or not the customer uses my services is between the customer and myself.
The store owner's only concern is that he doesn't get any complaints about my service. If he does, then our relationship is terminated.
It's worked this way for a couple of years without any problems. He has happy customers. I have happy customers. Neither of us owes the other person anything.

Re: California referal fee legal question [Re: brsele] #183351 01/05/09 09:47 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,354
Trumpy Offline
Member
So Bruce,
Do you give an estimate as to what the work will cost?
How is the pricing sorted out?
Also, is this for totally new work or for retro-fits of new lighting in existing installations?

Sorry about all the questions, just curious.

Re: California referal fee legal question [Re: renosteinke] #183384 01/07/09 09:59 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 114
B
bwise121 Offline OP
Member
Accountant is a good thing to consider. The way I have been doing a few jobs for the lighting store is they sell the product and send me the name of the client. I contact them, bid the job and then do the work. They then pay the lighting store and the lighting store in turn pays me. The quote I give the customer includes the lighting store's mark up.
The lighting store now wants to have the customer pay me and then I pay the lighting store at the end of the month their mark up.
Question: Is that considered a "kickback" or referal fee? Difference and is it legal?

I certainly don't want to pay the taxes on the "mark up" as my income. So how do we classify this in accounting?

Thanks for your experiences!

Re: California referal fee legal question [Re: bwise121] #183389 01/07/09 10:23 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,218
HotLine1 Offline
Member
Anyone that I have paid, be it referral fees, or whatever received a IRS 1099. It was a expense for me, and income for the receiver of the fee.

Do you have an accountant? A good accountant is an important business asset!



John
Re: California referal fee legal question [Re: Trumpy] #183406 01/08/09 03:30 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 98
B
brsele Offline
Member
Originally Posted by Trumpy
So Bruce,
Do you give an estimate as to what the work will cost?
How is the pricing sorted out?
Also, is this for totally new work or for retro-fits of new lighting in existing installations?

Sorry about all the questions, just curious.


No problem asking questions... that's why we're on a forum, to learn from each other.

Most people do ask for estimates, but I do get the odd customer that justs wants it done and doesn't care how much it costs. Those people usually get charged less than people that ask for an estimate.
With an estimate, I assume the worst and charge accordlingly.

These jobs are replacement of existing light fixtures or adding lights where none existed before.

Orginally I approached the shop owner about doing installs for him. We agreed to try, but he made it perfectly clear that if he recommended me, then just one customer complaint and I was gone because he felt that if he recommended me, then problems would reflect badly on him.

In 2-1/2 years, never had one complaint. Its a win-win for both of us.

Bruce

Re: California referal fee legal question [Re: bwise121] #183489 01/11/09 07:42 AM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 36
R
ramsy Offline
Member
Originally Posted by bwise121
The lighting store now wants to have the customer pay me and then I pay the lighting store at the end of the month their mark up. ..I certainly don't want to pay the taxes on the "mark up" as my income. So how do we classify this in accounting?


If customers pay you, any future IRS red flag/audit can go back 5-years; to track fixture sales, lack of resale permit with CA State BOARD OF EQUALIZATION (BOE), lack of re-sale profit declaration for income taxes, and punitive fines for fraud and tax evasion.

The CA BOE legal department appeared clueless to my reasonable effort to find how building-trade contractors can best implement re-sale tax laws. They want to sell permits, not tell you how to avoid it. Further, there are different rules for each industry, its confusing, and perhaps unlikely the youthful clerks can master all of it.

They refered me to www.boe.ca.gov , pub9.pdf and pub73.pdf, which summarizes Cal_Bus_&_Prof_Code__7045 (resale permit laws for the building trades).

Supplier clerks aren't much better, deflecting me to business experts, or certified-public accountants specializing in my industry. Suppliers, aren't required to assume nor explain re-sale liability, especially if contractor's voluntarily assume the burden. IMO, Its a business strategy to stick someone else with the re-sale burden, which you previously appear to have done well.

Permitting and accounting burdens may be worthwhile for the right volume of fixtures/projects. Otherwise, getting customer/owners to buy fixtures themselves may be the only legal way to avoid accounting burdens, or re-sale taxes.


Roger Ramjet NoFixNoPay.info
Re: California referal fee legal question [Re: renosteinke] #183490 01/11/09 08:24 AM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 36
R
ramsy Offline
Member
Originally Posted by renosteinke
suppose the salesman gets in a wreck ... are you on the hook for the workman's comp claim of your "agent?" Maybe there's a legal way to do this, but you need to CYA.


Without any good contractor schools, or on-line courses to help, this appears to be another subject for the industry-specific lawyer.

All too often, without proper accounting/legal referral availing itself dependable, tradesmen in the wild may default to the school of hard knocks, hard audits, hard stings, or good luck.

There is no level playing field, where contractors play catch me if you can, much less when they finance local elections for public servants.


Roger Ramjet NoFixNoPay.info

Featured:

2020 National Electrical Code
2020 National Electrical
Code (NEC)

* * * * * * *

2020 Master Electrician Exam Preparation Combos
2020 NEC Electrician
Exam Prep Combos:
Master / Journeyman

 

Member Spotlight
HotLine1
HotLine1
Brick, NJ USA
Posts: 7,218
Joined: April 2002
Show All Member Profiles 
Top Posters(30 Days)
Trumpy 17
Popular Topics(Views)
272,155 Are you busy
206,034 Re: Forum
194,056 Need opinion
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.3