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Massage Today
June, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 06

We Get Letters and E-mail

By Editorial Staff

Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be edited for space and clarity, and published in a future issue or online.

Please send all correspondence by e-mail to or regular mail to:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4139
Huntington Beach, CA 9260

Success with the IRS

Dear Dixie:

Your article on the IRS regarding independent contractors or employee has shed some new light on the same problem I am having at the office where I practice massage. There are seven massage rooms and each one of us is practicing as an individual contractor. Several of the guidelines that you point out are what we follow, but there are still unanswered questions as to whether we can continue as individual contractors. The owner recently purchased the clinic from a previous owner (who operated it the same way she is doing). I guess we're all trying to figure out how to do this right.

Example: I've been there for 5 yrs. I have MY own room which contains all of MY furnishings (table, sheets, oils, CD, stereo, hot stones, etc.) All decorations are MINE. I do MY own laundry. I do all MY own insurance billings and payments are issued in MY name. I collect all payments for cash clients (except for credit card payments which are through the owner and she reimburses me). I pay $8 per 1/2 hr.; $17.50 per 1 hr.; and $25.50 per 1 1/2 hr.; which I pay each week according to how many hours I worked.

I pay the hourly rent for the insurance clients when I receive payment from the insurance company.

Her receptionist schedules the appointments (according to MY time available) and I have some of my own that I schedule. This is how the whole clinic is run and everyone working there is doing all of the above that I mentioned. The clinic is an Inc. and I recently made myself an Inc., too.

In your article, you also mentioned The Licensee System which utilizes an outside company as a middleman between therapists and their clients. Is there any information on this? I would appreciate any further information you could help us with.

Serena B.
Via e-mail

Dear Serena:

After speaking with a couple of experts on the subject, I have some really good news for you. Basically, you're in the clear and in a great place' for two reasons. One being that the 3-way flow of funds is in good order. Secondly, incorporating your personal business is beneficial in many ways including tax write-offs, not using a 1099 and protecting personal assets.

"The key issue is the patient pays the therapist, and the therapist pays the business," said Ahmos Netanel, President of Lucrative Wellness, a business consulting firm for the wellness industries. However, it's always better to, "keep things simple when you can," said Michael Schroeder, Vice President of the American Massage Council. Instead of using the term independent contractor, Schroeder suggests, "try further establishing the tenant/landlord relationship through a straight written, bonafide lease stating exactly what you pay as a tenant for each hour." The only other suggestion I have is to make sure you are selling your own gift certificates and using your own credit card machine, not the establishments. Always proceed on the error of caution and contact a certified tax accounted and/or lawyer to avoid any unnecessary pitfalls.

- Dixie Wall

Responses to "Put Your Hands on Your Monitor, Part One"

Editor's Note: The following is from Ralph Stephens regarding his column in the May 2006 issue of Massage Today, "Put Your Hands on Your Monitor, Part One,"

"One poorly constructed sentence in my May column has caused serious misunderstanding and alarm in some people. I assure you I was NOT attacking the disabled or the ADA in any way. It was never in my mind to equate the disabled with alcoholism or drug abuse. I absolutely support the ADA and the right of handicapped individuals to be accommodated in whatever ways can support their learning and employment. I am sincerely sorry if I have offended any handicapped or disabled individual or in any way have cast them in a negative light. Please accept my apology. It is heart felt and sincere."

- Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB

Dear Leslie:

Thank you for writing and expressing your concerns regarding my column in Massage Today. I appreciate you sharing your concerns. I am so sorry we have such a misunderstanding. I am writing to help you understand what you mistakenly believe to be my "very biased and distorted opinions."

Please pay very close attention. I am NOT attacking the disabled or the ADA. You are making some extremely invalid assumptions about me and about my intentions and generalizing them onto Massage Today. Further, I am not demeaning this nation's educators. If you read the article carefully, you will clearly see I commended and exempted the good ones. You will also see that it was politicians and bureaucrats I dismissed as corrupt.

It was never in my mind to equate the disabled with alcoholism or drug abuse. I am sad and hurt that you have made that assumption. When I wrote that sentence, I truly thought the commas separated each group. The groups listed came from documents circulating from CCA schools about planned strategies to eliminate the classroom-hours requirement in massage education. I found their strategy to be quite offensive as well as an abusive, exploitive, self-serving, and inappropriate use of the ADA.

Obviously, from your reaction, my wording was not clear. After considering the sentence in light of your letter, I can see how it could be taken wrong and how it could be offensive. It should have been two separate sentences to avoid any potential confusion on such a sensitive and important issue.

I am sincerely sorry if I have offended you or any other handicapped or disabled individual. Please accept this apology. It is heart felt and sincere.

I assure you I am not the reason the ADA and the IDEA had to be written, nor is Massage Today. I do believe in the rule of law. I believe the classroom-hours standard is currently the law in effect in most licensed states.

Massage schools must already meet the ADA and if this was just about the disabled, I would join you and champion the idea of an exemption for the disabled from the classroom-hours requirement for many lecture courses. I suspect the ADA already provides that exemption by its very nature. What is being asked for is the elimination of all classroom-hour requirements for all students. This is not for the good of the students or the profession. It is the coldly calculated exploitation of the handicapped, using the ADA selfishly for the economic good of schools. This is what you should be appalled over, not one poorly constructed sentence in my column.

I am well aware of the ADA and I think it covers special needs massage students right now and probably overrides the classroom standard, but only for those special needs students. I am hearing impaired and am familiar with impaired technologies. I went to massage school with a sightless therapist (pre-ADA). I have supported over a dozen handicapped therapists in my continuing education seminars. I worked the International Disabled Skiing Championships. I am not insensitive to the handicapped. That is why I am appalled at the shameless abuse of the ADA by career colleges to eliminate classroom hours for non-special needs students. There are many other legitimate ways for career colleges to change educational standards without misusing the ADA. Such misuse of a wonderful program like the ADA potentially creates resentment toward the handicapped and backlash against the ADA and programs like it, thus marginalizing them in the public opinion.

Again, I assure you that I support your efforts to guarantee special needs students access to whatever learning technologies are needed to support their educational needs. In no way am I challenging this access. I support this access and will proudly help you defend it, especially if you ever find it in jeopardy in the massage profession.

By the way, it is fine that you disagree with me. It is through debate and discussion of differing opinions that we all learn and grow.

So, call off your e-mail and letter campaign, as what you are doing is just as offensive and detrimental to Massage Today and me as what you perceived I did to disabled people, actually worse.

I would very much like to talk to you about this misunderstanding. I look forward to speaking with you so we can clear up these misunderstandings and hopefully work together to help the disabled who desire to access the wonderful opportunities of the massage profession.

Ralph R. Stephens


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