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Tax Tips for Family Members Working in a Family Business

CPA Practice Advisor

November 5, 2019

One of the advantages of someone running their own business is hiring family members. But when including family members in business operations, certain tax treatments and employment tax rules apply. Here are some facts to know when working with a spouse, parent or child.

Both spouses carrying on the trade or business

If spouses carry on a business together and share in the profits and losses, they may be partners whether or not they have a formal partnership agreement. If so, they should report income or loss from the business on Form 1065. They should not report the income on a Schedule C (Form 1040) in the name of one spouse as a sole proprietor. But, the spouses can elect not to treat the joint venture as a partnership by making a qualified joint venture election.

Employment taxes

If the business has employees, either of the spouses as sole proprietors may report and pay the employment taxes. The spouse, as an employer, must have an EIN for their sole proprietorship. If the business filed or paid employment taxes for part of the year under the partnership's EIN, the spouse may be considered the employee’s “successor employer” for purposes of figuring whether wages reached the Social Security and federal unemployment wage base limits. One spouse employed by another. The wages for the services of an individual who works for their spouse are subject to income tax withholding and Social Security and Medicare taxes but not to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA).

Child employed by parents. Payments for the services of a child under age 18 aren’t subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes, if the business is a sole proprietorship or a partnership in which each partner is a parent of the child. Payments to a child under age 21 aren’t subject to FUTA. Payments are subject to income tax withholding, regardless of the child’s age.

Parent employed by child. The wages for the services of a parent employed by their child are subject to income tax withholding and Social Security and Medicare taxes. They’re not subject to FUTA tax.

As usual, there is a lot more to it than listed above.  Please feel free to reach out to us for more information related to your situation.

 

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