Tax Regulations for Nannies and Housekeepers

A cozy, detailed illustration of a smiling nanny and housekeeper sitting at a kitchen table, surrounded by tax forms and a calculator, with a cup of coffee and a potted plant in the background, in a w

Understanding Tax Regulations for Nanny and Housekeeper Employment

Hiring a nanny or housekeeper brings about a significant relief in a household’s daily schedule but it also introduces a set of tax obligations that an employer needs to handle. This involves understanding a variety of terms under tax laws that classify nannies and housekeepers not as independent contractors, but generally as household employees. Here is a guide to help you navigate through the tax regulations associated with employing a nanny or housekeeper.

Classification of Nannies and Housekeepers

It’s important to determine how someone you hire will be classified. The IRS stipulates that workers like nannies or housekeepers are usually considered household employees rather than independent contractors if they work in your home and you control what work is done and how it is done. This classification affects how you handle taxes and report to the IRS.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Once you’ve classified your nanny or housekeeper as a household employee, the first step in tax compliance is to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number is necessary for reporting taxes and other documents to the IRS and for state tax agencies. Applying for an EIN can be done online on the IRS website and is typically straightforward and fast.

Handling Taxes for Household Employees

As an employer, you have specific responsibilities:

  • Social Security and Medicare Taxes (FICA): As the employer, you are responsible for withholding Social Security and Medicare taxes if the wages paid are more than the IRS threshold for a given tax year. Both the employee and employer contributions are 7.65% each, which totals 15.3%.
  • Federal Income Tax Withholding: You may choose to withhold federal income tax from your employee’s wages if agreed upon. This requires having your employee fill out a W-4 form at the start of their employment, which will guide you on how much federal tax they would like withheld.
  • Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA): You are also responsible for paying unemployment taxes under the FUTA. This applies if you pay wages of $1,000 or more in a calendar quarter to household employees.

Reporting and Paying the Taxes

You must file Schedule H with your federal tax return if you pay your nanny or housekeeper in a way that obligates you to withhold or pay tax. You can also file Schedule H separately if you are not required to file a tax return yourself. Payments for FICA and FUTA taxes must be made using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or can be attached as checks along with your completed forms.

Legal Benefits and Requirements

Along with tax requirements, you should also be aware of other legal obligations that come with employing household staff. Depending on your location, you may need to provide workers’ compensation insurance, and you need to comply with labor laws concerning minimum wage, overtime, paid time off, and any other employment protections your state provides. Compliance with these laws not only ensures a fair working environment but also protects you from potential legal action.

State Tax Obligations

Employing a nanny or housekeeper might also subject you to state employment taxes. Each state has its own set of requirements for employment taxes and reporting, which could include state income tax withholding, unemployment tax contributions, and more. It is essential to check with your state’s tax agency or a local tax professional for specifics.


Navigating the tax regulations involved with employing a nanny or housekeeper can seem daunting. However, it is crucial from a legal and ethical standpoint. Properly managing these responsibilities not only ensures compliance with tax laws but also contributes to a professional and respectful work relationship with those who help manage your household. Consider consulting with a professional tax advisor to understand fully or navigate any complexities specific to your situation.

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