HomePayrollWho Pays Payroll Taxes? Employer, Worker, or Each? (+ Cheatsheet)

Who Pays Payroll Taxes? Employer, Worker, or Each? (+ Cheatsheet)

Everytime you lower a examine for an worker, the worker isn’t the one one receiving cash. It’s essential to withhold payroll taxes from worker wages and remit them to the right companies. Relying on the payroll tax, you should match worker contributions. However, not all payroll taxes are created equally. So, who pays payroll taxes? Is it the employer, the worker, or each? Learn on for the inside track.

Who pays payroll taxes?

So, who pays payroll taxes? The brief reply is employers and staff pay payroll taxes on wages, suggestions, and revenue. The lengthy reply is a little more sophisticated. It seems employers and staff share some payroll taxes and never others. 

Shared payroll taxes

Employers and staff pay equal parts of FICA taxes. FICA taxes are obligatory payroll taxes employers and staff pay paid by employers and staff within the U.S. and embody Social Safety and Medicare taxes. Social Safety and Medicare are “insurance coverage” taxes that assist sure teams within the U.S. 

As an example, Social Safety gives partial revenue alternative for:

  • Retired adults
  • People with disabilities
  • Certified spouses, kids, and survivors (e.g., widows or widowers)

And, Medicare is a medical health insurance program for folks:

  • 65 years or older
  • With qualifying disabilities beneath 65 years outdated
  • With end-stage renal illness

Consider FICA tax as a future security web you and your staff assist create. Now that you recognize what FICA taxes pay for, let’s take a look at who pays them. 

Who pays fica taxes? Fica tax is made up of Social Security and Medicare taxes. The different taxes are paid equally by employers and employees. For social security taxes, employers pay 6.2% and withhold 6.2% from employee wages. For Medicare tax employers pay 1.45% and withhold 1.45% from employee wages.

Social Safety

Each employers and staff pay Social Safety tax. Employers withhold Social Safety taxes from worker wages and match the worker’s contribution.

Social Safety tax is a flat price of 12.4% cut up between the employer and the worker. In different phrases, you pay 6.2% and withhold the remaining 6.2% from worker wages. 

Due to the Social Safety wage base, not all worker wages are topic to tax. It’s essential to cease withholding taxes from an worker’s wages as soon as they attain the wage base for the calendar 12 months. For 2023, the Social Safety wage base is $160,200. As quickly as an worker’s wages attain $160,200 for the 12 months, cease withholding (and matching) Social Safety for that worker.

Let’s take a look at an instance of this in motion. One in every of your staff earns $205,000 for the 12 months. Due to the Social Safety wage base, you may solely withhold Social Safety taxes from $160,200 of the worker’s revenue in 2023. As quickly as the worker meets the wage base for the 12 months, cease withholding Social Safety for that worker. The remaining $44,800 ($205,000 – $160,200) doesn’t contribute to Social Safety.

Keep in mind that the wage base might improve yearly to account for the price of residing.   


Employers and staff additionally share Medicare tax. Like Social Safety, you should withhold Medicare from worker wages and match the worker’s contribution.

The Medicare tax price is 2.9% cut up between worker and employer. The employer should withhold 1.45% from worker wages and contribute an identical 1.45%. 

Whereas there isn’t a wage base for Medicare taxes, there’s a further Medicare tax of 0.9% you need to find out about. The extra Medicare tax isn’t a shared tax; solely the worker pays it. 

Workers should pay the extra tax after they attain one of many following thresholds:

Submitting Standing Threshold Quantity
Married submitting collectively $250,000
Married submitting separate $125,000
Single $200,000
Head of family (with qualifying particular person) $200,000
Qualifying widow(er) with dependent youngster $200,000

Let’s take one other take a look at the worker from earlier. Your worker makes $205,000 per 12 months. As a result of they file as single and make greater than $200,000, you should withhold the common Medicare price (1.45%) plus the extra Medicare tax (0.9%) on wages past $200,000 for a complete Medicare contribution of two.35%. Nevertheless, you proceed paying just one.45%. 

Employer payroll taxes

Employers and staff don’t share all payroll taxes. There are some payroll taxes paid solely by employers. 

Employers should pay the next payroll taxes:

  • Self-employment taxes
  • Federal unemployment tax
  • State unemployment tax

Self-employment taxes

Employers pay self-employment tax when they’re … (drum roll, please) self-employed. As a result of nobody withholds FICA taxes from their wages, self-employed staff want a strategy to remit their Social Safety and Medicare taxes. That is the place self-employment taxes come into play.

The self-employment tax price is identical because the FICA price, 15.3% of annual earnings. 

Right here’s how the self-employment tax breaks down. The self-employment tax price is 15.3%. Social Safety taxes make up 12.4%, and Medicare covers the remaining 2.9%. 

Self-employed staff should hold observe of the Social Safety wages base ($160,200) and the extra Medicare tax (0.9% as soon as wages exceed $200,000). Each are the identical for self-employed staff as they’re for different staff.  

Federal unemployment tax

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) is an unemployment tax on employers. The federal authorities is determined by FUTA taxes to offer unemployment compensation to staff who’ve misplaced their jobs. 

Some employers don’t must pay FUTA tax. The IRS has three exams that will help you decide if you must pay FUTA taxes:

  • Normal check
  • Family staff check
  • Farmworkers check

Every check is for a selected sort of worker. If the solutions to a specific check apply to your state of affairs, you should pay FUTA tax on worker wages. For extra details about the exams, see IRS Publication 15

The FUTA price is 6% and applies to the primary $7,000 paid to an worker for the 12 months. This $7,000 is the FUTA wage base. 

Due to the wage base, the biggest FUTA quantity you’ll pay per worker is $420 ($7,000 X 0.06). For those who pay greater than $420, you’ve paid an excessive amount of. 

When paying FUTA tax, there are two extra issues you need to know:

  1. You could be eligible for a FUTA tax credit score (most employers are)
  2. Relying on the place you reside, you could be in a credit score discount state

Try our chart for FUTA tax credit score and credit score discount states. 

FUTA Tax Credit score Credit score Discount State
When does this apply to me? You could be eligible for this credit score in case you pay wages topic to state unemployment tax. In case your state doesn’t find the money for to cowl its unemployment advantages, it is going to borrow cash from the federal authorities. Your state can have two years to pay again the mortgage.
The state turns into a credit score discount state if the steadiness is excellent by November 10 of the second 12 months. Your state will stay a credit score discount state till the debt is paid.
How does this have an effect on me? The FUTA tax credit score can cowl as much as 5.4% of FUTA taxable wages. 
For instance, a FUTA tax credit score of 5.4% will scale back your FUTA tax legal responsibility to 0.6% (6% – 5.4%).
For those who’re in a credit score discount state, the FUTA credit score price of 5.4% is diminished by 0.3% the primary 12 months and a further 0.3% annually the mortgage goes unpaid.
For those who certified for the total FUTA tax credit score price of 5.4%, subtract 0.3% to seek out your diminished FUTA tax credit score price of 5.1% (5.4% – 0.3%). Subsequent, subtract your diminished FUTA tax credit score price from the FUTA tax price of 6% to seek out your FUTA tax price for the 12 months of 0.9% (5.1% – 6%).
Keep in mind so as to add 0.3% to your state’s credit score discount annually till the state repays the mortgage. 
What do I’ve to do? To qualify for the total credit score, you can’t be in a credit score discount state.
File Kind 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return.
Subtract your state credit score discount price out of your FUTA credit score price.
File Kind 940, Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return.

State unemployment tax

State unemployment tax (SUTA) helps fund unemployment packages and advantages to staff who misplaced their jobs via no fault of their very own. Whereas unemployment taxes are often employer-only taxes, there are a number of exceptions to the rule. Alaska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania require you to withhold cash from worker wage as effectively. 

SUTA tax is a share of worker wages. State unemployment tax charges differ from state to state. SUTA tax goes by different names. As an example, California has state unemployment insurance coverage (SUI), and Florida has a reemployment tax. Whatever the identify, all states have an unemployment tax.

Ensure that to pay the SUTA tax to the state the place the work takes place. You probably have staff working in several states, you’ll pay SUTA tax to every state the place the work is carried out.

To discover a state’s SUTA price, merely join a SUTA tax account with the suitable state and the state will ship all the knowledge you want. 

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Worker payroll taxes

There are some payroll taxes that solely the worker has to fret about, like federal, state, and native revenue taxes. Once more, staff who stay in Alaska, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey should pay state unemployment insurance coverage (SUI). 

Federal revenue tax

Federal revenue tax is an employee-only tax you should withhold from worker wages. There isn’t a single price for federal revenue tax. Withholding for federal revenue tax is determined by the worker’s:

  • Pay frequency
  • Submitting standing
  • Annual revenue
  • Kind W-4

Once more, federal revenue tax doesn’t have a flat price. If you wish to calculate federal revenue tax by hand, IRS Publication 15 has withholding tables that may assist. However, withholding federal revenue tax from worker wages doesn’t must be sophisticated. On-line payroll software program can calculate payroll taxes so that you don’t must. 

State revenue tax

Forty-one states (and Washington D.C.) have a state revenue tax. So, there’s likelihood that you simply’ll must withhold state revenue tax from worker wages. 

Some states use a flat price for his or her revenue tax, whereas others use tax brackets to determine what price staff pay. Go to your state’s division of income for extra data. 

The next states don’t have a state revenue tax on worker revenue:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Whereas New Hampshire doesn’t have a state revenue tax on wages, they do levy an revenue tax on dividend and curiosity revenue. 

Native revenue tax

Native revenue taxes assist pay for neighborhood enchancment initiatives and training. Native revenue taxes happen solely in states which have a state revenue tax. However not all states with state revenue tax can have native revenue taxes. 

Native revenue taxes differ between municipalities. There are some widespread tax charges you need to find out about:

  • Flat tax price: A single price throughout all revenue ranges
  • Progressive tax price: The tax price will increase with worker revenue
  • Flat greenback quantity: All staff pay the identical greenback quantity, no matter their annual revenue

Examine native legal guidelines to be sure you’re withholding the correct amount of native revenue tax from worker wages. 

Who pays payroll taxes worker or employer cheatsheet

Sorts of Payroll Taxes Shared Payroll Taxes Employer-only Payroll Taxes Worker-only Payroll Taxes
Social Safety
Extra Medicare
Federal unemployment
State unemployment ✓ *
Federal revenue
State revenue
Native revenue
Self-employment  ✓**

* Just for staff working in Alaska, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. 

** Just for self-employed people.

State-specific payroll taxes

Relying in your state, there could also be further state-specific taxes you must find out about. Be looking out for issues like:

Contact your state to study who contributes to those payroll taxes and the tax charges. 

With Patriot’s Full Service payroll, your payroll taxes may be simpler than ever. Merely enter your payroll data, and we’ll deal with calculations, deposits, and the mandatory types. Strive it without cost right now!

This isn’t meant as authorized recommendation; for extra data, please click on right here.

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