Hiring Your Minor Children For Summer Jobs
If you’re a business owner and you hire your children this summer, you can obtain tax breaks and other nontax benefits. The kids can gain on-the-job experience, save for college and learn how to manage money. And you may be able to:
- Shift some of your high-taxed income into tax-free or low-taxed income, and
- Realize payroll tax savings (depending on the child’s age and how your business is organized).
Plus, you can spend more time with your kids.
A legitimate job
If you hire your child, you get a business tax deduction for employee wage expenses. In turn, the deduction reduces your federal income tax bill, your self-employment tax bill (if applicable) and your state income tax bill (if applicable). However, for your business to deduct the wages as a business expense, the work performed by the child must be legitimate and the child’s pay must be reasonable.
Let’s say you operate as a sole proprietor and you’re in the 37% tax bracket. You hire your 16-year-old daughter to help with office work on a full-time basis during the summer and part-time into the fall. Your daughter earns $10,000 during 2022 and doesn’t have any other earnings.
You save $3,700 (37% of $10,000) in income taxes at no income tax cost to your daughter. She can use her standard deduction of $12,950 for 2022 to completely shelter her earnings.
Your family’s taxes are cut even if your daughter’s earnings exceed her standard deduction. Why? The unsheltered earnings will be taxed to your daughter beginning at a rate of 10%, instead of being taxed at your higher rate.
How payroll taxes might be saved
If your business isn’t incorporated and certain other conditions are met, your child’s wages are exempt from Social Security, Medicare and FUTA taxes. Your child must be under age 18 for this to apply (or under age 21 for the FUTA tax exemption). Contact us for how this works.
Be aware that there’s no FICA or FUTA exemption for employing a child if your business is incorporated or a partnership that includes nonparent partners. And payments for the services of your child are subject to income tax withholding, regardless of age, no matter what type of entity you operate.
Keep accurate records
Hiring your child can be a tax-smart idea. Be sure to keep the same records as you would for other employees to substantiate the hours worked and duties performed (such as timesheets and job descriptions). Issue your child a Form W-2. Contact us with questions about how these rules apply to your situation.
After Filing Your Taxes, What Records Can You Toss?
If you’ve filed your 2021 tax return, you may want to do some spring cleaning, starting with tax-related paper clutter. Paring down is good. Just be careful to hold on to essential records that may be needed in the event of an IRS audit. Some documents may be needed to help you collect a future refund or assist with filing your return next year. Before you start tossing or shredding documents, read the rules to learn what must be kept (and for how long) and what can be safely discarded.
The general rules
At a minimum, you should keep tax records for as long as the IRS can audit your tax return or assess additional taxes. That’s usually three years after you file your return. This means you potentially can get rid of most records related to tax returns for 2018 and earlier years.
However, the statute of limitations extends to six years for taxpayers who understate their adjusted gross income by more than 25%. What constitutes an understatement may go beyond simply not reporting items of income. So, to be safe, a general rule of thumb is to save tax records for six years from filing.
Keep some records longer
You need to hang on to some tax-related records beyond the statute of limitations. For example:
- Keep the tax returns themselves indefinitely, so you can prove to the IRS that you did file a legitimate return. (If you didn’t file a return or if you filed a fraudulent return, there’s no statute of limitations.)
- Retain W-2 forms until you begin receiving Social Security benefits. That may seem long, but if questions arise regarding your work record or earnings for a particular year, you’ll need your W-2 forms to help provide the documentation needed.
- Keep records related to real estate or investments for as long as you own the assets, plus at least three years after you sell them and report the sales on your tax return (or six years if you want extra protection).
- Hang on to records associated with retirement accounts until you’ve depleted the accounts and reported the last withdrawal on your tax return, plus three (or six) years.
If you’re still not sure about a specific document, feel free to ask us.
Other reasons to retain records
Keep in mind that these are the federal tax record retention guidelines. Your state and local tax record requirements may differ. In addition, lenders, co-op boards and other private parties may require you to produce copies of your tax returns as a condition of lending money, approving a purchase or otherwise doing business with you. Contact us with questions or concerns about recordkeeping.