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By Kristine Coyle, Accounting Services

If you are an employer, you may have asked yourself, “What is this Form I-9? How do I fill it out?” In the world of payroll preparation, the Form I-9 is one that we rarely see filled out correctly. This is understandable as many people may not even know what it is for.

The Form I-9 is a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form to document the verification of an employee’s authorization to work in the United States. You may be surprised to know that you could be fined for not having properly completed I-9 forms on file for your employees! But not to worry – this article will help you know step by step how to fill it out properly.

The first section of the I-9 form is to be filled out by the employee on the first day of employment. This includes basic information such as name, address, and date of birth.  Providing a social security number is optional unless the employer uses E-Verify.  The employee should sign and date the form for the date that it is filled out (which, again, should be the first day of employment).  If the employee used a preparer or translator, they should sign as well.

In case you are wondering, E-Verify is a website that cross-references the information on the I-9 with information from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.  It gives employers information on their employees in seconds. You can check it out at www.e-verify.gov

Employees should then be able to choose which documents to show to the employer as proof of right to work.  The I-9 form comes with this list. Employees can pick one document from column A, such as a U.S. passport, or a combination of one from B and one from C, such as a valid driver’s license and Social Security Account Number card.  Employers CANNOT require a certain kind of document be used.

Section two is filled out by the employer as the documents are examined.  You will need to fill out the parts on section two for the ID and the Employment Authorization.  Then make a copy of those documents for your file. After this, fill out and sign the signature portion of section two.  This section should be done within three business days of the first day of employment.

The third section is for rehires.  For example, if the I-9 the employee filled out two years ago was documented with a driver’s license that is now expired, you would put the new information in Section 3.

The I-9 and copies of documentation should be kept on file for either three years after the date of hire or one year after employment ended, whichever is later.  Not keeping the forms on file or not completing them could get you fines and penalties. If you need help with this form, please don’t hesitate to reach out to an accounting professional at any of our Larson and Company offices.