How Is Social Security Tax Calculated?

The Previous-Age, Survivors, and Incapacity Insurance coverage program (OASDI) tax—extra generally known as the Social Safety tax—is calculated by taking a set proportion of your earnings from every paycheck. Social Safety tax charges are decided by legislation annually and apply to each staff and employers.

The Social Safety tax charge for workers and employers is 6.2% of worker compensation, for a complete of 12.4%. Those that are self-employed are answerable for the total 12.4%.

The mixed taxes withheld for Social Safety and Medicare are known as the Federal Insurance coverage Contributions Act (FICA). In your pay assertion, Social Safety taxes are known as OASDI, and Medicare is proven as Fed Med/EE. Each Social Safety and Medicare are federal applications that present advantages for retirees, folks with disabilities, and youngsters of deceased employees.

Key Takeaways

  • The Social Safety tax charge for each staff and employers is 6.2% of worker compensation (for a complete of 12.4%).
  • The Social Safety tax charge for many who are self-employed is the total 12.4%.
  • There’s a restrict on the quantity of annual wages or earned earnings topic to taxation, known as a tax cap; in 2022, the utmost quantity of earnings topic to the Social Safety tax is $147,000; in 2023, the utmost is $160,200.
  • A typical grievance with the Social Safety tax is that it’s regressive, which signifies that it’s utilized uniformly no matter earnings, versus a progressive tax, which relies on earnings.

Social Safety Tax Charges

The Social Safety program offers advantages to retirees and those that are in any other case unable to work as a consequence of illness or incapacity. Social Safety usually offers the one supply of constant earnings for individuals who can now not work—particularly for these with modest earnings histories.

As a result of Social Safety is a authorities program geared toward offering a security internet for working residents, it’s funded by a easy withholding tax that deducts a set proportion of pretax earnings from every paycheck. Staff who contribute for no less than 10 years are eligible to gather advantages based mostly on their earnings historical past as soon as they retire or endure a incapacity.

Social Safety advantages are capped at a most month-to-month profit quantity based mostly on earnings historical past. To forestall employees from paying extra in taxes than they will later obtain in advantages, there’s a restrict on the quantity of annual wages or earned earnings topic to taxation, known as a tax cap.

For 2022, the utmost quantity of earnings topic to the OASDI tax is $147,000, capping the utmost annual worker contribution at $9,114. For 2023, the utmost quantity of earnings topic to the tax is $160,200, capping the utmost annual worker contribution at $9,932.40. The quantity is ready by Congress and may change from 12 months to 12 months.

The wage restrict is inflation-indexed yearly and might be present in IRS Publication 15 for many staff, or Publication 51 for agricultural employees. In keeping with IRS Publication 15, wages topic to FICA embrace all earnings acquired for companies carried out, except particularly excluded. The fee would not need to be by money or examine.

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Wages embrace salaries, bonuses, commissions, and paid trip or sick time. Funds in-kind, within the type of items, lodging, meals, clothes, or companies, are additionally included except the worker is a family or agricultural employee.

Elective contributions to a professional retirement plan are additionally topic to FICA. Employer-paid accident or medical health insurance premiums for an worker, together with the worker’s partner and dependents, aren’t wages and aren’t included in FICA. Well being Financial savings Account (HSA) contributions made by the employer are additionally not thought of wages.

For instance, Jeff earns $20,000 per 12 months. He elects to contribute $4,000 to his 401(okay) plan, and his employer matches 25%, or $1,000. His Social Safety wages are $20,000, however his elective deferral contribution remains to be topic to FICA, and the extra quantity contributed by the employer is just not. The Social Safety tax withheld from his pay is $1,240 ($20,000 x 6.2%).

If a person earns greater than the Social Safety tax cap from a couple of employer, they might truly pay extra taxes than required. When an overpayment happens, that quantity is utilized to the person’s federal tax invoice or is refunded. Every employer should nonetheless match the tax contribution, however they don’t obtain a refund even when they change into conscious of the overpayment.

Historical past of Social Safety Tax Charges

The Social Safety tax started in 1937. At the moment, the worker charge was 1%. It has steadily risen through the years, reaching 3% in 1960 and 5% in 1978. In 1990, the worker portion elevated from 6.06% to six.2% however has held regular ever since—except 2011 and 2012.

The Tax Reduction, Unemployment Insurance coverage Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 decreased the contribution proportion to 4.2% for workers for these years; employers had been nonetheless required to pay the total quantity of their contributions.

The tax cap has existed because the inception of this system in 1937 and remained at $3,000 till the Social Safety Amendments Act of 1950. It was then raised to $3,600 with expanded advantages and protection. Further will increase within the tax cap in 1955, 1959, and 1965 had been designed to deal with the distinction in advantages between low-wage and high-wage earners.

The Social Safety tax coverage within the Seventies noticed numerous proposed amendments and re-evaluations. The Nixon Administration was paramount in arguing that tax cap will increase wanted to correlate with modifications within the nationwide common wage index as a way to handle profit ranges for people in several tax brackets.

The 1972 Social Safety Amendments Act needed to be revamped as a consequence of issues with the advantages components that prompted financing issues. A 1977 modification resolved the monetary shortfall and established a tax cap improve construction that correlated with common wage will increase.

Along with maintaining with common wage will increase, the Social Safety tax cap has additionally been elevated to enhance financing inside the system and to supply cheap profit quantities for many who earn higher-than-average wages.

Within the twenty first century, a standard fear is that Social Safety might change into bancrupt as a consequence of longer life expectations and a shrinking worker-to-retiree ratio. Analysts generally recommend elevating the Social Safety tax as a strategy to maintain this system adequately funded; nevertheless, most politicians are hesitant to endorse this place due to overwhelming public sentiment towards it.

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A Regressive Tax

One other frequent grievance with the Social Safety tax is that it’s regressive—that’s, if an individual makes much less cash, a better proportion of their earnings goes to this tax. It’s a regressive tax as a result of it solely applies to earnings as much as a certain quantity. Anybody who earns below $147,000 in 2022 ($160,200 in 2023) has an efficient Social Safety tax charge of 6.2%. Somebody who earns $1 million per 12 months, in contrast, pays a a lot smaller proportion of their whole earnings towards the Social Safety tax.


Medicare’s Hospital Insurance coverage (HI) program is one other authorities program that gives for residents in want and requires a compulsory withholding tax.

Just like the OASDI, the HI tax charge is ready annually by legislation. The HI tax charge is 1.45% for workers and employers. Those that are self-employed should pay each parts, for a complete tax charge of two.9%.

Notably, on March 27, 2020, former President Trump signed a $2 trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus package deal, known as the Coronavirus Help, Reduction, and Financial Safety (CARES) Act, into legislation. The act allowed employers to defer Social Safety payroll taxes by Dec. 31, 2020—50% of the deferred quantity can be due Dec. 31, 2021, and the opposite half by Dec. 31, 2022. The legislation applies to the self-employed, too.

Sure employers may even be eligible to assert a payroll tax credit score for workers whom they proceed to pay however aren’t working as a result of disaster.

Calculating FICA Taxes: An Instance

An worker who makes $165,240 a 12 months collects semi-monthly paychecks of $6,885 earlier than taxes and any retirement-plan withholding. Although Medicare tax is due on your complete wage, solely the primary $147,000 is topic to the Social Safety tax for 2022. Since $147,000 divided by $6,885 is 21.3, this threshold is reached after the twenty second paycheck.

For the primary 21 pay durations, subsequently, the overall FICA tax withholding is the same as ($6,885 x 6.2%) + ($6,885 x 1.45%), or $526.70. Solely the Medicare HI tax is relevant to the remaining three pay durations, so the withholding is decreased to $6,885 x 1.45%, or $99.83. In whole, the worker pays $8,964.27 to Social Safety and $2,395.98 to Medicare annually. Although it doesn’t have an effect on the worker’s take-home pay, the employer should contribute the identical quantity to each applications.

As talked about above, those that are self-employed are thought of each the employer and the worker for tax functions, which means they’re answerable for each contributions. Within the instance above, a self-employed individual with the identical wage pays $17,928.54 to Social Safety and $4,791.96 to Medicare.

What Is the Social Safety Withholding for 2022?

Since 1990, the OASDI tax charge—or the Social Safety tax—has been 6.2%. So, in 2022, the Social Safety withholding charge is 6.2%. This is similar charge for 2023.

How A lot Social Safety Earnings Is Taxable?

Not all taxpayers are required to pay federal earnings taxes on their Social Safety advantages. Sometimes, solely these people who’ve substantial earnings along with their Social Safety advantages are required to pay federal earnings taxes on Social Safety advantages. In case you do need to pay taxes in your Social Safety advantages, you’ll be able to both make quarterly estimated tax funds to the IRS or elect to have federal taxes withheld out of your advantages.

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How a lot of your Social Safety earnings is taxable relies in your mixed earnings. Your mixed earnings is calculated by including your adjusted gross earnings, nontaxable curiosity, and one-half of your Social Safety advantages.

In case you file your federal earnings taxes as a single individual, and your mixed earnings is between $25,000 and $34,000, you’ll have to pay earnings tax on as much as 50% of your advantages. In case your mixed earnings is greater than $34,000, as much as 85% of your advantages could also be taxable. In case your mixed earnings is under $25,000, your whole Social Safety earnings is tax-free.

In case you are married and file a joint return, and also you and your partner have a mixed earnings that’s between $32,000 and $44,000, you’ll have to pay earnings tax on as much as 50% of your advantages. In case your mixed earnings is greater than $44,000, as much as 85% of your advantages could also be taxable. In case your mixed earnings is under $32,000, your whole Social Safety earnings is tax-free.

Lastly, if you’re married and file a separate tax return, you most likely can pay taxes in your advantages. In case you are the recipient of Social Safety advantages, each January you’ll obtain a Type SSA-1099, Social Safety profit assertion. This manner will present the quantity of advantages you acquired within the earlier 12 months and you should use this data if you full your tax return to find out in case your advantages are topic to tax.

Is OASDI the Identical as Social Safety?

The federal OASDI program is the official identify for Social Safety. OASDI is an acronym for Previous-Age, Survivors, and Incapacity Insurance coverage.

How A lot Is Social Safety Taxed at Full Retirement Age?

Even when you work previous full retirement age, you continue to need to make relevant Social Safety contributions in your earnings; nevertheless, when you work previous full retirement age, you may as well improve the quantity of Social Safety advantages you obtain.

When you begin receiving Social Safety advantages, your earnings will decide when you pay earnings tax on a part of your Social Safety earnings.

How A lot Tax Will Be Withheld From My Social Safety Examine?

How a lot taxes are withheld out of your Social Safety examine will depend on how a lot your mixed earnings is.

The Backside Line

Social Safety is taxed on the identical charge for everybody: 6.2% for workers and employers, for a complete of 12.4%. In case you are self-employed, you pay your complete 12.4%. Social Safety is simply taxed as much as a sure earnings degree. In 2022, the cap is $147,000, and in 2023, it’s $160,200. Past this, earnings is just not taxed for Social Safety. That is thought of to be a regressive tax, because the burden is heavier for these making much less earnings. Some consultants recommend rising the cap for wealthier people as a strategy to account for the upcoming shortfall in Social Safety.