Hiring Your Child as an Employee: A Comprehensive Guide to Tax Savings

Hiring your child as an employee for your family business can offer significant tax benefits for both parties. This guide will delve into the intricacies of hiring your child, exploring the eligibility criteria, tax implications, and potential pitfalls to ensure you maximize these benefits while adhering to IRS regulations.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for the tax benefits of hiring your child, several eligibility criteria must be met:

  • Age: Your child must be under the age of 18 to be exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • Legitimate Work: The work performed by your child must be necessary and related to the business’s operations. Personal tasks or excessive compensation may raise red flags with the IRS.
  • Fair Wages: Your child must be compensated fairly, commensurate with the work performed and comparable to non-family employees.
  • Employment Laws: Treat your child like any other employee, adhering to tax withholding, form filing, and other employment laws.
  • Documentation: Maintain accurate records of hours worked, wages paid, and taxes withheld.

Tax Implications

Employer Tax Deductions:

As an employer, you can deduct your child’s wages as a business expense, reducing your taxable income.

Child’s Tax Savings:

Your child can earn up to the standard deduction amount tax-free. For 2023, this amount is $13,850. If your child is claimed as a dependent on your tax return, they can claim a standard deduction of $1,250 or their earned income plus $400, up to the full standard deduction amount.

Payroll Tax Exemptions:

If your child is under 18, their wages are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes. However, once they reach age 21, you will be responsible for paying federal unemployment taxes on their wages.

Potential Pitfalls

While hiring your child can be beneficial, there are potential pitfalls to be aware of:

  • Excessive Pay: The IRS may scrutinize unusually high pay rates for children, as they should be commensurate with the work performed.
  • Personal Tasks: Assigning personal tasks or excessive compensation to your child may jeopardize the tax benefits.
  • Documentation Errors: Failure to maintain proper documentation can invalidate the tax deductions and expose you to IRS penalties.

Hiring your child as an employee can be a tax-saving strategy, but it requires careful adherence to IRS regulations. By following the eligibility criteria, understanding the tax implications, and avoiding potential pitfalls, you can maximize these benefits while ensuring compliance with the law.

Additional Tips

  • Consult with a financial advisor or tax professional to ensure hiring your child is the right decision for your specific situation.
  • Use a written employment agreement to outline the terms of employment, including job duties, compensation, and tax withholding.
  • Keep detailed records of all wages paid, hours worked, and taxes withheld.
  • File all necessary tax forms and make timely tax payments to avoid penalties.

Hiring Your Children in Your Family Business (Legally, step-by-step)


At what age can I put my child on payroll IRS?

Payments for the services of a child are subject to income tax withholding regardless of age. Payments for the services of a child under age 18 are not subject to social security and Medicare taxes.

Can I pay my child as a 1099?

If the salary is less than $12,950, there is no need to pay income tax as well. However, if you pay on a 1099, the child will have to pay self-employment taxes.

Can I deduct wages paid to my child?

You can deduct the salaries you pay your children from your business income, reducing your overall taxable profit. The amount you pay your child is taxed at the child’s tax rate, which is likely lower than yours if you’re in a higher tax bracket.

Can you add your kid to your payroll?

When your child performs the work, you will pay them as you would pay any employee and issue a W-2 for your child; there are no FICA, FUTA, or SUTA due or withheld. If you did not issue a W-2 to your child, list it as “outside labor” as another expense.

Leave a Comment