What are the Social Security Tax Rates?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2019
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In the United States, taxpayers are required to pay Social Security taxes based on their incomes. The percentage of income taxpayers are required to pay is referred to as the Social Security tax rate. Usually, Social Security tax rates remain constant year after year, but they are subject to change. Most employees, however, don’t have to figure out the rate at which they have to pay Social Security taxes, as employers normally apply the current rates and handle the deduction of these taxes from employee paychecks. Self-employed individuals, on the other hand, are responsible for calculating the required amount of taxes and paying them to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is the organization that handles federal taxes in the United States.

Social security tax rates are used in calculating the amount of money each taxpayer must pay for Social Security each year. Fortunately, taxpayers and those responsible for payroll do not have to guess about the payments they owe. Instead, they can refer to fact sheets on the Social Security Administration or IRS websites that provide current Social Security tax rates. Usually, such charts provide information about the maximum amount of income that can be taxed for Social Security each year as well as the Social Security tax rates set for employees, employers, and self-employed individuals.


In most cases, an individual who is classified as an employee does not pay as much out of pocket for Social Security taxes as a self-employed person might. This is due to the fact that Social Security tax rates for employees are usually much lower than those set for the self-employed. Typically, an employee pays only half of the Social Security taxes due from his own income, and his employer matches this amount. A self-employed person, on the other hand, must pay the entire amount of Social Security taxes on his own. The required contribution per taxpayer is usually the same without regard to whether the taxpayer is an employee or a self-employed individual.

To understand how Social Security tax rates are handled for employees versus self-employed individuals, it helps to consider an example. An employee might be required to pay Social Security taxes at a rate of 6.2 percent, for instance, and his employer would have to match this amount. This results in a total payment of 12.4 percent for that employee. A self-employed person, on the other hand, would have to pay the entire amount of Social Security taxes on his own. The 12.4 percent would come out of the self-employed person’s pocket.


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