If you have a household employee, you may need to pay state and federal employment taxes. Which forms do you need to file for your household employees? Is your maid, housekeeper, or babysitter covered by the rules? This Financial Guide provides the answers to these and other questions.
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This Financial Guide will help you decide whether you have a "household employee," as defined by the IRS, and, if you do, whether you need to pay federal employment taxes. It explains the rules for determining, paying, and reporting Social Security tax, Medicare tax, federal unemployment tax, federal income tax withholding, and state unemployment tax for your household employee. It also explains what records you need to keep. In addition, it provides you with the information you need to find out whether you need to pay state unemployment tax for your household employee.
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 below, these rules are quite complex and professional tax guidance is highly recommended.
A basic familiarity with these rules will make it easier to work with your tax advisor, saving you time, reducing tax costs, and avoiding tax penalties and interest charges.
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 .
- A household employee is someone who does work in or around your home. Examples of household employees include baby sitters, nannies, health aides, private nurses, maids, caretakers, yard workers, and similar domestic workers.
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 babysit 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.
How Do You Verify That an Employee Can Legally Work in the United States?
It is unlawful for you to knowingly hire or continue to employ a person who cannot legally work in the United States.
When you hire a household employee to work for you on a regular basis, he or she must complete USCIS Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification. It is your responsibility to verify that the employee is either a U.S. citizen or an alien who can legally work and then complete the employer part of the form. Keep the completed form for your records. Do not return the form to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Two copies of Form I-9 are contained in the UCIS Employer Handbook. Visit the USCIS website or call 800-767-1833 to order the handbook, additional copies of the form, or to get more information.
Do You Need to Pay Employment Taxes?
If you have a household employee, you may need to withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, or you may need to pay federal unemployment tax, or you may need to do both. To find out, read the table below.