Q. We have a few college students who work for us during their summer break. According to the law, are they required to complete new employment paperwork (I-9, W-4, etc.) each year? — Marchia, Oklahoma
A. New W-4s must be completed every year if the employee claims to be exempt from income tax withholding (as might be the case with full-time students) because otherwise you’ve got to withhold at the highest rate set by the IRS. Otherwise, there is no need to update the W-4 from year to year—although the employees may want to do so to ensure that what is withheld is appropriate for them.
As for I-9s, you don’t need to obtain a new I-9 if the employment is seasonal and the individual reasonably expects to return. That’s because the federal government does not consider this a break in employment and therefore, the person is not a new hire. Read a summary of the regulations.
One I-9 caveat: If the employee submitted an I-9 supporting document that has expired between last summer and this summer, you will need to update the paperwork. The publication referenced above provides guidance on that, too.