Worker Classification

Each individual service provider (“worker”) must be properly classified as an employee or independent contractor in accordance with federal and state tax and employment laws. Departments that engage workers must submit the required documentation for determination of each worker's status before any services are performed or payment requests are processed. Note this form needs to be filled out by internal GW departments. The worker should not fill out this form nor should a copy be shared with the worker. All individuals who perform services for the university are presumed to be employees unless the relationship satisfies Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standards for independent contractor status. The evaluation must be based upon IRS standards and not upon administrative ease, budget constraints or funding guidelines. 

The primary difference in these two business relationships is that employees are paid through payroll and the university must withhold income and employment taxes, while an independent contractor is paid via accounts payable without tax withholding. The Worker Classification and Payment Policy (PDF) outlines GW policy and procedures related to worker classification and payments.

Completing the Necessary Forms

If the department wishes to hire a worker as an independent contractor, then the following forms must be submitted to the Tax Department as instructed at the top of the form prior to engaging the worker and before services are performed so that the correct worker classification can be determined:

  1. Worker Classification Review (doc) (please review the Worker Classification Review Exemptions (PDF) in case there is an exception to using the form). NOTE: Effective 2017, the Worker Classification form is no longer used for work to be conducted outside the U.S. Departments wishing to engage workers to perform services overseas must follow the process outlined on the International Hires and Placements website.
  2. Copy of scope of work or draft agreement, if available

Keep in mind that the Worker Classification Review is generally valid for 2 years if there have been no significant changes to the relationship. Renewal forms should be submitted with the renewal box checked along with the vendor number.

The GW employee directly responsible for the work to be performed by the service provider should complete the Worker Classification Review. Certifications by administrative staff and others with insufficient knowledge of, or responsibility for, the specific work to be performed are not appropriate.

Note this review is for worker classification only for tax purposes. Any other requirements, such as contract or insurance, should be handled by the appropriate department. In addition, supplier registration documents and invoices should not be sent with the form.

Final Determination

The IRS presumes that every worker hired to perform services is an employee unless the IRS threshold for contractor status is met.

The Tax Department will return a signed Worker Classification Review with the determination to the department.

The time period for review is 3 business days (excluding holidays and weekends). So if a form is received on a Monday, then the review will be completed and result communicated back to the department by Thursday assuming complete information was provided.

If the worker is approved as an independent contractor and a US vendor, then the department should submit a signed copy of the Worker Classification Review to isupplygw@gwu.edu. The vendor will need to self-register via the iSupplyGW portal. If approved and a non-US vendor, submit the approved form with the W-8BEN (PDF) and Supplier Registration Package (available on the Procurement website) to isupplygw@gwu.edu in order to set up the vendor. Once set up, the department can submit payment information to Accounts Payable per normal procedures.

If the worker is not approved as an independent contractor, then the department should proceed to hire the individual as an employee. Consult with your Human Resources Client Partner with regards to the hiring process.