What Is Social Security Tax Withheld on Tips & Should I Include It in My Total Wages Withheld?

What Is Social Security Tax Withheld on Tips & Should I Include It in My Total Wages Withheld?
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What does Social Security tips mean on a W-2 form? In the grand scheme of things, do tips really matter with regard to taxable income? Yes, they do. Both cash and non-cash tips are usually part of your taxable compensation, and you need to understand how the IRS treats tips and what Social Security tax is withheld to accommodate them.

How Are Taxes Withheld From Social Security for Tips?

If you’re in an industry where you are customarily tipped for your services, you are already probably familiar with how it works. You faithfully report your tips to your employer, and trust that the appropriate taxes are being withheld. While this is true in most cases, it is always a good idea to understand exactly what the tax implications of being a tipped employee are.

Social Security taxes are part of payroll deductions known as Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA taxes. Because Social Security taxes are mandatory, the IRS does not allow you to deduct them on your taxes.

What Are the Social Security Tips Taxes?

Since the IRS considers any tips you receive to be part of your wages or income, you are required to report cash tips totaling $20​ or more per month to your employer. In addition, you may also have to pay taxes on this income.

Your employer will deduct federal income, state and local tax as well as Medicare and Social Security taxes from your income. Because you include your tips along with your standard pay, the process of filing taxes on your tips is no different than it is for someone filing taxes on any other source of income.

Each year, the IRS releases income minimums that must be reached before you are required to file taxes. When your income reaches this threshold, depending upon your age and filing status, you must file a tax return for the year. There are, of course, Social Security loopholes for seniors, but these are an exception rather than a standardized rule for most working adults.

FICA Tax Rates

Social Security and Medicare contributions are collectively known as FICA or Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes, and are mandatory payroll deductions that both employees and employers must pay.

So, what percentage is withheld for social security? Usually, social Security accounts for 6.2 percent​ of this tax, and the Medicare contribution is ​1.45 percent​. Because employers and employees are responsible for making these contributions, the total amount of FICA taxes collected are ​15.3 percent​.

Social Security Tax Thresholds

There is a threshold on the amount of your income that is subject to Social Security tax. For tax year 2021, this amount is ​$142,800. It represents a ​$5,100​ increase from the 2020 income threshold. And for the tax year 2022, the threshold will increase to ​$147,000​.

However, you need to remember that there is no limitation on the amount of your income that is subject to the other component of FICA tax – Medicare. In fact, you may end up paying an additional ​0.9 percent​ as Medicare tax if your income exceeds the set threshold.

There is also a lesser known aspect of FICA taxes that are imposed on wages in excess of ​$125,000​ for married filing separately status, ​$250,000​ for taxpayers who are married filing jointly and ​$200,000​ for all other taxpayers. This ​0.9 percent​ Medicare surtax, also known as the Additional Medicare Tax, went into effect on January 1, 2013, as a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

Understanding social security benefits strategy options such as these are absolutely critical.

Tip Income Reporting

When you file taxes on your wages, including your allocated tips, you have to complete the IRS Form 1040, "U.S. Individual Income Tax Return." To your 1040, you also need to attach the IRS Form 4137, "Social Security and Medicare Tax on Unreported Tip Income."

Use Form 4137 to report tips allocated to you by your employer, based on the amount in Box 8 of your Form W-2, "Wage and Tax Statement," that employers are required to send out to employees by January 31 of the new year.

Because Social Security taxes, along with Medicare contributions, are mandatory payroll taxes, the IRS does not allow you to deduct these on your tax return. You can include federal income taxes that you have paid in the year, in hopes of a refund, but Social Security and Medicare taxes cannot be deducted.