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Nanny Tax


The nanny tax refers to the combination of Social Security, Medicare, and federal and state unemployment taxes that US employers are mandated to pay when hiring a household employee, like a nanny, who earns a certain amount annually. These taxes are typically withheld from the employee’s salary and paid directly to the government by the employer. By properly managing the nanny tax, employers comply with the law and ensure that their household employees receive appropriate benefits and protections.


The phonetic spelling of the keyword “Nanny Tax” is: /ˈnæni tæks/It can also be expressed in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as:Nanny: [ˈnæni]Tax: [tæks]

Key Takeaways

  1. Nanny Tax refers to the taxes that a household employer needs to pay for employing a household worker such as a nanny, caretaker, or housekeeper.
  2. Household employers are required to withhold and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes, and, in some cases, federal and state unemployment taxes for their employee(s) if they meet the income threshold and criteria specified by the IRS for the respective tax year.
  3. Properly managing nanny taxes ensures compliance with tax laws, helps avoid penalties, and provides benefits to both the employer and employee such as social security and unemployment benefits.


The “Nanny Tax” is an important business/finance term because it refers to the employment taxes that a household employer is required to pay for their hired domestic caregivers, such as nannies, babysitters, or housekeepers. These taxes ensure compliance with federal and state labor laws, contribute to the employees’ social security and Medicare funds, and provide a legal framework for their worker’s compensation and unemployment benefits. As a result, proper management of the nanny tax not only protects the employer from potential legal and financial issues, but it also promotes the fair treatment and welfare of employees in the domestic service industry.


The Nanny Tax serves as a mechanism to ensure that household employees, such as nannies, housekeepers, and caretakers, receive the appropriate legal and financial protections and benefits. Due to the somewhat informal nature of these employment relationships, it is crucial to have the Nanny Tax in place to promote fair labor practices and adherence to tax laws. The main purpose of the Nanny Tax is to facilitate the proper payment of Social Security, Medicare, and federal and state income taxes for these workers, as well as to provide them with access to benefits such as unemployment insurance. From the employer’s perspective, the Nanny Tax promotes compliance with tax laws and helps to avoid potential fines and penalties that could arise from not properly filing and paying taxes for household employees. By adhering to the applicable Nanny Tax rules, employers also help to create a transparent and legally-sound work arrangement, fostering an environment of trust and professionalism. This also benefits the worker, as they are entitled to the same legal protections and benefits as any other employee, thereby promoting fair working conditions and financial security. In essence, the Nanny Tax is a crucial tool in ensuring ongoing compliance with the law while ensuring the well-being and security of both the employer and the household employee.


Example 1: A family hires a full-time nanny to take care of their two young children while they go to work. The nanny works for more than forty hours a week and earns an income above the annual threshold set by the IRS. In this situation, the family is responsible for paying the Nanny Tax, which includes Social Security, Medicare, and potentially federal and state unemployment taxes. Example 2: A busy, dual-income couple hires a live-in housekeeper to help maintain their home and assist with daily errands. The housekeeper’s earnings exceed the annual threshold set by the IRS, and the couple provides room and board as part of the compensation package. In this case, the couple must calculate the Nanny Tax based on the housekeeper’s wages and adhere to all applicable tax regulations, including reporting the housekeeper’s wages on a Schedule H and providing the employee with a W-2 form. Example 3: An elderly woman requires additional assistance in her daily living activities and hires a home health aide to assist with personal care, medication management, and light household duties. The home health aide is paid above the IRS threshold and works directly for the elderly woman without any involvement from a home care agency. In this scenario, the elderly woman or her representative must pay the Nanny Tax based on the aide’s earnings to comply with tax regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Nanny Tax?
The Nanny Tax refers to the mandatory taxes, including Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes, that employers must withhold and pay for their household employees, such as nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers.
Who is considered a household employee and subject to the Nanny Tax?
A household employee is someone who works in a private home performing services for an individual or family, and the employer has the control over how the work is performed. Examples include nannies, housekeepers, caregivers, and babysitters who work over a certain number of hours per week.
What are the criteria for paying Nanny Tax?
If you pay a household employee more than $2,300 per year (as of 2021), you are required to withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, as well as report the wages to the IRS. Additionally, if you pay more than $1,000 in any calendar quarter, you are responsible for paying federal unemployment taxes.
How much do I need to withhold for Social Security and Medicare taxes?
As an employer, you are required to withhold 7.65% of your employee’s gross pay for Social Security and Medicare taxes, while also contributing an equal amount. This means that a total of 15.3% of their gross pay will go towards these taxes.
What is the deadline for filing and paying the Nanny Tax?
The Nanny Tax must be filed and paid annually, typically on the same schedule as your personal income tax return. In most cases, this deadline is April 15. However, be sure to consult the IRS or a tax professional for any changes or specific requirements.
How do I report and pay the Nanny Tax?
Employers are required to file Schedule H (Household Employment Taxes) along with their federal income tax return (Form 1040). This form includes the calculation of taxes owed for Social Security, Medicare, and federal unemployment taxes. Payment can be made through the IRS Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) or via check with the proper payment voucher.
Do I need to provide my household employee with any tax documents?
Yes, you are required to give your employee a Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) by January 31 of the following year. This form outlines their wages, tax withholdings, and other relevant information that they will need when filing their individual tax return.
Are there any additional state taxes or requirements for household employees?
State requirements for household employees may vary, including additional state unemployment taxes, workers’ compensation insurance, or state tax withholding. It is important to consult your state’s department of revenue or a tax professional to ensure compliance with all applicable state laws.
Can I claim a tax credit for the taxes paid for my household employee?
Yes, you may be eligible for tax credits such as the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit or a flexible spending account (FSA) for childcare expenses, which can help offset the Nanny Tax expenses. Consult a tax professional or the IRS for specific eligibility requirements and details on claiming these credits.

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