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Household Employee


A household employee is an individual hired to provide personal domestic services in a home. These services can include tasks like housekeeping, babysitting, gardening, or care-giving. The employer typically controls not only the work results, but also how the tasks should be done.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Household Employee” is: /ˈhaʊshoʊld ɪmˈplɔɪiː/

Key Takeaways

  1. Definition: A household employee is an individual working within an employer’s home in the context of tasks such as house cleaning, gardening, babysitting or providing home care services. The crucial determinant of a household employee is that the employer has control over the work done and how it is executed.
  2. Tax Responsibilities: If you pay a household employee $2,300 or more in a year (in 2021), you, as an employer are responsible for withholding and paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. You may also be responsible for federal unemployment tax (FUTA). This responsibility for taxes is often referred to as the “Nanny Tax”.
  3. Legal Obligations: As an employer to a household employee, there are certain legal obligations to be followed. These include sticking to the minimum wage laws, providing a safe work environment, avoiding discrimination or harassment, and providing termination notices when necessary.


The term “Household Employee” is important in the context of business/finance because it helps define the tax obligations and employment rights as dictated by IRS guidelines. Household employees include housekeepers, maids, babysitters, gardeners, or other domestic workers who perform duties within a private household’s premises. Employers of ‘household employees’ have certain tax, wage, and insurance obligations under federal and state law, which include paying Social Security, Medicare taxes, and possibly federal unemployment tax. This classification is important because, without it, there could be significant financial and legal ramifications due to non-compliance with established laws and regulations. Additionally, it ensures rights protection and fair treatment for this group of workers.


A household employee plays a pivotal role in handling and facilitating various personal tasks for an individual, family, or a household. Many households employ individuals like babysitters, nannies, housekeepers, gardeners, and likewise to carry out everyday chores. Their main purpose is to take responsibility for certain tasks to ensure the smooth functioning of the household, enabling the homeowner to concentrate on other pivotal tasks, such as professional commitments or leisure activities. In the context of finance and business, the term “household employee” becomes even more crucial. Hiring a household employee involves specific tax implications for the employer who’s paying for these services. For instance, in many jurisdictions, the employer needs to pay taxes like Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment taxes on the wages paid to the household employee. This classification helps in organizing financial obligations and ensuring compliance with different labor and tax laws. Therefore, defining someone as a household employee is essential for managing both household operations and complying with respective laws and regulations.


1. Nanny: A nanny who is paid by a family to take care of their children is considered a household employee. The family provides the nanny with specific tasks, sets her hours, and pays her a regular wage for the services. The family is required to withhold and pay social security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes on these wages.2. Private Chef: A person who is hired by a family to cook meals at their home would also be considered a household employee. The family dictates what time the chef should arrive, what meals to cook, and what other tasks (such as cleaning the kitchen post cooking) need to be done.3. Personal Care Aide: An individual hired to help elderly or disabled family members with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, taking medications, and eating would be another example of a household employee. The family who hires the personal care aide is responsible for paying this employee’s salary and associated taxes.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a household employee?

A household employee is a person who provides services in your home, which may include housekeepers, maids, babysitters, gardeners, or others who work in or around your private residence as your employee.

How does the IRS define a household employee?

The IRS defines a household employee as someone you hire to do chores around your house, yard, or to care for your dependents. If you control how the work is done, the individual is typically considered a household employee.

What is the difference between a household employee and an independent contractor?

An independent contractor controls their workflow and job execution, uses their tools, and offers services to the general public in an independent business. A household employee, however, is controlled by the household employer on how and when work is done.

Am I responsible for paying taxes for my household employee?

Yes, as an employer, you are responsible for withholding and paying Social Security and Medicare taxes if the cash wages you pay to the employee exceed a certain threshold set by the IRS.

How do I report tax for my household employee?

You must give your employee a Form W-2 that shows the total amount of Social Security, Medicare, and federal income taxes withheld over the course of a year. You should also report these employment taxes on your federal income tax return, typically by attaching Schedule H.

What are the requirements for hiring a household employee?

When hiring a household employee, the employer should check the potential employee’s work eligibility, request a Taxpayer Identification Number or Social Security number, and provide an IRS Form W-4 for tax withholding.

Can a household employee be considered a family member?

Yes, however, wages you pay to your spouse, child under 21, or parent usually are not subject to employment taxes. Further conditions apply, so it’s best to check with a tax expert or refer to IRS publications.

Related Finance Terms

  • W-2 Form: This is the tax form household employers must provide to their employees, detailing the previous year’s wages and tax withholdings.
  • Workers’ Compensation: This is insurance coverage that compensates employees for injuries or illnesses incurred as a result of their work duties.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): This is a U.S. law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, and youth employment standards for employees, including household employees, in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local government.
  • Nanny Tax: This refers to the required Social Security, Medicare, and federal unemployment taxes that household employers must pay if they pay a household employee certain wages.
  • Schedule H: This is a tax form utilized by household employers to report the wages, taxes withheld, and other pertinent information regarding their household employees.

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