How I’m Dealing With Nanny Taxes

Know what taxes you're on the hook for.

An overhead view of a nanny showing a toddler how to paint.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I recently became the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine. To help ensure that I’m prepared to take on this exciting new role, my husband and I decided to hire a nanny to care for our two young children while we work. Having a nanny come to our house frees up time that I previously spent running our children to and from day care. And because I work from home, I can enjoy lunch with my kids or take a walk with them when I need a break from my desk.

The convenience of having an in-home caregiver for your kids comes at a premium price and with considerable tax ramifications. The national average weekly rate for a nanny in 2022 was $701 for one child or $726 for two, according to the most recent Cost of Care survey from That compares with $268 for one child or $510 for two children at a daycare center. And because a nanny is a household employee, the IRS requires you to withhold and pay tax if her income from the nanny job reaches a certain annual minimum threshold — for 2023, it’s $2,600.

Managing the tax complexities.

As a nanny’s employer, you must pay your share of Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes — an amount equal to 7.65% of her wages — as well as federal and state unemployment taxes. In addition, you must withhold from the nanny’s pay her share of FICA tax, which is 7.65% of her wages. The nanny’s earnings are subject to federal and state income tax, too. (The same tax rules apply to any household employee — such as a cook or housekeeper — for whom you control not only the work they do but how they do it; independent contractors who have multiple clients and use their own supplies — say, providers of lawn care or cleaning services — are not household employees.)

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

To simplify the task of withholding and paying tax, I plan to use a payroll service. You can look for a local accountant who offers payroll assistance or check out a provider that operates online. SurePayroll ($50 monthly), for example, calculates the amount of tax owed, deducts tax from the nanny’s pay, arranges direct deposit of paychecks into her bank account, and remits federal, state and local taxes for you. The program also prepares Schedule H, which reports household employment taxes on your federal tax return.

Other providers of similar online services include Poppins Payroll ($49 monthly) and HomePay ($75 monthly). If you’re willing to file and send tax payments yourself but want help tracking them and figuring out how much you owe, try Simple Nanny Payroll ($29 yearly).

Don’t miss these tax breaks.

To ease the tax bite, I’m contributing to a dependent-care flexible spending account (FSA). If your employer offers one, you can stash away pretax money from your paycheck to cover care for children younger than 13 while you work or look for work. Qualifying expenses include a nanny, day care, preschool, after-school programs and summer day camps. (You can also use dependent-care FSA funds for expenses related to elder care or other care for dependent adults.) The IRS limits household contributions to dependent-care FSAs to $5,000 per year (or $2,500 yearly for those married filing separately).

The child and dependent care tax credit can help offset care expenses, too. You can claim the credit on up to $3,000 in care expenses for one child or up to $6,000 for two or more children. (Only expenses that are not reimbursed by a dependent-care FSA are eligible for the tax credit.) As with an FSA, the care must take place while you work or look for work, and the child must be younger than 13. The maximum credit that you can claim depends on your adjusted gross income. If your AGI is more than $43,000, you can claim up to 20% of care expenses. The percentage increases as AGI decreases, topping out at 35% for those with AGI of up to $15,000.

Note: This item first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, a monthly, trustworthy source of advice and guidance. Subscribe to help you make more money and keep more of the money you make here.

Related Content

Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.