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Aug 16 2016
Have A Household Employee? Be Sure To Follow The Tax Rules

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Many families hire people to work in their homes, such as nannies, housekeepers, cooks, gardeners and health care workers. If you employ a domestic worker, make sure you know the tax rules.


Important distinction


Not everyone who works at your home is considered a household employee for tax purposes. To understand your obligations, determine whether your workers are employees or independent contractors. Independent contractors are responsible for their own employment taxes, while household employers and employees share the responsibility.


Workers are generally considered employees if you control what they do and how they do it. It makes no difference whether you employ them full time or part time, or pay them a salary or an hourly wage.


Social Security and Medicare taxes


If a household worker’s cash wages exceed the domestic employee coverage threshold of $2,000 in 2016, you must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes — 15.3% of wages, which you can either pay entirely or split with the worker. (If you and the worker share the expense, you must withhold his or her share.) But don’t count wages you pay to:

 

  • Your spouse,
  • Your children under age 21,
  • Your parents (with some exceptions), and
  • Household workers under age 18 (unless working for you is their principal occupation).

 

The domestic employee coverage threshold is adjusted annually for inflation, and there’s a wage limit on Social Security tax ($118,500 for 2016, adjusted annually for inflation).


Social Security and Medicare taxes apply only to cash wages, which don’t include the value of food, clothing, lodging and other noncash benefits you provide to household employees. You can also exclude reimbursements to employees for certain parking or commuting costs. One way to provide a valuable benefit to household workers while minimizing employment taxes is to provide them with health insurance.


Unemployment and federal income taxes


If you pay total cash wages to household employees of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter in the current or preceding calendar year, you must pay federal unemployment tax (FUTA). Wages you pay to your spouse, children under age 21 and parents are excluded.


The tax is 6% of each household employee’s cash wages up to $7,000 per year. You may also owe state unemployment contributions, but you’re entitled to a FUTA credit for those contributions, up to 5.4% of wages.


You don’t have to withhold federal income tax or, usually, state income tax unless the worker requests it and you agree. In these instances, you must withhold federal income taxes on both cash and noncash wages, except for meals you provide employees for your convenience, lodging you provide in your home for your convenience and as a condition of employment, and certain reimbursed commuting and parking costs (including transit passes, tokens, fare cards, qualifying vanpool transportation and qualified parking at or near the workplace).


Other obligations


As an employer, you have a variety of tax and other legal obligations. This includes obtaining a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) and having each household employee complete Forms W-4 (for withholding) and I-9 (which documents that he or she is eligible to work in the United States).


After year end, you must file Form W-2 for each household employee to whom you paid more than $2,000 in Social Security and Medicare wages or for whom you withheld federal income tax. And you must comply with federal and state minimum wage and overtime requirements. In some states, you may also have to provide workers’ compensation or disability coverage and fulfill other tax, insurance and reporting requirements.


The details


Having a household employee can make family life easier. Unfortunately, it can also make your tax return a bit more complicated. Let us help you with the details.

Last Updated by Admin on 2016-11-16 02:02:36 PM

 

Richard Camp, CPA, PA blogs and all other multimedia content is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial tax, accounting, legal, consulting or any other type of advice regarding any specific facts and circumstances, nor should they be construed as advertisements for financial services.  Because accounting standards, tax law, and technologies are constantly changing, content in this blog could contain outdated information.

 

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this website (or in any attachment) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this website (or in any attachment).

 

Richard Camp, CPA, PA blogs and all other multimedia content is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial tax, accounting, legal, consulting or any other type of advice regarding any specific facts and circumstances, nor should they be construed as advertisements for financial services.  Because accounting standards, tax law, and technologies are constantly changing, content in this blog could contain outdated information.

 

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this website (or in any attachment) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this website (or in any attachment).

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Richard Camp, CPA, PA blogs and all other multimedia content is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial tax, accounting, legal, consulting or any other type of advice regarding any specific facts and circumstances, nor should they be construed as advertisements for financial services.  Because accounting standards, tax law, and technologies are constantly changing, content in this blog could contain outdated information.

 

IRS CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this website (or in any attachment) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed in this website (or in any attachment).