Hired Your First Employee? Your Tax Obligations
It’s a major milestone for you, but it comes with a lot of paperwork that must be done correctly.
Bringing a new employee into your business is reason to celebrate. You’ve done well enough as a sole proprietor that you can’t handle the workload by yourself anymore.
Onboarding your first worker, though, comes with a great deal of extra effort for you at first. You have to show him or her the ropes so you can offload some of the extra weight you’ve been carrying.
But first things first. Before your employee even shows up for the first day of work, you should have assembled all the paperwork required to keep you compliant with the IRS and other federal and state agencies.
A New Number
As a one-person company, you’ve been using your Social Security number as your tax ID. You’re an employer now, so you’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can apply for one here.
Once you’ve completed the steps in the IRS’s EIN Assistant, you’ll receive your EIN right away, and can start using it to open a business bank account, apply for a business license, etc.
You’ll also need an EIN before you start paying your employee. It’s required on the Form W-4. If you’ve ever worked for a business yourself, you’ve probably filled out this form. As an employer now, you should provide one to your new hire on the first day. When it’s completed, it will help you determine how much federal income tax to withhold every payday. If you’re not bringing in a full-time employee but, rather, an independent contractor, you won’t be responsible for withholding and paying income taxes for that individual. You’ll need to supply him or her with a Form W-9.
Note: Payroll processing is probably the most complex element of small business accounting. If you don’t have any experience with it, you’ll probably want to use an online payroll application. After you’re set up on one of these websites, you enter the hours worked every pay period. The site calculates tax withholding and payroll taxes due, then prints or direct deposits paychecks. Let us know if you want some guidance on this.
Don’t forget about state taxes if your state requires them, and any local obligations. The IRS maintains a page with links to each state’s website. You can get information about doing business in your geographical area, which includes taxation requirements.
You also have to be in contact with your state to report a new hire (same goes if you ever re-hire someone). The Small Business Administration (SBA) can be helpful here, as it is in many other aspects of managing a small business. The organization maintains a list of links to state entities here.
New employees must also prove that they’re legally eligible to work in the United States. To do this, they complete a Form I-9 from the Department of Homeland Security. As their employer, you’re charged with verifying that the information provided is accurate by looking at one or a combination of documents (U.S. Passport, driver’s license and birth certificate, etc.). By signing this form, you’re stating that you’ve done that.
You can also use the U.S. government’s E-Verify online tool to confirm eligibility.
A Helping Hand
The Department of Labor has a great website for new employers. The FirstStep Employment Law Advisor helps employers understand what DOL federal employment laws apply to them and what recordkeeping they they’re required to do.
Please consider us a resource, too, as you take on a new employee. Preparing for a complex new set of tax obligations will be a challenge. We’d like to see you get everything right from the start.