26 CFR 31.3121(b)(20)-1 - Service performed on a boat engaged in catching fish.
(a) In general. (1) Service performed on or after December 31, 1954, by an individual on a boat engaged in catching fish or other forms of aquatic animal life (hereinafter “fish”) are excepted from employment if -
(i) The individual receives a share of the boat's (or boats' for a fishing operation involving more than one boat) catch of fish or a share of the proceeds from the sale of the catch,
(ii) The amount of the individual's share depends solely on the amount of the boat's (or boats' for a fishing operation involving more than one boat) catch of fish.
(iii) The individual does not receive and is not entitled to receive, any cash remuneration, other than remuneration that is described in sub-division (1) of this subparagraph, and
(iv) The crew of the boat (or of each boat from which the individual receives a share of the catch) normally is made up of fewer than 10 individuals.
(2) The requirement of paragraph (a)(1)(ii) is not satisfied if there exists an agreement with the boat's (or boats') owner or operator by which the individual's remuneration is determined partially or fully by a factor not dependent on the size of the catch. For example, if a boat is operated under a remuneration arrangement, e.g., a collective agreement which specifies that crew members, in addition to receiving a share of the catch, are entitled to an hourly wage for repairing nets, regardless of whether this wage is actually paid, then all the crew members covered by the arrangement are entitled to receive cash remuneration other than a share of the catch and their services are not excepted from employment by section 3121(b)(20).
(3) The operating crew of a boat includes all persons on the boat (including the captain) who receive any form of remuneration in exchange for services rendered while on a boat engaged in catching fish. See § 1.6050A-1 for reporting requirements for the operator of a boat engaged in catching fish with respect to individuals performing services described in this section.
(4) During the same return period, service performed by a crew member may be excepted from employment by section 3121(b)(20) and this section for one voyage and not so excepted on a subsequent voyage on the same or on a different boat.
(5) During the same voyage, service performed by one crew member may be excepted from employment by section 3121(b)(20) and this section but service performed by another crew member may not be so excepted.
(b) Special rule. Services performed after December 31, 1954, and before October 4, 1976, on a boat by an individual engaged in catching fish are not excepted from employment for any voyage (for purposes of section 3121(b) and the corresponding regulations), even though the individual satisfies the requirements of paragraphs (a)(1)(i) through (iv) of this section, if the owner or operator of the boat engaged in catching fish treated the individual as an employee. For purposes of this subparagraph, the individual was treated as an employee if -
(1) Form 941 was voluntarily filed by the boat operator or owner, regardless of whether the tax imposed by chapter 21 was withheld. For purposes of this subdivision, the filing of Form 941 is not voluntary if the filing was the result of action taken by the Service pursuant to section 6651(a) (relating to addition to the tax for failure to file tax return or to pay tax);
(2) The boat owner or operator withheld from the individual's share the tax imposed by chapter 21, regardless of whether the tax was paid over to the Service; or
(3) The boat owner or operator made full or partial payment of the tax imposed by chapter 21, unless the payment was made pursuant to section 7422(a) (relating to no civil actions for refund prior to filing claim for refund). However, for purposes of this paragraph crew members whose services, but for paragraphs (a)(1)(i) through (iii), would have been excepted from employment by section 3121(b)(20) are not required to pay self-employment tax on income earned in performing those services. See § 1.1402(c)-3(g). Moreover, in such cases the employer is not entitled to a refund of the employer's share of any tax imposed by chapter 21 that was paid.