Many nonprofit organizations are exempt from federal income tax. Although they do not have to pay federal income tax themselves, they must still withhold federal income tax from the pay of their employees. However, there are special social security, Medicare, and federal unemployment (FUTA) tax rules that apply to the wages that they pay their employees.taxmap/pubs/p15a-002.htm#en_us_publink1000169524
Nonprofit organizations that are exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code include any community chest, fund, or foundation organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary or educational purposes, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals. These organizations are usually corporations and are exempt from federal income tax under section 501(a).taxmap/pubs/p15a-002.htm#en_us_publink1000169525
Wages paid to employees of section 501(c)(3) organizations are subject to social security and Medicare taxes unless one of the following situations applies.
- The organization pays an employee less than $100 in a calendar year.
- The organization is a church or church-controlled organization opposed for religious reasons to the payment of social security and Medicare taxes and has filed Form 8274, Certification by Churches and Qualified Church-Controlled Organizations Electing Exemption From Employer Social Security and Medicare Taxes, to elect exemption from social security and Medicare taxes. The organization must have filed for exemption before the first date on which a quarterly employment tax return (Form 941) or annual employment tax return (Form 944) would otherwise be due.
An employee of a church or church-controlled organization that is exempt from social security and Medicare taxes must pay self-employment tax if the employee is paid $108.28 or more in a year. However, an employee who is a member of a qualified religious sect can apply for an exemption from the self-employment tax by filing Form 4029, Application for Exemption From Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Waiver of Benefits. See Members of recognized religious sects opposed to insurance in section 4 on page 10.taxmap/pubs/p15a-002.htm#en_us_publink1000169526
An organization that is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is also exempt from FUTA tax. This exemption cannot be waived.
An organization wholly owned by a state or its political subdivision should contact the appropriate state official for information about reporting and getting social security and Medicare coverage for its employees.
Nonprofit organizations that are not section 501(c)(3) organizations may also be exempt from federal income tax under section 501(a) or section 521. However, these organizations are not exempt from withholding federal income, social security, or Medicare tax from their employees' pay, or from paying FUTA tax. Two special rules for social security, Medicare, and FUTA taxes apply.
- If an employee is paid less than $100 during a calendar year, his or her wages are not subject to social security and Medicare taxes.
- If an employee is paid less than $50 in a calendar quarter, his or her wages are not subject to FUTA tax for the quarter.
The above rules do not apply to employees who work for pension plans and other similar organizations described in section 401(a).