Though many websites offer downloadable or online I-9 forms in Spanish as well as in English, the IRS only validates the Spanish version of the form for Puerto Rican citizens, and the IRS requires the English version of the forms from residents of any other U.S. state or territory. Unfortunately, many farm owners make the mistake of using the Spanish version of the I-9 form instead before putting an employee on the farm payroll, which does not protect them, as the owners, from legal consequences.
Better manage your farm’s payroll by knowing what to do when it comes to Form I9. Given that some agricultural laborers speak Spanish exclusively, having them fill out the English form can cause them to make mistakes, which could subject farm owners to fines of up to $1,100 per form and criminal penalties for repeated offenses.
Improving the Accuracy of I-9 Forms for Spanish-speaking Employees
In order to improve the accuracy of the I-9 forms that Spanish-speaking employees fill out, the IRS allows farm owners to make use of a translator to prepare the documents. The translator can also aid the employee in understanding the purpose and importance of the I-9 document.
However, a person acting as a translator must adhere to the process the IRS describes for translation. A translator must:
- Confirm that the employee would not be able to complete the English I-9 accurately on his or her own
- Fill out the preparer/translator certification portion of Section 1 of the I-9 form
- Not be the employer or the person who would fill out Section 2 of the I-9 form
Alternatively, a farm owner could offer the Spanish version of the I-9 form to an employee and have the document translated and transferred onto the English version of the document at a later date. In this case, the employee must still sign Section 1 of the English form himself or herself, and the translator must still fill out the preparer/translator portion of Section 1.
Retaining the Correct Version of the I-9 Form
Note that the English version of the I-9 form is the only version of the form valid in U.S. territories other than Puerto Rico, and the English version must be kept on file either in paper form or electronically before the employee is established on the farm payroll and begins work.
We know that managing the tax forms and payment specifications in the agricultural industry can be difficult. Abacus Payroll provides an array of specialized payroll services to farms, wineries, and other agricultural businesses. For more information about how Abacus Payroll can make your farm’s payroll more efficient, call us today at (856) 667-6225.
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