If your clients have been exerting significant control over the way you work, they could be testing the definition of contracting. In general, you should play a significant part in all decisions that do not directly involve your finished work.
With high-profile misclassification cases in the courts, such as those against ride-sharing companies, it may be easy to overlook your own clients. However, the IRS is just as concerned about the way small businesses misclassify employees as it is about multi-national giants, such as Uber.
One of the main reasons for this concern is that businesses do not usually have to withhold employment taxes from payments made to independent contractors. If you have ever filed using a 1099 form, then you already know that the process is significantly different than it is for a part-time or full-time worker. Most notably, you would have no chance of getting a tax refund should your employer contribute too much from your wages.
The IRS supplies a concise definition of employment status. As an independent contractor, you should have relative freedom from:
- Behavioral control (such as imposed schedules or work locations)
- Financial control (such as prices and rates)
You should also have a relatively independent relationship with your client. This means that you should probably not be in a critical leadership role, and that the business would probably not have to provide employment benefits, for a couple of examples.
Of course, these are the most basic guidelines when it comes to employment classification. Your status may depend on many things, and you would likely have to take several factors together to get a working definition of what your classification should be. It is more of a balance, in most cases, than it is a matter of a single issue determining whether you should be an employee.
In summary, there might be something to your feeling that your employment status is incorrect. It would probably take a detailed investigation of your responsibilities and the relationship with your client to provide further information.