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Let’s dig into the regulation and get the information you need to successfully process your payroll. If you’re self-employed, the IRS has a little surprise for you called the self-employment tax. It’s a 15.3% tax made up of 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. FICA taxes are a mandatory expense that can take a dent out of your budget, so don’t forget about them when considering how much tax you actually pay.

The employer’s and employee’s obligations with respect to the Medicare surtax are different. In some cases, there may be a “mismatch” between the amounts you are obligated to withhold and the amount of your employee’s surtax liability. You pay your FICA equivalent through a program called SECA (Self Employed Contributions Act). This act was squeezed in between the social security and Medicare acts and was enacted in 1954. It basically recognized that entrepreneurs who were sole proprietors were not previously accountable for contributing to these tax funds, so the act was created. As a self-employed individual or sole proprietor, you are both the employee and the employer.

  • Or you can get your taxes done right, with experts by your side with TurboTax Live Assisted.
  • Your depositing schedule depends on the total tax liability you reported during a four-quarter lookback period.
  • Wage earners pay 6.2% on income of $160,200 ($168,600 in 2024) or less toward Social Security.
  • In effect, the employer is responsible for remitting two times the amount withheld from its employees.
  • The Federal Insurance Contributions Act is the government law that requires the business to withhold two separate assessments from the wages the workers procure.

The independent work tax rate is equivalent to the aggregate FICA sum. The independently employed individual should pay Social Security expenses of 12.4 percent and 2.9 percent goes to Medicare. While FICA and federal income tax are both deductions from your wages, they’re separate taxes that fund different government activities. To calculate your Social Security tax, the government uses a wage base, which sets a limit on how much of your income is subject to Social Security taxes.

What is FICA Tax and How is it Calculated?

The funds are used to pay for both Social Security and Medicare. If you own a business, you’re responsible for paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, too. Self-employed workers are referred to as SECA taxes (or self-employment taxes) based on regulations included in the Self-Employed Contributions Act.

Fortunately, as a small business owner, SECA tax budgeting becomes a bit easier due to the expectation of filing estimated quarterly taxes. We’ve covered a lot about the Social Security and Medicare portions of the FICA tax. If you still have questions about why you have to pay the FICA tax or how it affects your income, reach out to a RamseyTrusted tax expert! They can answer your questions and help you figure out how the FICA tax will impact your tax bill.

Deposit all employment taxes using the IRS’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). If you use a Full Service payroll, they will deposit the taxes on your behalf. Though guide to lenders review they pay more than wage earners, self-employed individuals do get a tax break. They can deduct the amount that represents the employer’s share (half) as a business expense.

As with Medicare tax, self-employed individuals will have to pay both the employee and employer portion of Social Security Tax. To the extent the employer does not withhold the 0.9 percent Medicare surtax, the employee must pay the tax. Employees who anticipate being under-withheld for the Medicare surtax can make estimated payments or they can request additional income tax withholding on Form W-4. The employee can then apply the additional income tax withheld against Medicare surtax liability on his or her Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) or Form 1040-SR (U.S. Tax Return for Seniors).

What Is a W-4 Form? How to Fill Out an Employee’s Withholding Certificate in 2023

That is, providing that the Social Security program can remain funded through payroll taxes. FICA tax is a payroll tax imposed by the federal government that funds Social Security and Medicare programs. The FICA payroll tax is withheld from employees and also matched by the employer. In effect, the employer is responsible for remitting two times the amount withheld from its employees.

A wage base limit applies to employees who pay Social Security taxes. This means that gross income above a certain threshold is exempt from this tax. The wage limit changes almost every year based on inflation. This income ceiling is also the maximum amount of money that’s considered when calculating the size of Social Security benefits. The Social Security component of the FICA tax is regressive. Because no tax is owed on wages above the wage base limit amount, the total tax rate declines as wages increase beyond that limit.

As such, FICA is a federal income tax that is applied against gross earnings directly related to Medicare and social security. What if you don’t have a traditional employer to pick up half of the total FICA tax tab? If you are self-employed, you’ll still have to contribute funds to Social Security and Medicare. However, the taxes are levied on your net earnings instead of gross pay. When you look at your paycheck, you’ll see that your FICA taxes are taken out of your gross wages. Most employees will see 6.2% taken out for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare, for a total of 7.65%.


The nice thing about calculating FICA as part of your payroll processes is that there are very few variables. FICA is the acronym for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act of 1935. Originally, FICA was enacted to provide for the Social Security fund. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson determined that the Medicare fund needed an appropriate home and was consolidated under the FICA umbrella. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page.

Stay up to date on the latest payroll tips and training

You can use Schedule SE (Form 1040) to figure out how much tax is due on your self-employment net earnings. The more tax deductions and credits you claim, the less money your employer will withhold from your paycheck. So, it’s important to make sure you accurately fill out your W-4 Form and that you update your information on that form when needed. There is no comparable earnings maximum for Medicare; the 1.45 percent Medicare tax included in FICA is levied on all of your work income.

Additional Medicare Tax Withholding Rate

Our SmartVestor program can connect you with a trustworthy investing pro who can help you make a plan for your retirement savings goals. As of right now, Social Security is only funded until 2034. Who knows when or even if the government will extend it beyond then! So putting all your retirement savings eggs in the Social Security and Medicare baskets is not a bright idea.

Certain emergency workers

In 1965, the payroll tax to fund health care benefits was added when Medicare was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Employees and self-employed taxpayers are subject to the Social Security tax. Employers often deduct this tax from employees’ wages and remit it to the government. Paying FICA taxes entitles you to disability and life insurance benefits as well. Provided you become disabled, you may be eligible for Social Security disability payments if you meet specific conditions and have the required amount of Social Security credits. If you die, your qualified family members, such as minor children and a surviving spouse who cares for small children or is 60 or older, may be eligible for Social Security survivor payments.

In other words, for wage levels above the limit, the absolute dollar amount of tax owed remains constant. There are some limited cases, such as a successor-predecessor employer transfer, in which the payments that have already been withheld can be counted toward the year-to-date total. Unlike the other FICA taxes, the 0.9 percent Medicare surtax is imposed on the employee portion only. There is no employer match for the Medicare surtax (also called the Additional Medicare Tax).

“You gain credits for Social Security benefits when you work and earn and then pay your FICA taxes,” explains Michael Hammelburger, CEO of Bottom Line Group in Baltimore. To qualify for a Social Security credit in 2022, you must earn at least $1,510 and pay FICA taxes on that amount. Once you have earned at least 40 credits, you will be eligible to collect Social Security retirement benefits beginning at the age of 62. The obligation to withhold applies only to amounts in excess of $200,000. However, once you are obligated to begin withholding the Medicare surtax, you continue to withhold it each pay period until the end of the calendar year. Making sure you are correctly calculating your payroll taxes can be a bit unnerving at best and stressful for most.

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