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Checklist for Hiring an Employee

There are many different tasks to be performed and a wide variety of state and federal paperwork to file when you hire an employee. Here we guide you through the steps you ll need to take.

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1) Determine whether the worker is an employee

If a worker is an employee, the requirements described in this checklist will apply whether the person is employed full-time or part-time. Before determining that a worker is not an employee it is advisable to consult with your attorney or with the appropriate federal or state agency.

2) Obtain federal employer identification number

File Form SS-4, application for Employer Identification Number, with the IRS. Apply online, by fax, or by mail. You only need to do this once, unless business ownership or form of organization changes.

3) Obtain Minnesota taxpayer identification number

You may apply online for a state taxpayer identification from the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Go to Tax Information for Minnesota Businesses. Register by phone by calling (651) 282-5225 or (800) 657-3605. You only need to do this once, unless business ownership or form of organization changes.

4) Obtain Minnesota workers‘ compensation insurance

Coverage is obtained through the employer‘s insurance company.

5) Obtain Minnesota unemployment insurance employer account number

Register online or by telephone at (651) 296-6141, option 4. Registration must be filed within 10 days after first wages are paid or if you have acquired, purchased, leased or assumed any part of an existing Minnesota business.

6) Verify compliance with immigration law

Complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Forms, online registration and more can be found at E-Verify.

Form I-9 is not filed with any government agency, but must be retained by the employer for three years following the date of hire or one year after the individual’s employment is terminated, whichever is later. The forms are open to inspection by the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Labor and Industry. Generally, a new Form I-9 must be completed each time an individual is hired within three business days of the employee’s first day of work.

7) Obtain employee withholding information

Federal Form W-4, Employee‘s Withholding Allowance Certificate, is used to determine the amount of federal income tax withholding and in most cases, the Minnesota income tax withholding. Minnesota form, W-4 MN, should be completed in addition to federal form W-4 in some situations. Employers are required to keep copies of completed federal Forms, W-4 or state Form W-4MN for their employees in their files. The forms serve as verification that federal and state income taxes are being withheld according to the employee’s instructions and needs to be available for inspection if the IRS or the state request it. You must send copies of Form W-4MN to the Minnesota Department of Revenue if the employee:

  • Claims more than 10 Minnesota withholding allowances
  • Claims to be exempt from Minnesota withholding and you reasonably expect to the employee’s wages to exceed $200 per week (Exception: if the employee is a resident of a reciprocity state and has completed Form MWR)

The Forms W-4 and W-4MN generally are  valid  until  the  employee provides new ones. However, employees who claim exemption from withholding must renew the exemption annually by filing new Forms W-4 or W-4MN by February 15 each year.

The Claims Resolution Act of 2012 requires all employers to report all newly hired, re-hired and returning to work employees to a state directory within 20 days of the date they are hired, re-hired or return to work. You file reports online with the MN Dept. of Human Services through their Minnesota New Hire Reporting Center.

Employers are required to ask all new employees whether they have court-ordered medical support or dependent insurance obligations that must be withheld from income, and the terms of any court order. If amounts for medical support must be withheld, the employer must do the appropriate withholding. If the employee is required to obtain dependent insurance the  employer  must tell  the  employee  about  the  application process and enroll the employee and the dependents in the plan. Employers are required to make such withholdings within a specific time period, and there are limits on the percentage of wages that can be withheld.

8 & 9) Withhold federal income tax and FICA tax and Minnesota income taxes

No specific form is required. These are accounting entries on the employer’s books. The amounts also must be listed on the employee‘s pay statement. The taxes are paid through periodic deposits and quarterly tax returns. Withholding must be done each time wages are paid.

10) Account for employer’s share of payroll taxes

Payroll taxes include the employer‘s share of the FICA (Social Security and Medicare) tax, federal unemployment tax (FUTA) and Minnesota unemployment tax. These are accounting entries made on the employer‘s books each time wages are paid. The taxes are paid through deposits or with quarterly or annual tax returns. These taxes must be deposited in a bank as specified by, or paid directly to, the Internal Revenue Service and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Electronic filing may be required. The accounting entries are made each time wages are paid.

11 & 12) Deposit withheld federal income tax, employer’s and employees’ share of FICA tax and federal unemployment tax (FUTA)

With few exceptions, electronic fund transfers are made using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System for all federal tax deposits. For federal income tax and FICA tax, the accumulated liability usually must be deposited monthly or semiweekly (or by the next day if the liability is $100,000 or more). FUTA tax deposits are made quarterly (by the end of the month following the end of the quarter), unless the amount of FUTA tax owed but not deposited is $500 or less. If the tax is $500 or less at the end of the quarter, no deposit is required. The tax is added to the tax for the next quarter.

13) Deposit withheld Minnesota income tax

Employers can make Minnesota tax deposits electronically using the Department of Revenue’s e-Services system; by telephone at 800- 570-3329; or by creating and mailing payment voucher. Some employers are required to pay electronically. Employers must deposit Minnesota withholding tax following a semiweekly or monthly schedule. For deposit schedule information, see the Minnesota Income Tax Withholding Instruction Booklet and Tax Tables available from the state Department of Revenue.

14) File federal quarterly withholding return or file employment taxes annually


15) File Minnesota quarterly withholding return

Returns may be filed online through the Department of Revenue's e-Services system  or by touchtone telephone at (800) 570-3329. A quarterly return must be filed even if the employer paid no wages subject to withholding, had no employees during the quarter or had not withheld tax.

16) File Minnesota unemployment insurance wage detail

All wage detail reports must be filed online with the MN Unemployment Insurance (UI) program. A quarterly wage detail report must be filed even if the employer paid no wages or had no employees during the quarter. 

17) File federal unemployment tax (FUTA) return

Form 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return must be filed annually, by January 31 of each year.

18) Provide Form W-2 to employee and others

Provide three copies to employees, one copy to the Social Security Administration and one copy to the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Employers keep one copy. 

Employers must complete Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement to report wages, tips and other compensation paid to an employee. A copy of this form must be given to the employee by January 31st after the end of the year. If the employee stops working for the employer and requests the W-2 before the January 31 deadline, it must be provided within 30 days following the request. Employers must also send a copy of the W-2 to the Social Security Administration (SSA) by February 28 each year. Employers can prepare and file up to 20 W-2s at a time on the Social Security Administration’s website and print out all the necessary copies.

19) Information returns, pensions and other payments

Employers who make payments to consultants, independent contractors, and others who are exempt from withholding may be required to provide a federal Form 1099-MISC to those individuals, and file the form with the Internal Revenue Service. Employers who pay pensions are required to issue Form 1099R to the recipients. The Internal Revenue Service and the Minnesota Department of Revenue have established special rules applicable to these situation.

Learn More

Consultants at our Small Business Assistance Office can help you understand more about all the factors you'll need to consider before you hire employees. And our network of Small Business Development Centers has experts located in nine main regional offices and several satellite centers statewide.

Our Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota covers this and An Employer's Guide to Employment Law Issues in Minnesota provide a deeper look at this and other issues that commonly arise in the workplace.

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