Hiring undocumented immigrants--when is it your problem?

Obviously, if I hire someone to be my employee at my place of business, paying them an hourly wage, I’m responsible for making sure they’re legally able to work in the US.

I strongly suspect that if someone comes by my house and offers to mow my lawn for $20, I’ve got no responsibility for getting their social security number.

What’s the criteria for making me responsible? I’ve looked at some relevant law, but i’m not sure what constitutes “hiring for employment.”


Seems that congresspersons have got into trouble for nannygate issues.

Great question, LHOD. Can I do a subtle hijack/tangential query?

Having recently hired a woman to clean my house once a month, I am curious as to the dollar amount at which reporting her income kicks in. I am paying $100 a month to her in cash. (BTW, I am in western PA and she doesn’t like Taco Bell, as it is “foreign food”)

A good place to start may be the IRS 20-step test to separate employees from independent contractors.

In both the lawn care and housekeeping examples given, it seems like the workers are actually running a business that serves many customers. This is different from a nanny, whose work is completely directed by one employer.

Aside from the illegal immigrant issue, perhaps more likely to actually affect you for hiring a casual worker “off the books” is workers comp for an injury. If they are truly in business for themselves, they should be providing their own WC insurance. If they are not, and can make a case that you are their employer (not their customer), you may be liable for their injury.

Check out this IRS Publication for the specifics about what qulifies as an employee and withholding info.

Here’s a blurb from an article found here about hiring a housekeeper. (From October 2005, in a San Diego publication)

ZipperJJ, that IRS document has some really good information; thanks for the link! I think that might contain the 20-point-test that Harriet mentioned.


My thanks also for the info, and to LHoD for allowing the hijack.