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IRS.gov Website

Frequently Asked Tax Questions

IRS Procedures - W-4 - Allowances, Excess FICA, Students, Withholding

  1. As a full-time student, am I exempt from federal taxes?
  2. What can I do if an employer will not withhold income taxes, Social Security and Medicare from my pay?

Rev. date: 07/02/2015

As a full-time student, am I exempt from federal taxes?

Status as a full-time student does not exempt you from federal taxes. If you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident, the factors that determine whether you owe federal income taxes or must file a federal income tax return include:
If your income is below the amount of the filing requirement for your age, filing status, and dependency status, and no other filing requirement applies, you do not owe federal taxes on your income and you do not have to file a federal income tax return. Even if you are not required to file an income tax return, you may choose to file a return if you are entitled to a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax, or you are eligible for a refundable credit. For more information on filing requirements, refer to Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.
See Form W-4 (.pdf), Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, to determine if you may claim exemption from income tax withholding. Consider completing a new Form W-4 each year and when your personal or financial situation changes.
For related topics, see Tax Information for Students.

Rev. date: 07/15/2015

What can I do if an employer will not withhold income taxes, Social Security and Medicare from my pay?

Generally, if an employer does not withhold income taxes, Social Security and Medicare from your pay, your employer is treating you as an independent contractor (self-employed person). Verify with your employer if they consider you an employee or an independent contractor.
If you believe an employer-employee relationship exists and you cannot resolve this matter with your employer, you should submit a Form SS-8 (.pdf), Determination of Employee Work Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding. Chapter 2 of Publication 15-A (.pdf), Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide, covers the factors used to determine if an employer-employee relationship exists.
If your status as an employee is not at issue, it may be that you are in a category of employment whose earnings are not wages for federal employment tax purposes. Find out from your employer why they are not withholding Social Security and Medicare taxes, and income taxes from your pay.