How to Calculate Federal Payroll Taxes for a Single Person

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Federal payroll taxes, also called FICA taxes, include the Social Security tax and the Medicare taxes. For accuracy, calculate the two subparts of the federal payroll tax separately because the Social Security tax may not apply to all of your income. As of 2011, the Social Security tax only applies to $106,800 of earned income per year. Unlike the federal income tax, the federal payroll tax does not change based on your marriage status.

Check the payroll tax rates for the Social Security tax and the Medicare tax rate on the Social Security Administration's website. Typically, the Social Security rate is 6.2 percent and the Medicare rate is 1.45 percent. However, in 2011 the Social Security rate has been decreased to 4.2 percent.

Divide the Social Security and Medicare tax rates by100 to convert each to a percentage. For 2011, divide 4.2 percent and 1.45 percent by 100 to get 0.042 and 0.0145.

Multiply the Social Security rate by your paycheck. For example, if your paycheck is $2,000, multiply $2,000 by 0.042 to get $84 in Social Security taxes.

Multiply the Medicare rate by your paycheck. In this example, multiply $2,000 by 0.0145 to get $29 in Medicare taxes.

Add the Social Security tax to the Medicare tax to find the total payroll taxes owed. In this example, add $84 to $29 to find the total payroll taxes to be $113.


  • Check the total Social Security taxes withheld during the year against the annual maximum, which is found by multiplying the Social Security tax by the maximum income subject to Social Security. In 2011, multiply $106,800 by 0.042 to find that the maximum Social Security tax for the year equals $4,485.60. There are no limits for Medicare taxes.


About the Author

Based in the Kansas City area, Mike specializes in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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