If you work as an employee in the United States, you must pay social security and Medicare taxes in most cases. Your payments of these taxes contribute to your coverage under the U.S. social security system. Social security coverage provides retirement benefits, survivors and disability benefits, and medical insurance (Medicare) benefits to individuals who meet certain eligibility requirements.
In most cases, the first $102,000 of taxable wages received in 2008 for services performed in the United States is subject to social security tax. All taxable wages are subject to Medicare tax. Your employer deducts these taxes from each wage payment. Your employer must deduct these taxes even if you do not expect to qualify for social security or Medicare benefits. You can claim a credit for excess social security tax on your income tax return if you have more than one employer and the amount deducted from your combined wages for 2008 is more than $6,324. Use the appropriate worksheet in chapter 3 of Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, to figure your credit.
If any one employer deducted more than $6,324, you cannot claim a credit for that amount. Ask your employer to refund the excess.
In general, U.S. social security and Medicare taxes apply to payments of wages for services performed as an employee in the United States, regardless of the citizenship or residence of either the employee or the employer. In limited situations, these taxes apply to wages for services performed outside the United States. Your employer should be able to tell you if social security and Medicare taxes apply to your wages. You cannot make voluntary payments if no taxes are due. taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039397
Generally, services performed by you as a nonresident alien temporarily in the United States as a nonimmigrant under subparagraph (F), (J), (M), or (Q) of section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act are not covered under the social security program if the services are performed to carry out the purpose for which you were admitted to the United States. This means that there will be no withholding of social security or Medicare taxes from the pay you receive for these services. These types of services are very limited, and generally include only on-campus work, practical training, and economic hardship employment.
Social security and Medicare taxes will be withheld from your pay for these services if you are considered a resident alien as discussed in chapter 1, even though your nonimmigrant classification ("F," "J," "M," or "Q") remains the same.
Services performed by a spouse or minor child of nonimmigrant aliens with the classification of "F-2," "J-2," "M-2," and "Q-3" are covered under social security.taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039398
If you are a nonresident alien temporarily admitted to the United States as a student, you generally are not permitted to work for a wage or salary or to engage in business while you are in the United States. In some cases, a student admitted to the United States in "F-1," "M-1," or "J-1" status is granted permission to work. Social security and Medicare taxes are not withheld from pay for the work unless the student is considered a resident alien.
Any student who is enrolled and regularly attending classes at a school may be exempt from social security and Medicare taxes on pay for services performed for that school.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permits on-campus work for students in "F-1" status if it does not displace a U.S. resident. On-campus work means work performed on the school's premises. On-campus work includes work performed at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school. On-campus work under the terms of a scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship is considered part of the academic program of a student taking a full course of study and is permitted by the USCIS. Social security and Medicare taxes are not withheld from pay for this work unless the student is considered a resident alien.
Students in "F-1" status may be permitted to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training includes work/study programs, internships, and cooperative education programs. In this case, the educational institution endorses the Form I-20. Social security and Medicare taxes are not withheld from pay for this work unless the student is considered a resident alien.
Employment due to severe economic necessity and for optional practical training is sometimes permitted for students in "F-1" status. Students granted permission to work due to severe economic necessity or for optional practical training will be issued Form I-688B or Form I-766 by the USCIS. Social security and Medicare taxes are not withheld from pay for this work unless the student is considered a resident alien.
Students in "M-1" status who have completed a course of study can accept employment for practical training for up to 6 months and must have a Form I-688B or Form I-766 issued by the USCIS. Social security and Medicare taxes are not withheld from "M-1" students' pay for these services unless the student is considered a resident alien.
In all other cases, any services performed by a nonresident alien student are not considered as performed to carry out the purpose for which the student was admitted to the United States. Social security and Medicare taxes will be withheld from pay for the services unless the pay is exempt under the Internal Revenue Code. taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039400
Nonresident aliens are temporarily admitted to the United States as nonimmigrant exchange visitors under section 101(a)(15)(J) of the Immigration and Nationality Act through the sponsorship of approved organizations and institutions that are responsible for establishing a program for the exchange visitor and for any later modification of that program. Generally, an exchange visitor who has the permission of the sponsor can work for the same reasons as the students discussed above.
Social security and Medicare taxes are not withheld on pay for services of an exchange visitor who has been given permission to work and who possesses or obtains a letter of authorization from the sponsor unless the exchange visitor is considered a resident alien.
In all other cases, services performed by an exchange visitor are not considered as performed to carry out the purpose for which the visitor was admitted to the United States. Social security and Medicare taxes are withheld from pay for the services unless the pay is exempt under the Internal Revenue Code.
If you are a "J-1" visa holder, your spouse or child may be permitted to work in the United States with the prior approval of the USCIS and issuance of Form I-688B or Form I-766.
Nonresident aliens temporarily admitted to the United States as participants in international cultural exchange programs under section 101(a)(15)(Q) of the Immigration and Nationality Act may be exempt from social security and Medicare taxes. The employer must be the petitioner through whom the alien obtained the "Q" visa. Social security and Medicare taxes are not withheld from pay for this work unless the alien is considered a resident alien. Aliens with "Q" visas are not permitted to engage in employment outside the exchange program activities. taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039401
If social security or Medicare taxes were withheld in error from pay that is not subject to these taxes, contact the employer who withheld the taxes for a refund. If you are unable to get a full refund of the amount from your employer, file a claim for refund with the Internal Revenue Service on Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. Attach the following items to Form 843.
- A copy of your Form W-2 to prove the amount of social security and Medicare taxes withheld.
- A copy of your visa.
- Form I-94 (or other documentation showing your dates of arrival or departure).
- If you have an F-1 visa, Form I-20.
- If you have a J-1 visa, Form DS-2019.
- If you are engaged in optional practical training or employment due to severe economic necessity, Form I-766 or Form I-688B.
- A statement from your employer indicating the amount of the reimbursement your employer provided and the amount of the credit or refund your employer claimed or you authorized your employer to claim. If you cannot obtain this statement from your employer, you must provide this information on your own statement and explain why you are not attaching a statement from your employer or on Form 8316 claiming your employer will not issue the refund.
- If you were exempt from social security and Medicare tax for only part of the year, pay statements showing the tax paid during the period you were exempt.
File Form 843 (with attachments) with the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Philadelphia, PA 19255. taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039402
Self-employment tax is the social security and Medicare taxes for individuals who are self-employed. Nonresident aliens are not subject to self-employment tax. Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or American Samoa are considered U.S. residents for this purpose and are subject to the self-employment tax.
Resident aliens must pay self-employment tax under the same rules that apply to U.S. citizens. However, a resident alien employed by an international organization, a foreign government, or a wholly-owned instrumentality of a foreign government is not subject to the self-employment tax on income earned in the United States.
Self-employment income you receive while you are a resident alien is subject to self-employment tax even if it was paid for services you performed as a nonresident alien. taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039403
Bill Jones is an author engaged in the business of writing books. Bill had several books published in a foreign country while he was a citizen and resident of that country. During 2008, Bill entered the United States as a resident alien. After becoming a U.S. resident, he continued to receive royalties from his foreign publisher. Bill reports his income and expenses on the cash basis (he reports income on his tax return when received and deducts expenses when paid). Bill's 2008 self-employment income includes the royalties received after he became a U.S. resident even though the books were published while he was a nonresident alien. This royalty income is subject to self-employment tax.taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039404
Use Schedule SE (Form 1040) to report and figure your self-employment tax. Then enter the tax on Form 1040, line 57, and attach Schedule SE to Form 1040.taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039405
If you must pay self-employment tax, you can deduct one-half of the self-employment tax paid in figuring your adjusted gross income. taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039406
Get Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, for more information about self-employment tax.taxmap/pubs/p519-043.htm#en_us_publink100039407
The United States has entered into social security agreements with foreign countries to coordinate social security coverage and taxation of workers employed for part or all of their working careers in one of the countries. These agreements are commonly referred to as totalization agreements. Under these agreements, dual coverage and dual contributions (taxes) for the same work are eliminated. The agreements generally make sure that social security taxes (including self-employment tax) are paid only to one country. Agreements are in effect with the following countries.
- Czech Republic (effective January 1, 2009).
- Korea, South.
- The Netherlands.
- Poland (effective March 1, 2009).
- The United Kingdom.
Agreements with other countries are expected to enter into force in the future.
Generally, under these agreements, you are subject to social security taxes only in the country where you are working. However, if you are temporarily sent to work for the same employer in the United States and your pay would normally be subject to social security taxes in both countries, most agreements provide that you remain covered only by the social security system of the country from which you were sent. You can get more information on any agreement by contacting the U.S. Social Security Administration at the address given later. If you have access to the Internet, you can get more information at www.socialsecurity.gov/international
To establish that your pay is subject only to foreign social security taxes and is exempt from U.S. social security taxes (including the Medicare tax) under an agreement, you or your employer should request a certificate of coverage from the appropriate agency of the foreign country. This will usually be the same agency to which you or your employer pays your foreign social security taxes. The foreign agency will be able to tell you what information is needed for them to issue the certificate. Your employer should keep a copy of the certificate because it may be needed to show why you are exempt from U.S. social security taxes. Only wages paid on or after the effective date of the agreement can be exempt from U.S. social security taxes.
Some of the countries with which the United States has agreements will not issue certificates of coverage. In this case, either you or your employer should request a statement that your wages are not covered by the U.S. social security system. Request the statement from the following address.
U.S. Social Security Administration
Office of International Programs
P.O. Box 17741
Baltimore, MD 21235-7741
Under most agreements, self-employed individuals are covered by the social security system of the country where they reside. However, under some agreements, you may be exempt from U.S. self-employment tax if you temporarily transfer your business activity to or from the United States.
If you believe that your self-employment income is subject only to U.S. self-employment tax and is exempt from foreign social security taxes, request a certificate of coverage from the U.S. Social Security Administration at the address given earlier. This certificate will establish your exemption from foreign social security taxes.
To establish that your self-employment income is subject only to foreign social security taxes and is exempt from U.S. self-employment tax, request a certificate of coverage from the appropriate agency of the foreign country. If the foreign country will not issue the certificate, you should request a statement that your income is not covered by the U.S. social security system. Request it from the U.S. Social Security Administration at the address given earlier. Attach a photocopy of either statement to Form 1040 each year you are exempt. Also print "Exempt, see attached statement" on the line for self-employment tax.