W-9 vs W-4: how to find out that your employer violate the law

Employee-employer relationships and nonemployee contracting can be pretty intricate to differentiate, and unfortunately, a great number of individuals don’t know exactly where the line runs dividing these two coasts. There’re lots of precedents when theoretical employees are practically treated like independent contractors by their employers – even though it’s strictly against the law, lots of people have to face the situation like this due to lack of some crucial knowledge. So, now you’ve got to find out whether it’s okay when your employer slips a W-9 into your hands instead of a W-4.


Determine your status


It’s more than just important to know what you are even before considering being hired at all. Technically, an updated model of modern work relationships looks as follows: either you’re a contractor or you’re an employee. That’s it.


You might be wondering – what’s the difference anyway?

Remember these three key aspects:

  • Behavioral control. Are you asked to do your job in a particular way? Does anybody correct you on the method you use to perform the work? Does the employer dictate the instructions? If the answers are triple ‘yep’, you’re not a contractor for sure.
  • Financial control. Are you offered a flat fee, not a regular paycheck? Do you have control over fees? Can you negotiate the weight of paychecks? ‘Yeps’ again? Then you’re not an employee.
  • Longevity. Does the relationship between the two of you end after the job has been done? How permanently and regularly your services are provided? If you’re tied to a schedule, then you’re not a contractor.

Different blanks to fill out


Why do you need to care about the status?
Here’s why: if you’re hired as an employee with a schedule and patterns to follow, you must fill out a W-4 form, like this one. If you’re hired as a contractor, you must be handed a W-9, like this fillable 2019 W-9. The deal is that freelance workers don’t receive any benefits of official employment such as vacation pay or insurance. Besides, freelances are subject to self-employed taxation. As you can see, being misclassified has significant consequences.

What to do?


In case your work process looks like a freelance job, just print your W-9 form 2019 and don’t ask yourself why the boss didn’t give you a W-4. If you ended up misclassified , fill a SS-8 form that requires the IRS to determine your status. As soon as you’ve filed the blank, you can also do the same process with the 8919 to deal with all the uncollected taxes.