Payment Decision Tree

The Payee/Payor Decision Assistant is a two-step process designed to provide you with the necessary tools to complete the proper paperwork for the payment you wish to make. First, you will be asked to determine the relationship between the payee (the individual who is being paid) and the payor (WSU). Second, you will be asked to identify the type of payment being made. Once you know the payee/payor relationship and the type of payment being made, you will be presented links to the appropriate sections of the WSU Business Policies and Procedures Manual.

Please review the following definitions to determine the relationship between Washington State University and the payee:


An employee is under the direction and control of the employer. The employer not only controls what is to be done, but the method by which it is to be done. The employer has the right to discharge or terminate an employee. There are three tests used to determine if an employee/employer relationship exists.

Independent Contractor

Characteristics include realization of profit or loss; working for more than one firm at a time; makes service available to the general public, has a significant investment in tools and materials; furnishes tools and materials for job.

Scholarship Recipient

An amount paid or allowed to, or for the benefit of, a student, whether an undergraduate or graduate, to aid such individual in pursuing his/her studies. Scholarships are awarded to WSU matriculating students based on need and/or merit (non-periodic payment). There is no expectation of prior, current or future service/effort. Scholarship amounts do not represent payment for teaching, research, or other services by the recipient required as a condition to receiving the qualified scholarship.

Fellowship Recipient

An amount paid or allowed to, or for the benefit of, an individual (WSU non-matriculating student) to aid him/her in the pursuit of study or research (periodic payment). There is no expectation of prior, current or future service/effort (non-wage). No services are required of the recipient of the fellowship. Example: non-student post doctoral research fellows. Fellowship payments to US Citizens and residents aliens are reportable on Form 1099.

Once you have determined the relationship between WSU and the payee, please continue to the next page, where you will be asked to identify the type of payment being made.

If, using the criteria from the previous page, you have determined that the payee/payor relationship is one of employee/employer, please select the type of payment:

If you have decided that the payee is not an employee, determine if he/she is an independent contractor. Again, the payee must meet the following criteria:
(1) Does the payee have realization of profit and loss?

(2) May the payee work for more than one firm?

(3) Does the payee have significant investment in materials and furnish such to perform services?

(4) Are the services available to the public at large?

(5) The payee is not a current WSU employee

If you answered yes to the above, the payee is an independent contractor.

If you have determined that the payee is neither an employee or independent contractor, select the appropriate type of payment from the following:

If you are still unsure how the payee should be classified, please contact the Payroll Office at 335-9575 or