In Tax Tip 2021-108, the IRS reminded students and first time employees some important considerations.
New employees: Employees (w2) – including those who are students – normally have taxes withheld from their paychecks by their employer. When anyone gets a new job, they need to fill out a Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and submit it to their employer. Employers use this form to calculate how much federal income tax to withhold from the new employee’s pay. The Withholding Estimator on IRS.gov can help a taxpayer fill out this form.
Self-employment: Students who take on jobs like baby-sitting, lawn care or gig economy work are generally self-employed. Money earned from self-employment is taxable, and these workers may be responsible for paying taxes directly to the IRS. One way they can do this is by making estimated tax payments during the year.
Note that there are no social security or Medicare withholdings for self-employed when you receive payments from clients, so at the end of the year, there will be a 15% self-employment tax on the net income generated from that activity (in addition to your tax bracket based on your income). Additionally, there is no Federal or State withholding so making estimated tax payments to the tax authorities can avoid an unpleasant surprise at tax time.
Tip income: Students who earn tips as part of their summer income should know tip income is taxable. They should keep a daily log to accurately report tips. They must report cash tips to their employer for any month that totals $20 or more.
Reserve Officers’ Training Corps pay: If a student is in an ROTC program, and receives pay for activities such as summer advanced camp, it is taxable. Other allowances the student may receive – like food and lodging – may not be taxable. The Armed Forces’ Tax Guide on IRS.gov provides details.