Nanny Taxes and Withholdings

Archived Responses: 

Questions


Paying a nanny legally

April 2012

I am about to start a nanny share with another family and we are not sure how to pay our nanny's salary legally. How is this done? Both families are completely clueless. Thanks for all tips & resources. New momma


The NOLO series ''The Employer's Legal Handbook'' is a good resource for current practices about your responsibilities as an employer who chooses to pay their nanny ''over the table.'' Hope this helps! X


Hi - go to both the IRS and CA EDD sites and get the guides for Household Employers - they have all the info you need there. It took me a bit of time to sort out what I need to do, when, but it's pretty easy after that. That said, there are ''nanny payroll'' services who will do it all for you. Sometimes I think I should have gone that route CA Mom


I recommend using Intuit.com's household employee online service. This service will walk you through everything you need to pay your nanny legally - federal and state taxes, etc. They have excellent support by chat or phone (although wait times on hold can be a bit long). It is $10/mo I think. This service also allows and organizes direct deposit into your nanny's account, which I find incredibly helpful. It is a great place to start. (You have to do a whole lot of other things, like make sure your employee has a valid SSN, register as an employer with the state, pay state and federal taxes, etc. But the web service will help you with that.) I can't imagine figuring out the taxes, etc. on my own without some software or web based system or other professional help. With the web based service, it is easy. And the right thing to do. also paying nanny legally


Hi. First by way of disclosure, I am the owner of a local business Savvy Nanny Pay. It is good that you want to go the legal route as you will protect yourself from liability and be able to claim deductions on your annual tax return and use a FSA account in your workplace if it is offered. And your nanny will have contributions paid to Social Security and reportable income if she applies for credit. Now, for your questions. You will need to pay payroll taxes on her earnings and take out her share of Medicare and Social Security. You are also encouraged but not required to take out the employees portion of unemployment, disability, and income taxes. Some people go it alone and manage this themselves but most people find it too cumbersome and hire a service. There are many services out there online. I will say as a plug for my business that we are the least expensive online service that offers one click automatic payments of taxes and direct deposit of paychecks. In addition to taxes other important considerations are that your employee must be paid minimum wage and overtime. You should also carry Workers Comp insurance which is a fairly inexpensive add-on to your home owner's or renters insurance. As a Berkeley mom with a child in a shared nanny situation I would be most happy to discuss any nanny issue related to my service or not.  Linda


There is a lot to know! The BPN nanny survey gives a good clue as to the pay rate. And you should know that in California, you must pay overtime for work over 8 hours a day. As for the taxes, there is a great local service called Savvy Nanny Pay. Their info is at www.savvynannypay.com They are a web-based business where you just tell them how many hours your nanny works and her pay rate and they calculate the taxes. They tell you when taxes are due by email, how much you owe, and then you just click and they send your taxes off to all the different agencies. Each time you pay your nanny you just tell them how many hours your nanny worked and their pay rate and they calculate everything for you, providing a pay stub with all the details. You can also print checks or use direct deposit to pay your nanny if you want. There is a lot of information required during the setup like your Employer Identification Number, bank account information etc. but the system guides you through it. They are really inexpensive compared to other services out there and based in Berkeley. I think they are just wonderful:) Avery


There are services you can use to figure out and pay your nanny taxes (www.mybreedlove.com is one) -- will probably run you around $300 a year. I did it myself and havent found it too complicated, most of the time is im the setup. You have to register with the state and federal government as an employer, and there are a couple forms to fill out. Then you have to calculate and pay the state taxes likely quarterly and the federal taxes with your annual return. I have an instruction sheet and google spreadsheet set up that i dont mind sharing though i cant guarantee its accurate.


A few years ago we used Intuit (formerly Paycycle), which for $20/month gave us all the guidance we needed about how much and when we needed to pay all the various taxes. Each family runs their own payroll and pays their own taxes as if they were the only employer. The only downside of this is that she may not have enough withheld for federal income tax since each family is only paying part of it. You might ask if she wants you to put aside a little extra before you pay her for her for her own personal income taxes. What, me employer?
 


Hiring/Paying nanny taxes

Feb 2011

I'm looking for advice from people who report and pay nanny taxes. Do you find it's best to withhold taxes from your nanny's wages and pay that for her/him along with the employer contribution or is it easier to pay full wages directly to your nanny? If you withhold, when you're hiring how much per hour do you offer a prospective nanny? I see that $15/hr seems to be the going rate for one child for in-home care. Is that gross or net hourly wage? Was it a challenge to find nanny candidates receptive to having income reported? Are there any online resources/tools you would recommend to educate/prepare to calculate and pay fed/state taxes myself? A big thank you to any and all who can offer some guidance to this new mom. Ashley


I pay taxes for our nanny and I do it myself. It's a bit of work to get it set up and maintain the system, but I don't find it a big deal overall. At least not big enough that I'd hand it over to a service that charged a lot for it. It mainly takes being handy with spreadsheets. The instructions can be found in the web (google ''household employer federal'' and ''household employer California''). That said, if you're a new mom and sleep-deprived, it will be more confusing.

To the details: there are things you have to withhold (social security - employee's share, medicare - employee's share, state disability) and things you have to pay as the employer (social security - your share, medicare - your share, federal unemployment, CA unemployment, CA employment training tax). There are things you can choose to withhold if you agree to do so with your nanny: federal and CA personal income tax. I've done it both ways at the request of different nannies. Adding the personal income tax is a little more trouble to look up the amounts, but not a whole lot. It was a challenge to find nannies who wanted their income reported. Good luck. Cathryn


We've used an online service called Breedlove for many years. It withholds the correct amount of taxes from her paycheck. Very happy with the service. love my nanny


I used Paycycle online service for my nanny - I think it's been bought by Intuit now. The nanny I hired assumed she would be paid under the table but I wanted to do it legally, not only for ethical reasons but also because I intended to take the childcare deduction on my income tax. So the nanny and I agreed on a monthly salary, and then I increased the salary to add on the taxes and withholdings that would get deducted from her paycheck. That way she got the amount she wanted. She worked for me for almost five years, and I was glad we did the withholdings because she qualified for state disability payments when she took off for three months after having a baby (her sister pitched in for her while she was on leave.)  She also paid into social security for those years, and after working for me, she only accepted legal nanny jobs because she wanted to plan for her future.

It is not much trouble and not very expensive to use an online payroll service. Your relationship with your nanny is more professional if you treat her as a legal employee and pay her legally, so you are doing the right thing!


Nanny wants me to underreport her salary

May 2005

My nanny wants to be paid partially under the table to retain her medi-cal benefits, I'm concerned about an audit, does anyone else under-report? concerned tax payer



Probably MOST nannies want you to underreport, and who can blame them? They are not exactly living ''high on the hog,'' and families who hire them don't pay their medical expenses, plus they have no safety net to fall back on (Social security, etc.) So, I think it is fine and helpful to underreport. You both need to agree upon what to report (all of the details-- hours reported, cost per hour reported) and stick to it. No one loses out. Doing the same



Many people under-report. Additionally, many people don't report at all. Make sure all non-reported income is paid in cash, never with a check.

The second option is to pay for her health insurance, so that you don't need to worry about audits, and she doesn't need to worry about qualifying for medi-cal.

The third option is to pay her a living wage over-the-table so she can afford regular health insurance. This would likely be a much larger financial responsibility for you.

Weigh your options and see what works best. Good luck.


 

Handling mess with nanny giving false SSN

Mar 2005

I need advice on how to handle an nanny arrangement gone awry. When we hired our nanny last fall, we made it clear that we wanted to do everything aboveboard. Now it turns out she gave us a false Social Security Number. This was the SSN we filed all the paperwork under, did the withholding with, put on her pay sheets, etc.

How this happened: We didn't ask to see her Social Security card. Instead she showed us a valid alien registration receipt card with permission to work. But now she told us that she doesn't have an SSN and doesn't think she can get one because of something she did after she got the work permission. She didn't want to talk about the details, but I'm guessing immigration. I guess she was desperate for a job. (We checked her references, but I'm now assuming she was paid under the table.)

We only just figured this out because the electronic filing deadline is end of March. Now we're in a bind. Does anyone have advice on how to clean up the taxes? I don't think we're legally at fault, but it looks like a big mess. Do we need to see a lawyer? Any recommendations?

Though I'm angry about this (and I fired the nanny -- a whole different source of heartache, since my child loved her, not to mention scrambling for childcare, oh), I want to try to do this in a way that minimizes the trouble she'll get into. If state and federal agencies have her name and address and a false SSN, will that permanently prevent her from getting a real SSN? From fixing whatever immigration problem is behind it? Is there anyone she can turn to for help? Anon



I can't help you much with the legal details regarding your taxes and your nanny's false SSN, but I encourage you to seek a solution that minimizes the nanny's exposure to deportation, especially if she has family here. Looking at this situation from your perspective, I can see how you would be frustrated and angry: you were very clear with the nanny, and she lied to you. However, I know many people who are not legal in the U.S. and who use false social security numbers to work. Believe it or not, this is very common. An entire illegal economy buzzes around us. Not just the people caring for our children, but also mowing our lawns, serving us coffee, cleaning our homes, etc. From the nanny's perspective, she was just doing what most of her friends and family do in order to work in the U.S. Good luck with the tax trouble, and I hope the nanny can stay under the radar. anonymous


 

Paying taxes in advance

April 2003

I just finished our taxes, and I have learned something about ''nanny taxes'' that I hope will help save some of you time and money.

We were very concerned about paying the proper nanny taxes, so we paid Breedlove (an accounting firm specializing in nanny taxes) $375 to calculate what we should pay quarterly. We dutifully sent checks to the federal and state government every quarter.

When I did my taxes with TurboTax, it figured out what we owed in ''household employment taxes''--this turned out to be what we had already paid, over the four quarters, as nanny tax. But it turned out that we didn't really need to pay quarterly; all that is is estimated tax, and if you have enough withheld from your paycheck, you shouldn't have to pay quartly estimated taxes. Because of this misunderstanding, we are getting a huge tax refund this year. Next year, we won't bother paying any nanny taxes in advance; we'll just let TurboTax calculate what we owe at the end of the year, and assume that it will be covered by what we've had withheld. This might not work for you if you have only a minimal amount of taxes withheld from your paycheck, but you can ask to have more withheld and save yourself the hassle of dealing with nanny taxes.

Maybe all of this is obvious (or inapplicable) to most people, but it wasn't to us. And, clearly, companies such as Breedlove would rather that you not figure it out!

Now wiser about Nanny Taxes



I want to post a correction to what appeared under ''Unsolicited Good Advice'' in the last issue of the Advice line.

While it is absolutely correct that you can adjust your federal withholding to include your FEDERAL quarterly payments of nanny taxes, it is IMPOSSIBLE to do so for California purposes. California part of nanny taxes is composed of multiple taxes that are small in amount, but high in underpayment penalties if not paid on time or underpaid in amount. There is no way to take care of California payments through increased payroll withholding, so one does need to either hire a tax service, or buy a tax software or invest personal time and work with spreadsheets and booklets to take care of these timely.

Btw, my advice is un-biased - I specialize in income taxes, NOT payroll taxes.

Maria U. Ku, C.P.A.


 

Figuring out taxes and withholdings

Sept 2002

On the website there is an archived discussion in response to the question of whether there are software packages that assist in calculating/reporting nanny taxes -- but no one actually answered the question! Instead, various third-party services were recommended. For those of us who are planning to do it on our own, ARE there federal and/or California software packages available -- and if so, what are they, and did you find them helpful? Thanks! Gretchen



Gretchen- There is no nanny tax software for state- because you are paying income tax for nanny, plus disability tax, plus something else, all going to 3 different state agencies with different filing dates 4 times per year. The tax calculations are relatively simple, it's all the paperwork that's confusing! If you go online to the CA EDD, I think you can ask them to send you forms. The federal form is probably in regular tax software, Schedule H or something. I assume there's no software because it's not a big market. I know one very organized person that does the state stuff herself, but most dual income families with nannies end up shelling out for help I assume. The services seem vastly overpriced, but my regular tax attorney says it would cost the same for him to do it, becasue of the need for quarterly filing. This is probably why so many people don't file- saving money is one thing (10-12% of nanny salary), the hassle just adds to the insult! Kate



Sept 2001

I use a service to handle all of the taxes, SS, Medicare, etc. and I'm very pleased with them. They do absolutely everything: I give them my nanny's name, social security number, and number of allowances she wants to claim, and in return, I receive a payroll form showing me what to withhold from her check, and the appropriate forms for state and federal everything, completed in full, with a space marked for me to sign and a note about where to send the check(s). I am not required to think at all: it's perfect. The service is called Breedlove & Associates, phone 1-888-BREEDLOVE. They're located in Texas but have clients all over including California. Fran



Bananas in Oakland has a guide to paying Nanny Taxes. It didn't look all that complicated, but it did look expensive! For us, it became more than we could afford very rapidly, even with sharing a nanny. And of course, sharing makes it more complicated!

By the way, if you live in the Oakland/Berkeley area, you can sign up to the Bananas newsletter for free (we live in San Leandro, and would have to pay a small subscription fee). They may be willing to mail you a copy of the appropriate guides, whether or not you are on their mailing list.

Dawn



Bananas has a one-sheet summary of what you need to do, including a little chart that shows how much you'll really pay once you add on the various taxes. Actually paying the taxes is pretty easy, since most can be paid when you file your own taxes, using Schedule H (I think). Of course, you also need to deduct the appropriate amounts from your babysitter's paychecks...

In my view, he cumbersome part is getting all the forms, since they come from several different State and Federal agencies. (If anyone has found a single source packet of all needed materials, I'd sure like to know about it! It may be that if you use an accountant he or she has such a packet; or, maybe by this time Bananas has developed one.) In short, I found that setting up my files was onerous, but once I had everything in place it was really no problem.

Barbara



1998

Someone recently asked for information about the procedures for paying nanny taxes. My husband and I have been through the terribly complex procedures and I am happy to discuss them with you. Send me e-mail at meyersa [at] mail.law.berkeley.edu. If you have not already done this, take a look at the IRS website at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/prod/cover.html . I found the downloadable publications on this issue to be pretty clear. I think California tax dept also has a website you can look at for information but I don't know the address. Alison



My wife and I recently hired a nanny for our 6 month old son. Both being CPA's we thought that we could handle the employer tax issues for household help. We started by downloading Publication 926 from the Internal Revenue Service Internet site. This document provides good advice about the federal taxes. However, we were unable to find any good information about the State of California taxes. Confused by what to do we did some more research on the Internet. By luck we came across a company at http://www.4nannytaxes.com/default.htm that prepares all necessary correspondence with the taxing authorities and will take care of all withholdings including W-2's and Schedule H. Their services are priced individually or as a package. Overall, their rates are very reasonable. Andrew


 

Do-it-yourself vs. payroll service

Feb 2002

Do you pay nanny taxes yourself? I'm looking for some recommendations on what I need to do to start paying taxes, both federal and state, for our nanny starting in Jan. 2002. I'd like to do this myself verses paying a nanny payroll service or accountant, although I'd like to hear pros and cons about using a third party. Who have you used and what is the cost? Is it worth the hassle factor to do it myself? Do you know of any software that I can use for keeping track and paying nanny taxes (Turbo Tax for Nannies???) Thanks! Betsy



I just set up an excel spreadsheet and it worked out pretty well for me. Since I only paid the taxes every quarter, I had to ''relearn'' what I did each time, so take notes! I don't think it's that hard and I hear the cost is kind of steep for someone else to handle it. Lisa



Your nanny needs an SSN, which she/he can get whether a US citizen or not. You need a fed Tax ID no. You can fill out the application, which you can get online and fax it in. Start taking out .076 of her/his paycheck to pay Soc. Sec. tax and you will be matching it All is paid when you send in your taxes. Debe



Is it worth the hassle to prepare your nanny tax materials yourself? I vote absolutely NOT. It is ridiculous how much work is entailed in paying nanny taxes. We use Breedlove & Associates (1-888-BREEDLOVE). The convenience is well worth the cost (about $350). You provide them with the nanny's name, address, social sec. #, salary, and allowances, and they do it ALL. You receive the forms completely filled out with the place to sign and date highlighted at the appropriate times of the year. And believe me, it seems like every time you turn around there is another one due. We changed our nanny's salary several times as her hours changed, she got raises, etc., and they would always tell me immediately what the new withholdings were. I never had to worry whether it was done correctly; whether I had the latest version of the form, whether I'd filled it out correctly, etc. I know there are prepared software packages, but by the time you install the software, read the instructions, etc. not to mention USE IT however many times a year you have to do this....best case scenario I can't imagine it taking less than several hours and worst case it could be many many more. Fran



Breedlove and Associates performs this service for around $350 per year (plus a one-time sign up fee). They are based in Texas but do household taxes (and payroll services) for all states. Their number is 1-888-BREEDLOV. When I researched it, they were far cheaper than any tax professional I could find. lawsonfmly



I just started paying nanny taxes in January. At first I set up an excel spreadsheet and researched on the web all the different taxes. You have to get an employer ID from fed. and state; once you figure out how and where, they are pretty easy - a quick fax for the federal EID and a phone call for the state. The Soc. Sec. and Medicare are pretty straightforward, but state withholdings are amazingly baroque. There are several different components (such as state disability, unemployment ins., etc.). The percentage amt. for one of them depends on when you hire, so basically you have to wait for the state to tell you how much. To make a long story short, I am sharing the nanny with a friend, and she was worried about getting all the tax payments in on time, and the pay check was getting complicated with our schedules that change every week, so she found an online nanny tax system that is GREAT. It's called Pay Cycle and it's https://www.paycycle.com/ Everything is online, though there is also excellent phone support, and it is $20 a month, which is cheaper than other services we researched. It's based in the South Bay. I highly recommend it, if you like to do things online and you don't want to hassle with computing taxes and remembering when to send in your payments. One thing I really like is I can tell them what hourly rate I want to pay my nanny, and they figure out the withholdings so she still gets that rate (because we are paying the taxes.) It turned out that I had computed the state withholdings wrong, plus I had a couple of errors in my spreadsheet so that Medicare was way off. The support person was just great about fixing everything up, and now I just go to the website every two weeks and enter the number of hours. I get a paystub to print out, and a check amt. (you can also set it up for direct deposit but I just write out a check to my nanny.) They track taxes and remind me when it's time to pay them. I highly recommend them. Ginger



I thought I would add a few more pieces of info. I've picked up while paying nanny taxes: 1) Employment Development Dept.(EDD) has an informative booklet on Household Employees. It can tell you at what point($$ per qtr paid) you are responsible for State Disability, Unemployment taxes etc. 2) The IRS publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide helps you with the federal aspects of paying a household employee.

My employee wanted me to with hold federal taxes, which are easy to do. I refused to with hold state taxes(you are not required to), b/c it gets too complicated. I've designed a spreadsheet for paying my nanny that computes the Federal, soc, sec., medicare, unemployment and disability taxes. It will also create a W-2 for you at the end of the year(so you can then type the info onto the actual IRS W-2 form). If your interested let me know and I can email it to you.

Once you have a system down for computing payroll, taxes etc. it's really quite easy. Maya