"Rare is the case that an employer actually needs an SSN. Indeed the Social Security Administration admits the numbers are actually their property and further that “no one needs an SSN to work in the United States.”
This latter fact isn't widely known, but NOT knowing and demanding an SSN where no authority to demand exists could get the employee demanding same, and his employer, involved in a civil action. Our recommendation is frankly to not push the SSN issue with employees. If an employee provides an SSN even on taxation forms it should only be done voluntarily and with NO adverse actions taken in case he refuses.
Form I-9: To our knowledge the only spot that asks for an actual SSN (and not an implied TIN) is on form I-9. However nothing in the law actually states the employee must provide the number. Because primarily government forms are intended for government employees, the majority of "spots for information" are considered voluntary when used by the general population NOT engaged in federal employment.
A twist: Indeed, the restrictions of public law regarding I-9 disclosures can actually RESTRICT the employer from using that number on ANY other form. In other words, do not assume you have the employee's permission to use that number on any other form or in any other way simply be virtue of its disclosure on Form I-9. You could possibly be in violation of the laws behind Form I-9!
Form W-4, Form W-2, Form W-3 and Form W-9:
Let's examine W-4 first. The title of the form identifies it as an "allowance" certificate. Its only purpose is as a permission slip to ALLOW the non-governmental employer to withhold, (take) some money from the employee's compensation on behalf of government. If you think that ALLOWANCE implies a voluntary-act, you are correct! If the form is voluntary for those outside governmental employment, then what of its content including the spot for a number? We repeat: The submission of a W-4 form or any other alternative AND ITS CONTENTS is considered a voluntary act!
Common sense will dictate that one cannot make demands on behalf of government for:
(1) a form signed under oath, with:
(2) a severe penalty of perjury jurat for non truth when:
(3) someone is simply exchanging labor for compensation and when:
(4) the person demanding is not an authorized withholding agent of government.
Hint: Were you given a badge or written delegation of authority?
BEWARE: The IRS has consistently confused these two definitions especially in their publications and forms. Unfortunately-- as employers on our distribution list have identified--the IRS does not come to the aid of employers relying on IRS publications; the IRS is under the Executive Branch of government and that branch does NOT make law.
Thus, non-governmental employers make a BIG mistake if they automatically convert or assume one number for the other without the expressed permission of the employee. It is better to err on the side of safety and to simply refuse to "do the work of government”: In a government-declared "system of voluntary compliance by the making of a return", the non-governmental employer is without authority to create a "taxpayer": that responsibility is left to another. Our recommendation is that you as an employer should NOT attempt to "create taxpayers" from non-governmental employees.
REMEMBER: NON-GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYERS CAN ONLY REQUEST AND NOT DEMAND!
Remember that the SSN is not "owned" by the employee and further your "need" is only to satisfy his benefit if he chooses to participate in government Social Security insurance and the government withholding program. Thus, if an employee refuses to include an SSN on any government form, that right is his own. These forms are creations of government and their existence and content cannot be made mandatory outside those in government employment.
Further, you need not inquire of his reasons. His reasons might range from religious "mark" aspects to simply never applying for an SSN or to not wanting to be forced to make an oath under penalty. And you as an employer have NOTHING to fear from not including an SSN on any government form you submit to government.
The fine for EACH employee is $50 and this can be waived by simply including this statement on the "transmittal document" you send with Form W-2 and W-3: "I requested an SSN [or Form W4]. This non-federal employee did not provide the number [or Form W4]. To my knowledge he is not a federal employee or government "individual" nor does he engage in federal (26 USC) "trade or business".
No law compels a work eligible man or woman to submit a form W-4 or W-9 (or their equivalent), nor disclose an SSN as a condition of being hired or keeping one's job.
With the exception of an order from a court of competent jurisdiction issued by a duly qualified judge, no amounts can be lawfully taken from one's pay (for taxes, fees or other charges) without the worker's explicit, knowing, voluntary, written consent.
Section 7 of Public Law 93-579 provides that:
(a)(1) It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose Social Security account number.
There is no law requiring you to obtain or use the Social Security Number. The Social Security System is a voluntary System. The Social Security Act does not require a person to have an SSN to live and work in the United States of America, nor does it require an SSN simply for the purpose of having one.
If there was a law for the SSN, why does a major food chain, Taco Bell, have "optional" printed by the SSN on their applications?
The IRS only requires the employer/payer to request the SSN. If the employee/payee refuses to give or doesn’t have an SSN, the employer sends an affidavit to the IRS stating that they requested the SSN and the employee refused, (Indemnification Letter). The penalties will not be assessed against the employer.
Nowlin vs. D.M.V. 53 Cal. App. 4th 1529 Apr. 2, 1997
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