If my boss has yet to furnish a W-4 and no taxes have been pulled out of my paychecks, what can I do?

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If my boss has yet to furnish a W-4 and no taxes have been pulled out of my paychecks, what can I do?

I am worried because I don’t want to break the law and I know I’m required to pay taxes but my boss keeps ignoring my repeated requests for the W-4. Is there a way I can somehow ensure that I am at least hired as an independent contractor? What do I do? I have records of all the paychecks she has been providing me. What are my rights?

Asked on July 6, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are three different issues here:

1) If you are an employee (and not an independent contractor), your employer has certain tax obligations in regards to you, such as withholding for FICA. If the employer does not do this, he can get in trouble.

2) Whether you are an employee or independent contractor, you have your own tax obligations. If the money is not withheld and paid for you, you can pay it yourself--e.g as a quarterly estimated tax payment. You should speak to a tax professional (e.g. a CPA) about how to make sure to remit the proper taxes. At the end of the year, when you file your return, it will be reconciled; e.g. if you overpaid, you'll get a refund.

3) If you are an employee, not an independent contractor, you may be entitled to overtime, to having contributions made on your behalf to the unemployment insurance system, to benefits (e.g. health care), and to having the employer pay the employer part of tax for you (which will reduce your overall tax burden compared to that of an independent contractor). So apart from making sure you don't face tax liability, as per 2) above, you may be entitled to additional compensation if you are, or should be, treated as an employee, not an independent contractor. You may wish to speak to an employment attorney or contact the dept. of labor about his.


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