Tax & Accounting Blog

Hire Your Family, Lower Your Taxes

CS Professional Suite Payroll Solutions June 2, 2014

Note: This article was updated on 10/31/2014.

For business owners, hiring family members as employees can lead to significant tax savings. And in many cases, those savings extend to the family members as well as the business owner. Sole proprietorships and corporations are both entitled to tax savings when they hire family members, but the amount of savings varies according to business type.

Sole Proprietorships:  Sole proprietors stand to save them most when they employ family members. They’re entitled to special savings when they employ either a child or a spouse.

  • Employing children:  Sole proprietors who employ their own children are exempt from paying Social Security tax and FICA on their wages until the children reach 18. They are also exempt from paying FUTA tax until the children turn 21. And, employers can deduct any wages paid to those children from their net income for tax purposes. The children are exempt from paying FICA as well.
  • Employing spouses:  Employing a spouse may offer some significant advantages for sole proprietors, including possible FICA tax savings – assuming the spouse has already exceeded the maximum annual FICA wage limit from his or her job outside the household or family business. For 2015, this limit is $118,500.

    Employing spouses can also open new health insurance options. This stems from the fact that the owners of sole proprietors are not permitted to have health insurance premiums automatically deducted from their wages, nor are they permitted to deduct health insurance premiums from their taxable income. However, this rule doesn’t apply to the spouses of sole proprietors. So, as an employee of the sole proprietor, the spouse could sign up for the company’s health insurance and include the sole proprietor on the policy.

Corporations:  Corporation owners who employ their own children under 18 can deduct wages paid to those children from their income taxes. This applies up to the earned income limit after which the child would have to file an income tax return. Last year, this limit was $6,100.

Hiring family members can be more than just a source of trustworthy help; it can also result in significant tax savings, especially for sole proprietors. Detailed information about the tax implications of hiring family members is included on the IRS website.