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Household Employees and Withholding Taxes


Thursday, July 3, 2008
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If you employ someone to work for you around your house, it is important to consider the tax implications of this arrangement. While many people disregard the need to pay taxes on household employees, they do so at the risk of stiff tax penalties. As you will see, these rules are quite complex, even for such a relatively minor employee, and a mistake can bring on tax headaches.

Who is a Household Employee?

The “nanny tax” rules apply to you only if (1) you pay someone for household work and (2) that worker is your employee.

  1. Household work is work done in or around your home by baby sitters, nannies, health aides, private nurses, maids, caretakers, yard workers, and similar domestic workers.
  2. A household worker is your employee if you can control not only what work is done, but how it is done. If the worker is your employee, it does not matter whether the work is full time or part time, or that you hired the worker through an agency or from a list provided by an agency or association. It also does not matter whether you pay the worker on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis, or by the job. On the other hand, if only the worker can control how the work is done, the worker is not your employee, but is self-employed. A self-employed worker usually provides his or her own tools and offers services to the general public in an independent business. If an agency provides the worker and controls what work is done and how it is done, the worker is not your employee.

Example: You pay Betty to baby sit your child and do light housework four days a week in your home. Betty follows your specific instructions about household and child care duties. You provide the household equipment and supplies that Betty needs to do her work. Betty is your household employee.

Example: You pay John to care for your lawn. John also offers lawn care services to other homeowners in your neighborhood. He provides his own tools and supplies, and he hires and pays any helpers he needs. Neither John nor his helpers are your household employees.

Tips on Tips

Do you work at a hair salon, barber shop, casino, golf course, hotel or restaurant or drive a taxicab? The tip income you receive as an employee from those services is taxable income.

Here as some tips about tips:

  • Tips are taxable. Tips are subject to federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and may be subject to state income tax as well. The value of non–cash tips, such as tickets, passes or other items of value, is also income and subject to federal income tax.
  • Include tips on your tax return. You must include in gross income all cash tips you receive directly from customers, tips added to credit cards, and your share of any tips you receive under a tip–splitting arrangement with fellow employees.
  • Report tips to your employer. If you receive $20 or more in tips in any one month, you should report all your tips to your employer. Your employer is required to withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  •  Keep a running daily log of your tip income. You can use IRS Publication 1244, Employee’s Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer, to record your tip income.

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About Chuck Chuckuemeka

Chuck is managing partner of Chuckuemeka & Associates, a nationally focused CPA firm specializing in Accounting, Auditing, Consulting and Tax Advising.

One Response to Household Employees and Withholding Taxes

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