Withholding and paying FICA tax on nonqualified deferred compensation can be a tricky business.  Because special timing rules apply to FICA tax, employers can’t simply withhold and pay FICA tax when they pay deferred compensation to the employee.  Instead, FICA tax is due when the deferred compensation vests (or, in some cases, when the amount of the deferred compensation can be determined).

It is not always easy to tell when these triggering events occur.  In fact, it is sometimes hard to tell whether compensation is “deferred compensation” that is subject to the special timing rules.  Employers faced with these complications often discover long after the fact that they have failed to withhold and pay FICA tax on deferred compensation when the tax was due.  The additional 0.9% Medicare tax introduced in 2013 makes these errors much more difficult to correct.
Continue Reading New Medicare Tax Makes FICA Errors Harder to Correct

The Affordable Care Act created two new taxes for individuals whose income exceeds $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing joint returns).  Employees must pay an additional 0.9% Medicare tax on wages in excess of these dollar thresholds.  Individuals whose adjusted gross income exceeds the dollar thresholds also must pay a 3.8% tax on their net investment income.

Both taxes became effective in 2013, but high-income employees will pay the taxes for the first time next year, when they file their 2013 tax returns.  Employers are required to withhold the 0.9% additional Medicare tax, and are liable for any amount they fail to withhold.

The IRS recently published a final regulation and an updated set of FAQs interpreting the additional Medicare tax.  The IRS also published a final regulation, a new proposed regulation, and updated FAQs interpreting the tax on net investment income.
Continue Reading IRS Issues Guidance on New Medicare Taxes for High-Income Employees