How are paid interns classified under payroll?

August 31, 2015
How are paid interns classified under payroll?

Generally, paid interns with set hours should be treated the same as regular employees in terms of payroll. Paid interns should file a W4, and the payroll company should deduct state and federal taxes from their paycheck, just as they would for regular employees. Interns should be paid on the regular payroll cycle, as defined by your company's policy.

State the Differences in the Offer Letter

The only difference on paper between paid interns and employees is that an intern's offer letter should state the short-term nature of their role, in addition to any notes about benefits.

Independent Contractors

On rare occasions, paid interns can be classified as independent contractors. This is possible if their duties fit the definition of an independent contractor, meaning the intern is an individual who doesn't require supervision for their job, and provides their own tools for work.

Final Tips

Interns don't require a special payroll classification, and generally it's easiest to file them as regular employees.


Inspirational stories and on-the-ground perspectives shaping the future of work.

Start here

On-demand sessions

Start here

Is a PEO right for you? Take our assessment.

Start here
TriNet Team

TriNet Team

Best practices from our HR experts
Additional Articles
ESAC Accreditation
We comply with all ESAC standards and maintain ESAC accreditation since 1995.
Certified PEO
A TriNet subsidiary is classified as a Certified Professional Employer Organization by the IRS.5.