Everybody breaks the law at some point in their life. For most of us this means speeding, even if we don’t get caught. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone. If the speed limit is 55 mph, I think most people have no problem believing that actually means it’s OK to drive 64 mph, especially if that’s the flow of traffic. I certainly act this way and knock on wood, I haven’t gotten a ticket since 1994.

Fortunately most people don’t try to justify other minor criminal offenses like shoplifting. But there is one criminal offense that is committed every day by tens of thousands of people that is worse than petty shoplifting yet doesn’t cause most people to think twice about it. I’m of course talking about working for cash under the table.

When you do this, you and your employer are committing tax fraud. In fact, some studies have shown that if it weren’t for the lost revenue from this type of fraud, we’d be close to having a balanced budget.

Most workers will not get in trouble for this. The bigger legal risk is on the employer. Yet you do have some concerns. For example:

– If you get fired it will be near impossible in most cases to get unemployment benefits.
– You lose out on many worker protections under the law.
– If you are injured while working it makes it harder to prove you are actually an employee. If you can’t do that then you won’t be able to get workers’ compensation benefits. If you get a major injury you are screwed.
– It’s hard to show a job history to future employers.

There are many other things which could go wrong for you, but these are the big ones. It’s not as bad as it can be for an employer who gets caught as they could face huge fines or even jail time, but it’s still a risk for workers. I get that any job is better than none at all, but I can’t recommend enough that you avoid this situation if possible. Short term it’s probably great for you, but long term it’s often not worth it.