In addition to state income taxes, some states impose local business and city taxes. It’s essential to know which tax laws apply. Understanding the rules will help you develop a work-from-home policy that makes sense for your company.
Social Security Tax
In the US, physical location remains a primary determining factor for where workers pay income taxes. As such, employers must comply with state tax laws on a state-by-state basis by ensuring that the correct tax withholding amounts are applied to each employee’s compensation. This is a complicated task for companies that employ remote workers nationwide.
While working remotely has many benefits, employees and management must understand that the tax implications of remote work exist. As the rise of remote work continues, employers must consider these considerations to ensure compliance with local and national policies.
It is also essential for employers to be aware that while many states impose state income taxes, nine states do not: Alaska, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. These states do not have a state income tax because they maintain a constitutional exemption from imposing a state income tax on their residents.
Multistate remote work can be a complex endeavor. Still, it is possible to streamline this process by using a compensation plan that untangles the complexities of federal and state compliance requirements for multistate remote workers. The right solution can save time and money for both you and your employees while providing the freedom that remote work offers.
State Income Tax
As more companies offer remote work arrangements, employees and employers must consider state income tax considerations, especially for multistate work. Remote workers could be subject to double state taxes, depending on the situation.
A company should withhold local and state taxes from paychecks if an employee has a permanent home in one state but works from another. However, it may not be necessary if the two states have a reciprocal agreement or if an employee only works out of state for a limited time.
If an employee stays in the same state but their job takes them to different locations, they typically only pay taxes where they perform their work. In that case, their employer would withhold less or no state tax.
Remote workers who travel for work should keep track of the number of days in each state to avoid overpaying taxes. In addition, independent contractors and freelancers can take business deductions to lower their state and federal income tax. This, in turn, decreases their Medicare and Social Security taxes. However, this option is usually unavailable to employees who are not self-employed.
State Unemployment Tax
The flexibility of working remotely has many benefits for employees and employers. But, it can sometimes create thorny taxation issues. For example, when an employee is working out-of-state — typical for hybrid workers with a mix of commuting and remote work schedules – states have a variety of rules that determine how much they should be paying in state income taxes.
In general, an employer must withhold state unemployment taxes (FUTA) on an employee’s wages if they work in a state other than where the employer is based. The amount that is withheld depends on the number of weeks an employee works in the other state, whether the other state has a reciprocal agreement with the worker’s home state, and, in some cases, the amount of time an out-of-state employee spends working in a particular state.
Most states use an experience-rating system to calculate the FUTA rate for their employers. The higher the FUTA rate, the more a company pays unemployment taxes. Some states also have a FUTA credit reduction, which lowers the amount of FUTA paid by employers who produce it.
In some states, such as Arkansas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, the “convenience of the employer” rule applies. This means that an employee who works out-of-state for less than 20 weeks may be subject to double taxation without any state unemployment tax credit.
If you see Medicare tax deductions on your paycheck, this is a reminder that your employer is fulfilling its payroll responsibilities and funding the Medicare Hospital Insurance program. The current rate is 1.45% of your wages. Both employees and employers pay this amount, which is deducted from your paycheck under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act or FICA.
Like Social Security, you pay Medicare tax on all taxable employment income. This includes salary, overtime, paid time off, and tips. It also applies to commissions, bonuses, severance pay, and taxable fringe benefits. You can check IRS Publication 15 for a comprehensive list of all income subject to Medicare tax withholding.
You may be liable for additional Medicare tax if you make more than $250,000 as a single filer or file jointly as a married filing. Your employer will withhold extra Medicare tax if you earn more than this threshold. This is separate from the regular Medicare tax, which is 2.9% of your taxable earnings.
Medicare taxes fund the Medicare health care program for retirees and those who need help paying for medical care. It offers hospital, hospice, home health care coverage, and preventative services. It was created in 1966 to solve a problem: as incomes declined and medical expenses rose, some people could no longer afford health care.