Updated on April 18th, 2023

How to report a company paying employees under the table?

A worker can report cash wage “under the table” by hiring an attorney or reporting to EDD. Before you say that the employer is paying under the table, you should ensure that it is illegal because it is not illegal if done correctly.

By: Brad Nakase, Attorney

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An employer paying under the table is not illegal. However, the employer is paying under the table to avoid employment taxes or under report In most instances, paying under the table is illegal because the employer also do not accurately report their company’s payroll. Generally, employers that pay cash under the table do not pay their fair share of tax, and employment insurance. Under Labor Code section 226, if you’re paid under the table, you may sue your employer, and entitled to money damages.  its number of employees, which is illegal. In California, failure to accurately report wages to EDD is unlawful and considered tax evasion for failure to pay payroll taxes. The consequences for paying employees under the table and not accurately reporting payroll taxes may result in a criminal conviction, civil fines and penalties.

Payroll tax evasion includes:

  • failing to file payroll tax returns
  • filing false payroll tax returns
  • paying employees in cash and not reporting it
  • misclassifying workers as independent contracts

Is it okay to get paid under the table?

In most instances, paying under the table is illegal because the employer also does not accurately report their company’s payroll. Generally, employers that pay cash under the table do not pay their fair share of tax and employment insurance. Under Labor Code section 226, if you’re paid under the table, you may sue your employer and be entitled to monetary damages.

Employers may be tempted to pay their employees under the table, whether to avoid tax obligations or to avoid paying for workers’ compensation insurance. However, it is illegal in California to pay employees under the table. If an employee believes their employer is paying them under the table or has failed to compensate them fairly for work performed, he or she should contact an experienced employment law attorney to report the transgressor.

In the state of California, it is illegal for employers to not report wages to the appropriate government agencies. By paying employees under the table, an employer is avoiding paying the required taxes, which is unlawful. An employer is required by law to withhold from an individual’s cash payments and pay their portion of the following:

  • State and federal income taxes
  • Social Security and Medicare (FICA)
  • State disability insurance (SDI)
  • State and federal income taxes
  • Workers’ compensation
  • State unemployment insurance (SUI)
  • Overtime compensation

If an employer pays an employee in cash and fails to account for the above employment benefits, then he or she may be held liable and should be reported for their wrongdoing. By failing to pay the necessary withholdings, an employer may incur a number of penalties.

Federal tax penalties require that an employer pay the sum of an employee’s unpaid liabilities. Employers illegally paying employees under the table may also have to pay $5,000 for each misclassified employee, in addition to 20% of the employee’s social security withholdings and 1.5% of the individual’s federal income tax liability.

It is also possible that there will be criminal prosecution. The IRS may wish to investigate the employer. Employers found guilty of tax evasion may go to jail for their crimes.

It should also be noted that any employee paid under the table also shares in certain risks. An employee who accepts money under the table may lose their eligibility for workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits.

What can you do if your boss pays you cash?

If your boss pays in cash, you can hire an employment attorney and sue for monetary damages. Our employment attorney will represent you with no upfront money from you. While it is not illegal for an employer to pay an employee in cash, it can make the payroll process more complex. It will be harder to pay an accurate amount of payroll taxes. According to California Labor Code Section 226(a), employee itemized pay statements must include the following information:

  • Total hours worked (except for salaried employees)
  • Gross wages earned
  • All deductions
  • Piece rate earned (if applicable)
  • Pay period
  • Net wages earned
  • Name and address of employer
  • Name of employee and last four digits of their Social Security number
  • Hourly rates

So, though an employer may pay his or her employees in cash in California, he or she is legally obligated to follow all employment laws when making cash payments. Employers must maintain accurate records since cash payments do not have a paper trail.

Can my boss get in trouble paying me in cash?

Because employers who pay wages in cash under the table, the employer might be avoiding their tax and insurance liabilities, paying employees cash under the table is unlawful. The IRS states there is nothing illegal about paying employees cash in hand as long as the employer takes out the appropriate deductions and accurately reports the cash wages to EDD and IRS.  Failure to report wages to any government agency in California is illegal and called tax evasion.

According to California Labor Code Section 226, an employee whose employer paid them cash under the table may be entitled to damages. If an employer did not follow the requirements regarding itemized pay statements, then he or she may have denied employees their deserved hourly and overtime pay.

What are the penalties for paying employees under the table?

The consequences of paying employees under the table include fines and penalties. In some cases, penalties for paying cash wages under the table may result in a criminal conviction. For employers paying employees cash wages under the table, the fines and penalties include the following:

  • Unpaid Wages

An employee who received pay under the table may file a wage claim against their employer if the employee did not receive the appropriate wages. This award also includes any overtime pay. If an individual earned overtime pay but the compensation turned out to eb the same as regular pay, then he or she is permitted to have the difference between the overtime pay rate and the regular pay rate.

  • Interest on unpaid wages

An employee paid under the table may be awarded interest on the unpaid wages. The rate of interest is set by the law. Rather than interest, an individual may look into earning liquidated damages. These damages are meant to compensate an employee for any losses that are hard to express in numbers.

  • Penalties on unpaid wages

Along with unpaid wages, the state of California enforces ‘waiting time’ penalties, which require employers to pay an amount equal to 30 days of unpaid wages. This waiting time penalty is equivalent to the worker’s daily pay rate for each of the days where wages were not paid.

  • Attorney Fees

It is possible that an employer guilty of paying under the table may have to cover an employee’s attorney fees if the employee wins their wage and overtime case.

If an employee suspects that their employer has denied them fair wages by paying them under the table, he or she should hire an experienced employment lawyer to report the transgression. It is important that an individual not allow an employer to dissuade them from pursuing a claim. He or she should report the employer and collect their deserved compensation.

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