AILA’s SSA Liaison Committee Clarifies Misconception on SSNs, Issues Reminders and Requests Member Feedback

AILA’s SSA liaison committee notes that contrary to popular belief, neither
immigration law nor federal tax law requires an individual to possess an SSN to
begin working. IRCA does not require an employee to present an SSN Card but,
rather, lists the Card as a possible “List C” document of work authorization.
Similarly, the Internal Revenue Code does not require an employee to possess an
SSN to begin working. It requires only that an application for an SSN be made
within seven days of commencing employment for taxable wages. 26 USC Section
6011; 26 CFR Section 31.6011(b)-2. Usually, the real obstacle to commencing
employment is the software of a third-party payroll preparer, which cannot
generate a paycheck without the number. Under these circumstances, if permitted
by its system, the preparer can use a “dummy” SSN solely to generate a paycheck,
provided the actual SSN or other required information is provided on the
information returns at the time of filing. Further instructions are on the SSA
website at www.ssa.gov/employer/

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