How to Use a PO Box on Payroll Checks

How to Use a PO Box on Payroll Checks
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A post office box, or PO box, address is the postal service that provides a mailing address through the USPS (U.S. Postal Service). A PO box is not a physical address where an individual can reside. A PO box is only a mailbox address for receiving mail. This can limit the benefits of using a PO box for personal use.

Employers require key general information such as a Social Security number, phone number and address. This is often requested when a candidate is filling out a job application. Most people with some work experience will be familiar with these requirements. There are good reasons why employers ask for your street address separately from a mailing address.

Is a PO Box Address Valid for Work?

At some point in the hiring process, an employee or potential employee will be asked for their residential address and/or mailing address. Taxes and health benefits are two reasons an employer will need your home address. Incorrect or inaccurate information can create tax discrepancies and other issues.

As a W-2 employee, your employer must withhold and pay state or local taxes on your payroll wages, explains the IRS. Benefits like health insurance are also location-bound. Therefore, you may receive your payroll check at your PO box number, but your employer will still need to know your physical and current address.

The IRS mentions that self-employed or W-9 contractors are a bit different because they typically do not have eligibility for unemployment or benefits. They also they share the FICA tax burden with a contracting business. The check will be directed to the business address associated with the entity or taxpayer, even if it is a mailbox.

Does a Street Address Matter?

A residential address provides a layer of security for employers to mail payroll checks and for financial institutions that cash checks. A street address provides a way to contact the check payee in case of any problems with the check. It also provides a level of assurance that the check will safely reach its intended recipient within any legally mandated timeframes.

You may have been employed for a while and need to update your address. It is a good idea to review a W-4 yearly for accuracy, even if you do not need to change your address. You will want to verify that your employer will accept a post office box as your address. You may also fill out a USPS change of address form to have all your mail (paychecks included) forwarded to a PO box.

Contact the human resources department or payroll division to find out the company's rules and regulations regarding the use of a post office box as an address. You may be able to use it to receive your payroll check, but you may also need to keep a physical address on file to meet certain requirements.

Cashing a Check Addressed to a PO Box

If you have direct deposit or intend to deposit a payroll check into a checking account, you probably won't encounter issues. However, a bank is under no obligation to cash any check for non-customers. A non-customer may be assessed a check-cashing fee and/or receive the payment on a debit card.

Many check-cashing businesses will not honor a check addressed to a PO box, especially if it does not match the address on your identification. The best option is to contact the bank or check-cashing service to ask before attempting to cash a check.

The IRS will allow the use of a PO box address on a tax return. If an individual elects to receive a paper check tax refund and uses a PO box on the return – that is where the check will be mailed. Be aware that the IRS only permits the use of a PO box if you cannot receive mail at your physical home.