Payments for Casual Labor

Occasionally, you may pay workers to do work that does not promote or advance your business. For example, during a slow business period you may pay an employee to do some work around your home. Or, you may pay one of your computer technicians to set up your personal home computer. In any event, special rules apply to the amounts you pay your employees for such "casual" labor. Unless certain dollar thresholds are met, your payments to those employees will not constitute taxable wages for payroll tax purposes. Furthermore, noncash payments for casual labor are generally not taxable. On the other hand, you can't deduct your payments for personal services as a business expense.

Income and unemployment taxes. You're not required to withhold federal and most state income taxes or to pay federal (FUTA) and state unemployment taxes with respect to your cash payments to an employee for casual labor unless:

  • the cash payment is $50 or more in a calendar quarter, and
  • the employee was engaged in casual labor for some portion of 24 different days during that quarter or during the preceding calendar quarter.

FICA taxes. You're not required to withhold or pay FICA taxes with respect to your cash payments to an employee for casual labor unless the payments amount to $100 or more during the calendar year.

Domestic services. Generally, you're not required to withhold or pay federal income tax for domestic services performed by an employee in your home. You do have to pay FICA taxes for cash payments of over $1,800 (for 2012 and for 2013) to domestic service employees, but noncash payments are exempt from FICA taxes. And if you pay domestic workers $1,000 or more per calendar quarter in the current or preceding calendar year, you are subject to FUTA taxes. An exception to the FUTA requirement applies to wages paid to a spouse, parent, or child under the age of 21.

Related Resources

Which Payroll Taxes Apply?

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