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I just started a new job and my employer made me fill out a W-4 form but after I worked a week I was paid in cash. What should I do? Why did I have to fill out a W-4 form?

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    You should also get a paystub that shows withholdings (taxes, medical insurance, 401K, etc). – DaveG Dec 10 '18 at 19:54
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    I think this is something you should ask your Manager and/or the HR department. Did they also ask you to provide bank account details? They would need that as well, if they were going to pay directly to an account. – Time4Tea Dec 10 '18 at 20:58
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Yes you should get a stub either in person or electronically.

If you weren't told about how you were to be paid, ask your employer/manger.

You want to have taxes withheld. The first thing to check is to see if anything was withheld for taxes or social security. If cash = hours x rate then they might not have had anything withheld.

It is possible if the pay was for a very small number of hours then withholding for taxes could be zero, or if you specified on the W-4 that you are exempt.

Social security and medicare are withheld unless you are working for a small number of employers or are working at your university.

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    And if you're getting paid in cash, make sure to get a receipt if you don't have a pay stub when you are actually paid. You don't want to find out you were underpaid and have no proof of how much money you were actually given. – David K Dec 10 '18 at 21:13
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    @DavidK - worse than that, the employee can only give evidence on what they were given, not what they weren't. Devil's Advocate: what happens when the business claims they gave out cash every week instead of every-other-week? The employee can't pull out a receipt that proves they weren't paid. – Kevin Dec 10 '18 at 21:41
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To be honest, getting paid in cash would be a possible red flag.

One very large incentive for a business to deal in cash is that it becomes easier to 'hide' from taxes. For instance, a lot of cash purchases in small businesses are never actually reported to the government Keep in mind, one door that is opened for a business that pays in cash is forgoing paying your payroll tax. Aka, the tax that the employer pays to the government. Them doing this removes the credits you get for Social Security and Medicare (so even if nobody gets caught, you get screwed in the long run.) I'd seriously suggest reading this, as it details some of the issues you might run into

I'm not saying this business is shady - there might be a legit reason why this happened. But... I'd definitely take a very close look at what's going on with your pay. Like others mentioned, are there taxes being withheld? Do you have a statement that indicates the amount that is being given to you? Is the 'cash' thing temporary due to your just starting to work there, or are they planning on paying cash for each pay period?

  • Yeah, the more I think about this, the more I think the OP needs to talk with the owner (if a small company) or HR ASAP. Unless this is a "We pay in cash for the first week, since it usually takes us awhile to get the payroll software loaded", this almost has to be a bad faith situation. – Kevin Dec 10 '18 at 21:44
  • I believe you can still report this income to the IRS and pay your social security/medicaid etc. at that time. Social Security and Medicaid have work requirements. you need to have employment exceeding a certain dollar amount in 10 different years to be eligible. – Bill Leeper Dec 12 '18 at 20:13
  • There's a difference between the paycheck deductions that get taken off your paycheck, and the payroll taxes that your employer is responsible for paying (which are typically kept hidden from the employee.) – Kevin Dec 12 '18 at 21:02
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Yes, wage payments in cash are not illegal (or problematic on their own).

As has been said, make sure you get a pay stub or some other document that lists your salary, hours paid, deductions, witheld taxes etc.

If the cash you receive matches that documents bottom payout line and all the necessary deductions have been made, you're fine with cash payments.

Since the most inconspicuous payment is with a paper trail, you could ask them to give you cheques or make a wire transfer.

If they ask why you can say you're uncomfortable carrying that much cash around or something alike.

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I just started a new job and my employer made me fill out a w-4 form but after I worked a week I was paid in cash what should I do? Why did I have to fill out a w-4 form?

The legally required W-4 form is used to compute how much should be withheld from your wages for tax purposes. It has nothing to do with how you are paid (by check, direct deposit, or cash).

There is nothing for you to do here regarding that form.

If you prefer, you can ask your employer if you will continue to be paid in cash, or if you will eventually receive a check.

Although unusual these days for many professions, it is not illegal to pay employees in cash. As long as all the taxes are reported and paid, paying in cash is fine. Employers are generally not even required to provide paystubs with each payment, although access to that information must be provided (often electronically).

Talk to your employer to find out how they intend to proceed.

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    -1 I don't agree with "There is nothing for you to do here." If they are paying in cash I'd be worried that they aren't paying social security taxes and the like, which would be screwing her over. – Jim Clay Dec 10 '18 at 20:19
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    To be honest, if the employer said "We're going to continue paying in cash", I'd have a hard time believing they were above-board. Or financially sound. Or even legally sound. – Kevin Dec 10 '18 at 21:46

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