Most years, the government bumps up the maximum Social Security taxes that you can pay. For 2017, the maximum wage base jumps to $127,200, an increase of $8,700, or 7.3%, over the max of $118,500 that was in place for 2015 and 2016.
The Social Security Administration predicts that 12 million individuals will end up paying higher taxes due to this increase, out of the estimated 173 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes next year.
At a rate of 6.2%, the maximum Social Security taxes that your employer will withhold from your salary is $7.886. This is $539 higher than the 2016 max of $7,347.
Why such a big increase this year? According to the Social Security Administration, the annual change is based on the National Wage Index.
However, there is an exception built into the rules that the Wage Base doesn’t increase in any years that Benefits don’t increase. That is why the wage base remained at $118,500 for the prior two years, even through the National Wage Index increased from September 2014 to September 2015. This year, we are absorbing two years of increases to the index.
Higher Medicare Taxes Due To The Affordable Care Act:
As we wrote in our August 2012 Newsletter, on June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court upheld most of the provisions of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the increase to the Medicare taxes high-income taxpayers will pay starting in 2013.
Starting in 2013, the employee portion of the Medicare tax jumps from the current rate of 1.45% to 2.35% on earned income in excess of $200k for single individuals and $250k for married couples filing a joint tax return. As of now, the employer will continue to match their employees’ Medicare taxes at a rate of 1.45%, which means the total Medicare tax will be 3.8% for high-income taxpayers. This tax is reported on the Form 8959.
For example, if you’re single, and earn $500k from your job, expect to pay $2,700 in additional Medicare taxes (($500k – $200k) * .9%) for 2013 and beyond.
To increase taxes for high-income individuals even more, the Medicare tax will also apply to unearned income for the first time since this tax was enacted. People over the $200k or $250k threshold should expect to pay Medicare taxes at a rate of 3.8% on interest, dividends, capital gains, and net rental income beginning in 2013. You will pay this tax in addition to any federal and state income taxes due on this income. This tax is reported on the Form 8960.
Calculating the Self-employment Tax:
If you’re self-employed and earn more than $400 in net profit from your business, you’re subject to social security and Medicare taxes as well. Known as the “self-employment tax”, you’ll need to complete a Schedule SE to calculate this tax, and then report the amount due on page 2 of your Form 1040.
The self-employment tax is based on a social security tax rate of 12.4% and a Medicare tax rate of 2.9%. These rates are double those paid by employees, since a self-employed person must pay both the employee’s portion and the employer’s portion of both taxes. Remember, when you work as an employee, your employer matches the Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from your pay.
Unlike most other taxes, when dealing with self-employment taxes, the more you earn, the less you pay in taxes. If you earn income as an employee and as an independent contractor, and your combined income exceeds $118,500 in 2016, make sure to complete Section B of the Schedule SE. Otherwise, your tax calculation will be incorrect and you’ll end up overpaying your self-employment taxes.
Do You Work For More Than One Employer in 2016 and Earn More Than $118,500?
For 2016, each of your employers withholds social security taxes from the first $118,500 that you earn from them. If you work for more than one employer and your total salary from all sources exceeds that threshold, you’ll have excess social security taxes withheld. Make sure to claim a credit for these excess taxes on your 1040 as additional federal taxes paid in.
Let’s say you work for two employers and earn $75,000 from each employer. Employer #1 withholds $4,650 in social security taxes ($75,000 * 6.2%). Employer #2 also withholds $4,650 in social security taxes – for a total of $9,300 in social security taxes withheld during the year. Since the maximum social security taxes that you should pay through payroll withholdings for 2016 is limited to $7,347, the excess of $1,953 counts as additional federal income taxes paid in by you.
|A) Social security taxes withheld by Employer #1||$4,650.00|
|B) Social security taxes withheld by Employer #2||$4,650.00|
|C) Total social security taxes withheld during the year (A+B)||$9,300.00|
|D) Social security max for 2014||$7,347.00|
|E) Excess social security taxes withheld (C-D)||$1,953.00|
A great place to find out more about your social security taxes and projected benefits is at the Social Security Administration’s website located at www.ssa.gov, or learn about what’s new for the 2017 Social Security Changes.
FYI: The social security wage base has been increased each year. The wage base maximum has been increased as follows:
2017 wage base max: $127,200
2015 & 2016 wage base max: $118,500
2014 wage base max: $117,000
2013 wage base max: $113,700
2012 wage base max: $110,100
2009, 2010 & 2011 wage base max: $106,800
2008 wage base max: $102,000
2007 wage base max: $97,500
2006 wage base max: $94,200
2005 wage base max: $90,000
2004 wage base max: $87,900
2003 wage base max: $87,000
2002 wage base max: $84,900
2001 wage base max: $80,400
2000 wage base max: $76,200
1999 wage base max: $72,600
1998 wage base max: $68,400
1997 wage base max: $65,400
1996 wage base max: $62,700
1995 wage base max: $61,200
1994 wage base max: $60,600