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

Answer:

Your status as a full-time student doesn't exempt you from federal income taxes. If you're 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:

  • The amount of your earned and unearned income
  • Whether you can be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return
  • Your filing status, and
  • Your age

If your income is below the amount of the filing requirement for your age, filing status, and dependency status, and no other filing requirements apply, you don't owe federal taxes on your income and you don't have to file a federal income tax return. Even if you're not required to file an income tax return, you may choose to file a return if you're entitled to a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax, or you're eligible for a refundable credit. For more information on filing requirements, refer to Do I Need to File a Tax Return? and Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.

See Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, and Can You Claim Exemption from Withholding on Form W-4? 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.

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What can I do if an employer won't withhold income taxes, social security and Medicare from my pay?

Answer:

Generally, if an employer doesn't withhold federal income taxes, social security and Medicare from your pay, your employer is treating you as an independent contractor (self-employed person). First verify with your employer if they consider you an employee or an independent contractor.

If you believe an employer-employee relationship exists and you can't resolve this matter with your employer, you should submit a Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding. Chapter 2 of Publication 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide, covers the factors used to determine if an employer-employee relationship exists.

If your status as an employee isn't at issue, it may be that either you perform a category of service that's not employment for federal employment tax purposes or your pay is in a category that's not wages for federal employment tax purposes. Find out from your employer why they're not withholding social security and Medicare taxes, and income taxes from your pay.

If your employer considers you an independent contractor, you are responsible for paying your own income tax and self-employment tax (Self-Employment Contributions Act – SECA). You may need to make estimated tax payments during the year to cover your tax liabilities.

 

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