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Medical Resident FICA Refund Claims: Reason for Refunds

Why are FICA refunds being paid to medical residents and their employers?

Employers (typically hospitals and medical schools) and individual taxpayers (medical residents) began filing FICA refund claims in the 1990’s, based on their position that medical residents are students eligible for the FICA tax exception under Internal Revenue Code section 3121(b)(10). This is referred to as the student exception and may apply to a student at a school, college or university who is also an employee of that school, college or university. The employer’s FICA refund claims were for both the employer share and the employee share of the FICA tax.  In some cases, individual medical residents filed their own claim for the employee share of the FICA tax. The IRS held the claims in suspense because there was a dispute as to whether the student FICA exception applied.  The IRS has made an administrative determination to accept the position that medical residents are excepted from FICA taxes for tax periods ending before April 1, 2005, when new IRS regulations  went into effect.