John R. Bullis: If you own an S corporation, should you hire your child?

tax tips phrase made from metallic letterpress type on wooden tray

tax tips phrase made from metallic letterpress type on wooden tray

The new Tax Law for 2018 and later provides a $12,000 standard deduction (instead of itemized deductions) for single taxpayers.

If your child earns wages of $12,000 or less in 2018, the child files a tax return, but pays no tax.

The owner of a business that files Schedule C of form 1040 gets big tax savings by hiring their child (or children). If you own an S corporation, the savings are reduced but still worthwhile.

S and C corporations must report the wages paid to children and the corporation also has to pay the FICA and Medicare taxes on those wages as additional payroll tax expenses.

The child has FICA and Medicare taxes withheld from the wages. That means the child will only get a net paycheck, just like other employees.

But suppose you hire a child in 2018 and pay the child $10,000 of wages.

Your corporation will incur about $785 in employer FICA and Medicare taxes. Your corporation will also have to pay worker compensation and unemployment taxes, let’s estimate the total cost to the corporation is $1,000 in addition to the $10,000 of wages, for a total of $11,000.

Each child who earned $10,000 of wages will have about $785 withheld for FICA and Medicare taxes for a net check of $9,215.

So your corporation pays out about $11,000 and your child pays about $785 for a total of $11,785.

Your corporation deducts the $11,000 expenses and that reduces your corporation profits. If you’re paying 24 percent income taxes, that’s a savings of about $2,640. The net check to the child of $9,215 plus the S corporation reduced profits savings of about $2,640 equals $11,855 total to the family. If you’re paying tax at the 32 percent tax rate, your savings are about $3,520, for $12,735 total family savings.

To increase the total to the family of $70 (or $950 if the 32 percent rate applies) isn’t bad for only one year.

The payroll taxes do reduce the family benefit more if you had a sole owner business, but it might help your child (children) learn good skills as an employee and they might even save some of their wages.

Your child might also be able to contribute to a ROTH IRA for long-term benefits.

Did you hear? “Raising children does not come with a manual!” by Deb King.

John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment