TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / General Tax Tips / Who Is Exempt from Paying Social Security Tax?

Who Is Exempt from Paying Social Security Tax?

Updated for Tax Year 2016


OVERVIEW

Most people can't avoid paying Social Security taxes on their employment and self-employment income. There are, however, exemptions available to specific groups of taxpayers.


Just like the income tax, most people can’t avoid paying Social Security taxes on their employment and self-employment income. There are, however, exemptions available to specific groups of taxpayers. If you fall under one of these categories, you can potentially save a significant amount of money. However, if you do take advantage of the exemption, you will be ineligible to receive any of the benefits offered by Social Security.

Qualifying religious exemption

Members of certain religious groups qualify for the exemption, but it must be a recognized religious sect opposed to accepting Social Security benefits. Some of those benefits include payments during retirement and payments in the event of a disability or at death. In addition, the religious group must have existed as of the end of 1950 and must have continuously provided its dependent members with a reasonable standard of living since that time.

The exemption isn’t automatic; you must apply for it by completing Form 4029. The exemption is unavailable if you’ve ever been eligible to receive benefits under the Social Security program regardless of whether you actually received the benefit or not.

Nonresident aliens

Individuals who don’t possess United States citizenship, or aren’t legal residents are classified as nonresident aliens. A nonresident alien working in the U.S. usually pays Social Security tax on any income made here, even if he works for a foreign company.

There are some exceptions. Foreign students and educational professionals in the U.S. on a temporary basis don't have to pay Social Security taxes. Nonresidents working in the U.S. for a foreign government are exempt from paying Social Security taxes on their salaries. Their families and domestic workers can also qualify for the exemption. Many other categories of nonresidents are eligible for the exemption, but, in all cases, the determining factor is the type of visa the nonresident possesses.

Temporary student exemption

Students working for the same school they’re enrolled at may be temporarily exempt from paying Social Security taxes. However, only students who obtain employment because of their enrollment qualify. In other words, if you work full-time in the registrar’s office of a university, and take advantage of the tuition-free enrollment the university offers its employees, you don’t qualify. If you attend school full-time, and the university offers you a part-time job that’s contingent on your continued enrollment, you do qualify. That only applies to the wages you earn at the university, not wages you earn from other employers.

Foreign government employees

Employees of foreign governments are generally exempt from paying Social Security taxes on income paid to them as a result of their official responsibilities. As long as the foreign government employee is working in an official capacity on official business related to his employment, he does not have to pay Social Security on his pay. The Social Security exemption does not apply to servants of employees of a foreign government or the official’s children or spouse unless they are also employed by the foreign government.

Income limitations

Taxpayers ineligible for these Social Security tax exemptions may be happy to know the tax is imposed only on a maximum amount of income per year. Although not an “exemption” per se, the income you earn in excess of the applicable maximum for the year is effectively exempt from Social Security tax.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99*
Sign In

Looking for more information?

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • TURBOTAX ONLINE/MOBILE

  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Absolute Zero $0 federal (1040EZ/1040A) + $0 state offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • QuickBooks Self-Employed Offer with TurboTax Self-Employed: File your 2016 TurboTax Self-Employed return between 4/19/17 and 10/16/17 to receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed until 10/31/18. Activation by 12/31/17 required. Sign in to QuickBooks Self-Employed via mobile app or at https://selfemployed.intuit.com/turbotax; e-mail address used for activation and sign-in. Offer valid only for new QuickBooks Self-Employed customers. See QuickBooks.com for price comparison.
    • When you use TurboTax Self-Employed to file your 2017 taxes, you will have the option to renew your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription. If you do not purchase TurboTax Self-Employed by 10/15/18, you will have the option of renewing your QuickBooks Self-Employed subscription by 10/31/18 for another year at the then-current annual subscription rate. You may cancel your subscription at any time from within the QuickBooks Self-Employed billing section.
  • Pays for itself (TurboTax Self-Employed): Estimates based on deductible business expenses calculated at the self-employment tax income rate (15%) for tax year 2016. Actual results will vary based on your tax situation.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Expert Help, Tax Advice and SmartLook: Included with Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed (via phone or on-screen); not included with Federal Free Edition (but available for purchase with the Plus bundle). SmartLook on-screen help is available on a PC, laptop or the TurboTax mobile app. TurboTax experts provide general advice, customer service and product help; tax advice provided only by credentialed CPAs, enrolled agents and tax attorneys. Feature availability varies by device. State tax advice is free. Service, area of expertise, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice.
  • Tax Return Access, My Docs and My Analysis & Advice features: Access to all tax-related documents we have on file for you is available until you file your 2017 tax return or through 10/31/2018, whichever comes first. Terms and conditions may vary and are subject to change without notice.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2015 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • CompleteCheck: Covered under the TurboTax accurate calculations and maximum refund guarantees.
  • #1 rated online tax prep provider: Based on independent comparison of the best online tax software by TopTenReviews.com March 13, 2017.
  • TURBOTAX CD/DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE

  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected in March. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except TurboTax Business.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice via phone is included with Premier and Home & Business; fees apply for Basic and Deluxe customers. State tax advice is free. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2016 TurboTax products.
  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies; may require a free Intuit online account. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2016 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2012 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.