With the increased workloads and the majority of married couples having both spouses employed, hiring of domestic employees to help with the children is a growing occurrence. And while it is called the “Nanny Tax”, the "Nanny Tax" applies to housekeepers, maids, babysitters, gardeners or other household employees who aren't independent contractors. If you employ someone who's subject to the "Nanny Tax," you aren't required to withhold federal income taxes from the employee's pay. You have to withhold only if your nanny asks you to and you agree to withhold. (In that case, have the nanny fill out a Form W-4 and give it to you, so you can withhold the correct amount.) However, you are required to withhold social security and Medicare tax (FICA). And you may also be required to pay federal unemployment (FUTA) and state unemployment (SUTA) tax.

FICA: You have to withhold and pay FICA taxes if your nanny earns cash wages of $1,900 (annual threshold) or more during the calendar year. If you reach the threshold, the entire wages (not just the excess) will be subject to FICA. The only exception to this is if your nanny is under age 18 and child care isn't her principal occupation, then you don't have to withhold FICA taxes.

You should withhold from the start if you expect to meet the annual threshold. If you aren't sure whether the annual threshold will be met, you can still withhold from the start. If it turns out the annual threshold isn't reached, just repay the withheld amount. If you make an error by not withholding enough, withhold additional taxes from later payments.

Both an employer and a nanny have an obligation to pay FICA taxes. As an employer, you are responsible for withholding your nanny's share of FICA. In addition, you must pay a matching amount for your share of the taxes. The FICA tax is divided between social security and Medicare. The social security tax rate is 6.2% for the employer and 6.2% for the nanny, for a total rate of 12.4%. The Medicare tax is 1.45% each for both the employer and the nanny, for a total rate of 2.9%.

Example: In 2015, you pay your nanny $300 a week, and no income tax is withheld. You must withhold a total of $22.95, consisting of $18.60 for your nanny's share of social security tax ($300 × 6.2%) and $4.35 ($300 × 1.45%) for your nanny's share of Medicare tax. You would pay her a net of $277.05 ($300 − $22.95). For your (employer's) portion, you must also pay $22.95 ($300 × 7.65%), for total taxes of $45.90.

If you prefer, you may pay your nanny's share of social security and Medicare taxes from your own funds, instead of withholding it from her pay. Using the figures from the above example, for each $300 of wages, you would pay your nanny the full $300 and also pay all of the total $45.90 in taxes.

If you do pay your nanny's share of these taxes for her, your payments aren't counted as additional cash wages for social security and Medicare tax purposes. In other words, you don't have to compute social security and Medicare tax on the payments. However, your payments of her taxes are treated as additional income to the nanny for federal income tax purposes, so you would have to include them as wages on the Form W-2 that you must provide, as explained below.

FUTA: You also have an obligation to pay FUTA tax if you pay a total of $1,000 or more in cash wages (excluding the value of food and lodging) to your nanny in any calendar quarter of the current year or last year. The FUTA tax applies to the first $7,000 of wages paid. The maximum FUTA tax rate is 6.0%, but credits reduce this rate to 0.6% in most cases. FUTA tax is paid only by the employer, not by the employee, so don't withhold FUTA from the nanny's wages.

As an employer of a nanny, you don't have to file any of the normal employment tax returns, even if you're required to withhold or pay tax (unless you own your own business, see below). Instead, you just report the employment taxes on your tax return, Form 1040, Schedule H.

On your income tax return, you must include your employer identification number (EIN) when you report the employment taxes for your nanny. The EIN isn't the same number as your social security number. If you already have an EIN from a previous nanny, you may use that number.

However, if you own a business as a sole proprietor, you must include the taxes for your nanny on the FICA and FUTA forms (940 and 941) that you file for your business. And you use the EIN from your sole proprietorship to report the taxes for your nanny.

You're also required to provide your nanny with a Form W-2. If her wages are subject to FICA or income tax withholding. Additionally, you must file a Form W-2 with the Social Security Administration. Your EIN must be included on the Form W-2.

Recordkeeping: Be sure to keep careful employment records for each nanny and other domestic employee. Keep the tax records for at least four years from the later of the due date of the return or the date when the tax was paid. Records should include: employee name, address, social security number; dates of employment; dates and amount of wages paid; dates and amounts of withheld FICA or income taxes; amount of FICA taxes paid by you on behalf of your nanny; dates and amounts of any deposits of FICA, FUTA or income taxes; and copies of all forms filed.

This blog article is not intended to be the rendering of legal, accounting, tax advice or other professional services. Articles are based on current or proposed tax rules at the time they are written and older posts are not updated for tax rule changes. We expressly disclaim all liability in regard to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this blog as well as the use or interpretation of this information. Information provided in this website is not all inclusive and such information should not be relied upon as being all inclusive.