What is the difference between Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes?

Social Security Payroll Tax

The Social Security payroll tax is 6.2% and is based on each employee's earnings (including wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, etc.) up to a specified annual ceiling, limit, or maximum.

In the calendar year 2018, the Social Security payroll tax rate of 6.2% is applied to each employee's earnings up to the maximum of $128,400. The amount withheld from the employee is also matched by the employer. As a result, the total Social Security tax in 2018 for an employee is equal to 12.4% of each employee's annual earnings up to a maximum earnings amount of $128,400.

In the calendar year 2019, the Social Security payroll tax rate of 6.2% is applied to each employee's earnings up to the maximum of $132,900. The amount withheld from the employee is also matched by the employer. As a result, the total Social Security tax in 2019 for an employee is equal to 12.4% of each employee's annual earnings up to a maximum earnings amount of $132,900.

Medicare Payroll Tax

The Medicare payroll tax is 1.45% and is based on each employee's earnings without limit. The Medicare tax is withheld from each employee's earnings and is also matched by the employer. This makes the total Medicare tax equal to 2.9% on every dollar of earnings. (There is also a Medicare surtax for high income employees and self-employed individuals. However, the Medicare surtax is not matched by the employer.)

FICA Payroll Tax

The combination of Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes is referred to as FICA. We often refer to the FICA tax rate as 7.65% (6.2% Social Security + 1.45% Medicare) of each employee's first $128,400 of annual earnings in 2018 and the first $132,900 of annual earnings in 2019. Each employee's earnings in excess of the annual ceiling amount are taxed only for Medicare at 1.45% for the employee and 1.45% for the employer. (There is also a Medicare surtax that is withheld from high income employees' pay, but the employer does not match the surtax amounts.)

Self-employed persons are responsible for both the employee and employer portions.

Social Security involves retirement and disability benefits. Medicare involves health care for people 65 years of age and older.

Free Debits and Credits Cheat Sheet

347,205
Subscribers
You are already subscribed. This offer is not available to existing subscribers.
Error: You have unsubscribed from this list.
Step 2: Please check your email.