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previous page Previous Page: Publication 15-A - Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide (Supplement to Circular E, Employer's Tax Guide, Publication 15) - 5. Wages and Other Compensation
next page Next Page: Publication 15-A - Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide (Supplement to Circular E, Employer's Tax Guide, Publication 15) - 7. Special Rules for Paying Taxes
 Use previous pagenext page to find additional occurrences of topic items.Index for this Publication
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052267

6. Sick Pay Reporting(p14)


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Sick Pay Reporting

Special rules apply to the reporting of sick pay payments to employees. How these payments are reported depends on whether the payments are made by the employer or a third party, such as an insurance company.
Sick pay is usually subject to social security, Medicare, and FUTA taxes. For exceptions, see Social Security, Medicare, and FUTA Taxes on Sick Pay later. Sick pay may also be subject to either mandatory or voluntary federal income tax withholding, depending on who pays it.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052268

Sick Pay(p14)


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previous topic occurrence Sick Pay next topic occurrence

Sick pay generally means any amount paid under a plan because of an employee's temporary absence from work due to injury, sickness, or disability. It may be paid by either the employer or a third party, such as an insurance company. Sick pay includes both short- and long-term benefits. It is often expressed as a percentage of the employee's regular wages.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052269

Payments That Are Not Sick Pay(p14)


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Payments That Are Not Sick Pay

Sick pay does not include the following payments.
  1. Disability retirement payments. Disability retirement payments are not sick pay and are not discussed in this section. Those payments are subject to the rules for federal income tax withholding from pensions and annuities. See section 8.
  2. Workers' compensation. Payments because of a work-related injury or sickness that are made under a workers' compensation law are not sick pay and are not subject to employment taxes. But see Payments in the nature of workers' compensation—public employees next.
  3. Payments in the nature of workers'  
    compensation—public employees.
    State and local government employees, such as police officers and firefighters, sometimes receive payments due to an injury in the line of duty under a statute that is not the general workers' compensation law of a state. If the statute limits benefits to work-related injuries or sickness and does not base payments on the employee's age, length of service, or prior contributions, the statute is "in the nature of" a workers' compensation law. Payments under a statute in the nature of a workers' compensation law are not sick pay and are not subject to employment taxes. For more information, get Treasury Decision 9233. See Treasury Decision 9233, 2006-3 I.R.B. 303, available at  
    www.irs.gov/irb/2006-03_IRB/ar10.html.
  4. Medical expense payments. Payments under a definite plan or system for medical and hospitalization expenses, or for insurance covering these expenses, are not sick pay and are not subject to employment taxes.
  5. Payments unrelated to absence from work. Accident or health insurance payments unrelated to absence from work are not sick pay and are not subject to employment taxes. These include payments for:
    1. Permanent loss of a member or function of the body,
    2. Permanent loss of the use of a member or function of the body, or
    3. Permanent disfigurement of the body.
    Example. Donald was injured in a car accident and lost an eye. Under a policy paid for by Donald's employer, Delta Insurance Co. paid Donald $5,000 as compensation for the loss of his eye. Because the payment was determined by the type of injury and was unrelated to Donald's absence from work, it is not sick pay and is not subject to federal employment taxes.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052270

Sick Pay Plan(p14)


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Sick Pay Plan

A sick pay plan is a plan or system established by an employer under which sick pay is available to employees generally or to a class or classes of employees. This does not include a situation in which benefits are provided on a discretionary or occasional basis with merely an intention to aid particular employees in time of need.
You have a sick pay plan or system if the plan is in writing or is otherwise made known to employees, such as by a bulletin board notice or your long and established practice. Some indications that you have a sick pay plan or system include references to the plan or system in the contract of employment, employer contributions to a plan, or segregated accounts for the payment of benefits.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052271

Definition of employer.(p14)


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The employer for whom the employee normally works, a term used in the following discussion, is either the employer for whom the employee was working at the time that the employee became sick or disabled or the last employer for whom the employee worked before becoming sick or disabled, if that employer made contributions to the sick pay plan on behalf of the sick or disabled employee.
Note.Contributions to a sick pay plan through a cafeteria plan (by direct employer contributions or salary reduction) are employer contributions unless they are after-tax employee contributions (that is, included in taxable wages).
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052273

Third-Party Payers of Sick Pay(p15)


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Third-Party Payers of Sick Pay

taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052274

Employer's agent.(p15)


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An employer's agent is a third party that bears no insurance risk and is reimbursed on a cost-plus-fee basis for payment of sick pay and similar amounts. A third party may be your agent even if the third party is responsible for determining which employees are eligible to receive payments. For example, if a third party provides administrative services only, the third party is your agent. If the third party is paid an insurance premium and is not reimbursed on a cost-plus-fee basis, the third party is not your agent. Whether an insurance company or other third party is your agent depends on the terms of their agreement with you.
A third party that makes payments of sick pay as your agent is not considered the employer and generally has no responsibility for employment taxes. This responsibility remains with you. However, under an exception to this rule, the parties may enter into an agreement that makes the third-party agent responsible for employment taxes. In this situation, the third-party agent should use its own name and EIN (rather than your name and EIN) for the responsibilities that it has assumed.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052275

Third party not employer's agent.(p15)


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A third party that makes payments of sick pay other than as an agent of the employer is liable for federal income tax withholding (if requested by the employee) and the employee part of the social security and Medicare taxes.
The third party is also liable for the employer part of the social security and Medicare taxes and the FUTA tax, unless the third party transfers this liability to the employer for whom the employee normally works. This liability is transferred if the third party takes the following steps:
  1. Withholds the employee social security and Medicare taxes from the sick pay payments,
  2. Makes timely deposits of the employee social security and Medicare taxes, and
  3. Notifies the employer for whom the employee normally works of the payments on which employee taxes were withheld and deposited. The third party must notify the employer within the time required for the third party's deposit of the employee part of the social security and Medicare taxes. For instance, if the third party is a monthly schedule depositor, it must notify the employer by the 15th day of the month following the month in which the sick pay payment is made because that is the day by which the deposit is required to be made. The third party should notify the employer as soon as information on payments is available so that an employer required to make electronic deposits can make them timely. For multi-employer plans, see the special rule discussed next.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052276

Multi-employer plan timing rule.(p15)
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A special rule applies to sick pay payments made to employees by a third-party insurer under an insurance contract with a multi-employer plan established under a collectively bargained agreement. If the third-party insurer making the payments complies with steps 1 and 2 above and gives the plan (rather than the employer) the required timely notice described in step 3 above, then the plan (not the third-party insurer) must pay the employer part of the social security and Medicare taxes and the FUTA tax. Similarly, if within six business days of the plan's receipt of notification, the plan gives notice to the employer for whom the employee normally works, the employer (not the plan) must pay the employer part of the social security and Medicare taxes and the FUTA tax.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052277

Reliance on information supplied by the employer.(p15)


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A third party that pays sick pay should request information from the employer to determine amounts that are not subject to employment taxes. Unless the third party has reason not to believe the information, it may rely on that information for the following items.
The third party should not rely on statements regarding these items made by the employee.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052278

Social Security, Medicare, and FUTA Taxes on Sick Pay(p15)


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Social Security, Medicare, and FUTA Taxes on Sick Pay

taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052279

Employer.(p15)


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If you pay sick pay to your employee, you must generally withhold employee social security and Medicare taxes from the sick pay. You must timely deposit employee and employer social security and Medicare taxes and FUTA tax. There are no special deposit rules for sick pay. See section 11 of Publication 15 (Circular E) for more information on the deposit rules.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052280

Amounts not subject to social security, Medicare, or FUTA taxes.(p15)


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The following payments, whether made by the employer or a third party, are not subject to social security, Medicare, or FUTA taxes (different rules apply to federal income tax withholding).
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052281

Income Tax Withholding on Sick Pay(p16)


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Income Tax Withholding on Sick Pay

The requirements for federal income tax withholding on sick pay and the methods for figuring it differ depending on whether the sick pay is paid by:
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052282

Employer or employer's agent.(p16)


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Sick pay paid by you or your agent is subject to mandatory federal income tax withholding. An employer or agent paying sick pay generally determines the federal income tax to be withheld based on the employee's Form W-4. The employee cannot choose how much will be withheld by giving you or your agent a Form W-4S. Sick pay paid by an agent is treated as supplemental wages. If the agent does not pay regular wages to the employee, the agent may choose to withhold federal income tax at a flat 25% rate, rather than at the wage withholding rate. See section 7 in Publication 15 (Circular E) for the flat rate (35%) when supplemental wage payments to an individual exceed $1,000,000 during the year.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052283

Third party not an agent.(p17)


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Sick pay paid by a third party that is not your agent is notsubject to mandatory federal income tax withholding. However, an employee may elect to have federal income tax withheld by submitting Form W-4S to the third party.
If Form W-4S has been submitted, the third party should withhold federal income tax on all payments of sick pay made 8 or more days after receiving the form. The third party may, at its option, withhold federal income tax before 8 days have passed.
The employee may request on Form W-4S to have a specific whole dollar amount withheld. However, if the requested withholding would reduce any net payment below $10, the third party should not withhold any federal income tax from that payment. The minimum amount of withholding that the employee can specify is $4 per day, $20 per week, or $88 per month based on the payroll period.
Withhold from all payments at the same rate. For example, if $25 is withheld from a regular full payment of $100, then $20 (25%) should be withheld from a partial payment of $80.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052284

Amounts not subject to income tax withholding.(p17)


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The following amounts, whether paid by you or a third party, are not wages subject to federal income tax withholding.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052285

Depositing and Reporting(p17)


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Depositing and Reporting

This section discusses who is liable for depositing social security, Medicare, FUTA, and withheld federal income taxes on sick pay. These taxes must be deposited under the same rules that apply to deposits of taxes on regular wage payments. See Publication 15 (Circular E) for information on the deposit rules.
This section also explains how sick pay should be reported on Forms W-2, W-3, 940, and 941 (or Form 944).
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052286

Sick Pay Paid by Employer or Agent(p17)


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Sick Pay Paid by Employer or Agent

If you or your agent (defined earlier) make sick pay payments, you deposit taxes and file Forms W-2, W-3, 940, and 941 (or Form 944) under the same rules that apply to regular wage payments.
However, the agreement between the parties may require your agent to carry out responsibilities that would otherwise have been borne by you. In this situation, your agent should use its own name and EIN (rather than yours) for the responsibilities that it has assumed.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052287

Reporting sick pay on Form W-2.(p17)


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You may either combine the sick pay with other wages and prepare a single Form W-2 for each employee, or you may prepare separate Forms W-2 for each employee, one reporting sick pay and the other reporting regular wages. A Form W-2 must be prepared even if all of the sick pay is nontaxable (see Box 12 below in the list of information that must be included on Form W-2). All Forms W-2 must be given to the employees by January 31.
The Form W-2 filed for the sick pay must include the employer's name, address, and EIN; the employee's name, address, and SSN; and the following information.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052288

Sick Pay Paid by Third Party(p17)


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Sick Pay Paid by Third Party

The rules for a third party that is not your agent depend on whether liability has been transferred as discussed under Third-Party Payers of Sick Pay earlier.
To figure the due dates and amounts of its deposits of employment taxes, a third party should combine:
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052289

Liability not transferred to the employer.(p18)


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If the third party does not satisfy the requirements for transferring liability for FUTA tax and the employer's part of the social security and Medicare taxes, the third party reports the sick pay on its own Form 940 and Form 941 or Form 944. In this situation, the employer has no tax responsibilities for sick pay.
The third party must deposit social security, Medicare, FUTA, and withheld federal income taxes using its own name and EIN. The third party must give each employee to whom it paid sick pay a Form W-2 by January 31 of the following year. The Form W-2 must include the third party's name, address, and EIN instead of the employer information. Otherwise, the third party must complete Form W-2 as shown in Reporting sick pay on Form W-2 earlier.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052290

Liability transferred to the employer.(p18)


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Generally, if a third party satisfies the requirements for transferring liability for the employer part of the social security and Medicare taxes and for the FUTA tax, the following rules apply.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052291

Deposits.(p18)
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The third party must make deposits of withheld employee social security and Medicare taxes and withheld federal income tax using its own name and EIN. You must make deposits of the employer part of the social security and Medicare taxes and the FUTA tax using your name and EIN. In applying the deposit rules, your liability for these taxes begins when you receive the third party's notice of sick pay payments.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052292

Form 941 or Form 944.(p18)
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The third party and you must each file Form 941 or Form 944. This discussion only explains how to report sick pay on Form 941. If you file Form 944, use the lines on that form that correspond to the lines on Form 941 that are discussed here.
Line 7b of each Form 941 must contain a special adjusting entry for social security and Medicare taxes. These entries are required because the total tax liability for social security and Medicare taxes (employee and employer parts) is split between you and the third party.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052293

Form 940.(p18)
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You, not the third party, must prepare  
Form 940 for sick pay.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052294

Third-party sick pay recap Forms W-2 and W-3.(p18)
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The third party must prepare a "Third-Party Sick Pay Recap" Form W-2 and a "Third-Party Sick Pay Recap" Form W-3. These forms, previously called "Dummy" forms, do not reflect sick pay paid to individual employees, but instead show the combined amount of sick pay paid to all employees of all clients of the third party. The recap forms provide a means of reconciling the wages shown on the third party's Form 941 or Form 944. However, see Optional rule for Form W-2 below. Do not file the recap Form W-2 and W-3 electronically.
The third party fills out the third-party sick pay recap Form W-2 as follows.
The third party attaches the third-party sick pay recap Form W-2 to a separate recap Form W-3, on which only boxes b, e, f, g, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 13 are completed. Enter "Third-Party Sick Pay Recap" in box 13. Only the employer makes an entry in box 14 of Form W-3.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052295

Optional rule for Form W-2.(p18)
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You and the third party may choose to enter into a legally binding agreement designating the third party to be your agent for purposes of preparing Forms W-2 reporting sick pay. The agreement must specify what part, if any, of the payments under the sick pay plan is excludable from the employees' gross incomes because it is attributable to their contributions to the plan. If you enter into an agreement, the third party prepares the actual Forms W-2, not the "Third-Party Sick Pay Recap" Form W-2 as discussed earlier, for each employee who receives sick pay from the third party. If the optional rule is used:
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052296

Sick pay statement.(p19)
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The third party must furnish you with a sick pay statement by January 15 of the year following the year in which the sick pay was paid. The statement must show the following information about each employee who was paid sick pay.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052297

Example of Figuring and Reporting Sick Pay(p19)


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Dave, an employee of Edgewood Corporation, was seriously injured in a car accident on January 1, 2008. Dave's last day of work was December 31, 2007. The accident was not job related.
Key, an insurance company that was not an agent of the employer, paid Dave $2,000 each month for 10 months, beginning in January 2008. Dave submitted a Form W-4S to Key, requesting $210 be withheld from each payment for federal income tax. Dave received no payments from Edgewood, his employer, from January 2008 through October 2008. Dave returned to work in November 2008.
For the policy year in which the car accident occurred, Dave paid a part of the premiums for his coverage, and Edgewood paid the remaining part. The plan was, therefore, a "contributory plan." During the 3 policy years before the calendar year of the accident, Edgewood paid 70% of the total of the net premiums for its employees' insurance coverage, and its employees paid 30%.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052298

Social security and Medicare taxes.(p19)
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For social security and Medicare tax purposes, taxable sick pay was $8,400 ($2,000 per month × 70% = $1,400 taxable portion per payment; $1,400 × 6 months = $8,400 total taxable sick pay). Only the six $2,000 checks received by Dave from January through June are included in the calculation. The check received by Dave in July (the seventh check) was received more than 6 months after the month in which Dave last worked.
Of each $2,000 payment Dave received, 30% ($600) is not subject to social security and Medicare taxes because the plan is contributory and Dave's after-tax contribution is considered to be 30% of the premiums during the 3 policy years before the calendar year of the accident.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052299

FUTA tax.(p19)
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Of the $8,400 taxable sick pay (figured the same as for social security and Medicare taxes), only $7,000 is subject to the FUTA tax because the FUTA contribution base is $7,000.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052300

Federal income tax withholding.(p19)
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Of each $2,000 payment, $1,400 ($2,000 × 70%) is subject to voluntary federal income tax withholding. In accordance with Dave's Form W-4S, $210 was withheld from each payment ($2,100 for the 10 payments made during 2008).
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052301

Liability transferred.(p19)
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For the first 6 months following the last month in which Dave worked, Key was liable for social security, Medicare, and FUTA taxes on any payments that constituted taxable wages. However, Key could have shifted the liability for the employer part of the social security and Medicare taxes (and for the FUTA tax) during the first 6 months by withholding Dave's part of the social security and Medicare taxes, timely depositing the taxes, and notifying Edgewood of the payments.
If Key shifted liability for the employer part of the social security and Medicare taxes to Edgewood and provided Edgewood with a sick pay statement, Key would not prepare a Form W-2 for Dave. However, Key would prepare "Third-Party Sick Pay Recap" Forms W-2 and W-3. Key and Edgewood must each prepare Form 941. Edgewood must also report the sick pay and withholding for Dave on Forms W-2, W-3, and 940.
As an alternative, the parties could have followed the optional rule described under Optional rule for Form W-2 earlier. Under this rule, Key would prepare Form W-2 even though liability for the employer part of the social security and Medicare taxes had been shifted to Edgewood. Also, Key would not prepare a sick pay statement, and Edgewood, not Key, would prepare the recap Forms W-2 and W-3 reflecting the sick pay shown on Edgewood's Form 941.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052302

Liability not transferred.(p19)
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If Key did not shift liability for the employer part of the social security and Medicare taxes to Edgewood, Key would prepare Forms W-2 and W-3 as well as Forms 941 and 940. In this situation, Edgewood would not report the sick pay.
taxmap/pubs/p15a-005.htm#en_us_publink100052303

Payments received after 6 months.(p19)
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The payments received by Dave in July through October are not subject to social security, Medicare, or FUTA taxes, because they were received more than 6 months after the last month in which Dave worked (December 2007). However, Key must continue to withhold federal income tax from each payment because Dave furnished Key with a Form W-4S. Also, Key must prepare Forms W-2 and W-3, unless it has furnished Edgewood with a sick pay statement. If the sick pay statement was furnished, then Edgewood must prepare  
Forms W-2 and W-3.
previous pagePrevious Page: Publication 15-A - Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide (Supplement to Circular E, Employer's Tax Guide, Publication 15) - 5. Wages and Other Compensation
next pageNext Page: Publication 15-A - Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide (Supplement to Circular E, Employer's Tax Guide, Publication 15) - 7. Special Rules for Paying Taxes
 Use previous pagenext page to find additional occurrences of topic items.Index for this Publication