Tax Withholding for Seasonal and Part-time Employees
By: Tax Hotline
Spring 2021 (Vol. 39, No. 1)
Many businesses hire part-time or full-time workers, especially in the summer. The IRS classifies these employees as seasonal workers, defined as an employee who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis (i.e., six months or less). Examples of this kind of work include retail workers employed exclusively during holiday seasons, sports events, or during the harvest or commercial fishing season. Part-time and seasonal employees are subject to the same tax withholding rules that apply to other employees.
All taxpayers fill out a W-4 when starting a new job. Employers use this form to determine the amount of tax to be withheld from your paycheck. Taxpayers (including students) with multiple summer jobs will want to make sure all their employers withhold an adequate amount of taxes to cover their total income tax liability.
Any changes a part-year employee makes to their withholding amount have a more significant impact on their paycheck than for employees who work year-round. As such, now is an excellent time to perform a “paycheck check-up” using the Withholding Calculator, a special tool on the IRS website (www.IRS. gov) that can help taxpayers with part-year employment estimate their income, credits, adjustments, and deductions more accurately. It also checks to see whether a taxpayer is having the correct amount of tax withheld for their financial situation.
First, the calculator asks about the dates of a taxpayer’s employment and accounts for a part-year employee’s shorter employment rather than assuming that their weekly tax withholding amount would be applied to a full year.
Next, the calculator makes recommendations for part-year employees accordingly. If a taxpayer has more than one part-year job, the Withholding Calculator can account for this as well.
Taxpayers should have a completed prior-year tax return available and will also need their most recent pay stub before using the Withholding Calculator.
Calculator results depend on the accuracy of information entered. If a taxpayer’s circumstances change during the year, they should return to the calculator to check whether they should adjust their withholding. For taxpayers who work for only part of the year, it’s best to do a “paycheck check-up” early in their employment period, so their tax withholding is most accurate from the start.
The Withholding Calculator does not request personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, address, or bank account numbers. The IRS does not save or record the information entered on the calculator.
If the calculator results indicate a change in withholding amount, the employee should complete a new Form W-4 and should submit it to their employer as soon as possible. Employees with a change in personal circumstances that reduces the number of withholding allowances should submit a new Form W-4 with corrected withholding allowances to their employer within ten days of the change.
As a seasonal or part-time worker, you may not be required to file a federal or state return if the wages you earn at a part-time or seasonal job are less than the standard deduction; however, if you work more than one job, you may end up owing tax.