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Form I-9: Do I Need to Use One?

Date: February 19, 2014

In general, the answer is yes for a business with even one employee. There is no small business exception for the Form I-9. All employers must complete and retain Forms I-9 for every person they hire for employment on or after Nov. 6, 1986, in the United States as long as the person works for pay or other type of compensation.

The owner of a business might even need to complete a Form I-9 if the owner is employed by the business and was hired as employee after Nov. 6, 1986. Likewise, in a partnership, an owner hired by the partnership should complete the Form I-9.

Penalties for failure to complete and retain Forms I-9 range from $110 per form to $16,000 for repeat offenders.

Exceptions to Form I-9

  • Employees Hired on or before Nov. 6, 1986
If you hired your employee on or before Nov. 6, 1986, and still employ that person, you are not required to complete Form I-9 for that employee.

  • Casual Domestic Services
Form I-9 is not required for casual domestic services. “Casual domestic services” refers to individuals (such as a handyman, babysitter or cleaning person) paid by you to help in or around your private home, provided the services are:

•    Sporadic, meaning they occur occasionally, singly or in random instances;
•    Irregular, meaning the occurrence or activity lacks continuity or regularity; or
•    Intermittent, meaning that it does not occur continuously but instead comes and goes at intervals.

  • Independent Contractors
An independent contractor is not considered an employee for Form I-9 purposes and does not need to complete Form I-9. An independent contractor includes individuals or entities who carry on independent business, contract to do a piece of work according to their own means and methods, and are subject to control only as to results.

Remember, however, that federal law prohibits individuals or businesses from contracting with an independent contractor knowing that the independent contractor is not authorized to work in the United States.

  • Temporary or Staffing Agencies
In most cases, if your company uses a temporary or staffing agency to obtain workers, those workers are employees of that agency and provide service to your company as independent contractors. The agency completes a Form I-9 for each worker they provide to your company, because the workers are considered employees of the agency, not of your company.

For more information and tips for completing Forms I-9 visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website today.

Updated 02/19/14




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