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Household employee

Household employee is an important tax term. Bankrate explains it.

What is a household employee?

A household employee is a person who performs non-business services for a taxpayer in or around a taxpayer’s home. This includes child care and other dependent care, housecleaning, cooking and yardwork. The taxpayer may be liable for employment taxes for the household employee.

Deeper definition

Household employees are any workers who perform services in your house, unrelated to any other business activity that may occur within your home. Household employee responsibilities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Baby sitter
  • Butler
  • Caretaker
  • Cook
  • Domestic worker
  • Driver
  • Health aide or home health nurse
  • Housekeeper
  • Maid
  • Nanny
  • Landscape workers

Household employees are distinct from contractors you use to perform services on your house, like your contracted pest service. Someone qualifies as a household employee only if they follow your directives to perform their main job duties.

A household employee may be employed on a full- or part-time basis, and because of their status as an employee, you owe them certain responsibilities as an employer. This is particularly important when it comes to the matter of taxation.

If your household employee ears more than $2,000 in a given year, you must pay their Social Security and Medicare taxes, at the rate of 15.3 percent of their cash wages. This equals the 7.65 percent that you owe as an employer and your household employee’s 7.65 percent responsibility as an employee.

Additionally, if your household employee earns more than $1,000 in a year, you must pay their federal unemployment tax of 6 percent of cash wages, up to $7,000, and may be liable to pay state unemployment tax as well.

Household employee example

If you work from home and run your own business with employees, they are not household employees. Rather, they are employees of your company.

If you hire a nanny, however, to care for your kids during the workday so that you can focus on running your business, then your nanny is a household employee. Depending on her wages, you may owe Social Security, Medicare and unemployment taxes for the nanny’s income.

Use this calculator to figure out your tax bracket. 

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