How to Pay Your Kids in Your Business - Mark J. Kohler (2023)

  • June 22, 2021

How to Pay Your Kids in Your Business - Mark J. Kohler (1)

This has to be one of the most under utilized tax strategies by small business owners with families today. Many don’t realize that paying their children under age 18 is an excellent strategy to minimize their tax liability, not to mention it creates a host of other ancillary benefits.

Paying your children for working in the business has to be one of the most underutilized tax strategies by small business owners with families today. If your children, young or old, work for you in your business (or should be), it’s important to pay them for their services in the business.

Many don’t realize that paying your children properly is an excellent strategy to minimize their tax liability. Not to mention, it also creates a host of other ancillary benefits. However, if it’s not processed properly on the ‘books’ and ‘tax return’, it can be an audit risk and frankly more of a pain than raising the kids (well not really).

The Non-Tax Reasons

  • The days of the farm are continuing to disappear all across America. More children are leaving the home without work ethic, money management skills, and a concept of entrepreneurship. By getting them involved in the business you might be able to better teach them about future financial success or even business ownership.
  • Getting help in the business and finding good workers can be difficult today. Many small business owners forget that some of their most affordable labor is right there in the house with them eating at the dinner table. Get them involved in the business and control their schedule a little more flexibly than other ‘outside’ employees!!
  • Another major benefit is the ability to fund your children’s retirement accounts at any age. Whether they are under age 10 and you want to start the Roth IRA that will grow exponentially into millions down the road, or helping a 30 something that needs to start a 401k and learn it’s ‘better late than never’ to begin saving.

Paying Kids Under Age 18

The beauty of the tax benefit paying kids under age 18 is two-fold. I can’t overemphasize the importance of understanding these features.

First, when you pay your children under 18, you don’t have to withhold any income taxes OR payroll taxes (that’s the ‘F’ word I’m talking about: FICA). (See IRC Code Sec. 3121(b)(3)(A), IRC Reg Section 31.3401(a)(4)-1(b), and IRS Pub No. 15, (2011), p.10) This also applies to Workers Compensation (unless you are in the State of Washington- make sure you look up the rules for even your own kids at the WA Dept of Labor here).

Yes, that’s right. There is no federal payroll tax withholding on your own kids, and this is the general rule and reasoning regarding Workers Comp in almost all the states. This is because the government and insurance carriers don’t assume your children will sue you if they are hurt on the job- at least we hope not. They are also probably on your health insurance plan and you’ll pay the bill one way or another.

Second, all of us in the U.S. and including our children, don’t pay taxes on the first $12,550 of income this year in 2021! (See TCJA and increase in the Standard Deduction. Rev Proc 2011-52, Sec. 3.11(1), 2011-45 IRB).

(Video) Paying Kids over 18 in Your Business

Also, the “Kiddie Tax” (if you have ever heard of that) doesn’t apply to ‘earned income’, AND you can still claim your children on your tax return as a dependent and even tax the child tax credit. But again, the child doesn’t pay taxes on their earned income on the first $12,550! I don’t want my clients paying the “Kiddie Tax” and it’s easy to avoid.

If you have grandchildren that you are supporting, or want to support, AND they could be of help in ANY of your business operations, there is a different strategy involving an extra step, but just as effective. See my article: “Paying Your Grandchildren for the Business”.

Make Sure They Earn It

Now the strategy: Where do the kids get earned income? You take a tax deduction in your business for paying your kids a legitimate wage for legitimate work and services they provide to the business…ANY business (operational or rental). Thus, you generate an excellent tax-deductible expense for your income taxes (inside your business) by pushing income to your children.

Of course, I’m not advocating paying your children as a ‘sham’. They have to be legitimately involved in the business and you want to keep records of their time worked, as well as pay them a reasonable wage. Hiring your children to simply do ‘family chores’ is not going to qualify as a valid deduction and will certainly set you up for an audit. (See U.S. v. Renfrow, 104 AFTR 2d 2009-5497, 1/26/2009).

Following the Proper Steps

Here is the procedure: The IRS allows any sole proprietorship or partnership (LLC) that is wholly owned by a child’s parents to pay wages to children under age 18 without having to withhold the payroll taxes and list it as “outside labor” as another expense. NOT Payroll. You do not have to issue a W-2. This is because there is no withholdings and the penalty for not filing a W-2 is based on the ‘withholdings’. But see…there aren’t any withholdings…thus no penalty…and thus the W-2 is perfunctory.

The IRS doesn’t care if there is a W-2 because there is no FICA, FUTA or SUTA due or withheld. The only time we recommend a W-2, is if you plan to have your child contribute to a Roth IRA (a great strategy btw!). In those instances, we want the IRS computer to match up to the kid’s contribution to the IRA with their earned income. Again, no penalty if you don’t, but it’s nice to keep the IRS computer system happy.

CAUTION- If you have an S or a C-Corporation you do not receive this benefit of avoiding FICA when paying your children under age 18…UNLESS you push the money through a sole prop ‘management company’. Don’t pay your children out of a corporation, or you have to withhold payroll taxes. (IRS Pub No. 15, (2011), p.10). Thus, we recommend you pay children out of a family-owned management company (sole prop). You do this by paying a legitimate management fee to the sole-prop from the S-Corporation, and then simply paying the children as “outside labor” (an ‘other expense’) out of the Sole-Proprietorship or Single Member LLC.

Paying Your Kids 18 or Older

This is a very important and powerful strategy if you are continuing to ‘support’ an adult child, AND getting their help in the operation of your business. If this is the case, then essentially you have two options

  • pay them as an employee with all the other ‘rank and file’ employees following W-2 procedures, or
  • pay them as a sub-contractor and issue a proper Form 1099-NEC.

It’s really important you follow federal and state rules between employees and contractors. Do not try to force the issue to give them a 1099. You can easily fall prey to an employment audit with your children if they act, look, and smell like an employee, but you ‘call’ them a sub-contractor. Be careful. (See my article “1099 Rules for Business Owners” for more information on when and how to issue the 1099-NEC.)

Remember, the goal is to pay them for legimitate services BECAUSE you are helping them with life expenses. Why? so they can pay taxes in their ‘lower bracket’ with money you were going to give them anyway!!

Over the years, I have seen three primary ways you can involve your adult children in your business. In fact, I have used ALL three of these strategies with one of my adult children at one point or another. Consider these working relationships:

  1. Have them serve as a marketing consulting and service provider off-site. This could simply be providing occasional marketing or management support, or day to day social media posts, or graphic design.
  2. Have them serve on the Board of Directors in your corporation or the Board of Advisors in your LLC. This is extremely common and great support to business owners. It also a tool to teach the children about the business. See my article “Setting up Your Board of Directors or Advisors”
  3. Have your children serve as property managers of your rental property in the area in which they live. This could even be rental property they are actually living in while going to college.

In Summary

Let’s summarize what all the benefits could be by hiring your children in the business:

  • You get a tax deduction for paying your kids money you were going to give them anyway
  • Your children still don’t pay income taxes on the first $12,550 of income this year in 2021
  • IF the children do pay taxes (young or old) they will typically do so at a lower rate than you
  • This could be for an operational or online business or even rental property
  • They don’t have to live near you to make it legitimate.
  • Children learn about entrepreneurship
  • And if you’re lucky, their help will actually make your business more successful and profitable.

I have seen these strategies not only save clients thousands of dollars in taxes but literally change the lives of their families. Children begin to learn work ethic and it can draw a family together in ways never fathomed by small business owners.

As you can see, this is a BIG topic, but I break this down in Chapter 12 of the 2nd edition of my book “The Tax and Legal Playbook – Game Changing Solutions for the Business Owner”. Don’t give up and keep learning!! There are a lot of variables to consider when designing your healthcare strategy. The savings around every corner. Talk to your CPA and get a plan for this year before it’s too late.

Interested in Learning More:

* To sign up for Mark’s weekly Free Newsletter and receive his Free E-Book “The Ultimate Tax Strategy Guide – 30 Steps to Saving the Most Money on Your Taxes”

Mark J. Kohler is a CPA, Attorney, co-host of the PodCasts“The Main Street Business Podcast”and“The Directed IRA Podcast”, and the author of“The Business Owner’s Guide to Financial Freedom- What Wall Street Isn’t Telling You”and,“The Tax and Legal Playbook- Game Changing Solutions For Your Small Business Questions”, as well as several other well-known books. He is also the CFO ofDirected IRA Trust Company, and a senior partner at the law firmKKOS Lawyers.

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Can I put my kids on my business payroll? ›

Here is the procedure: The IRS allows any sole proprietorship or partnership (LLC) that is wholly owned by a child's parents to pay wages to children under age 18 without having to withhold the payroll taxes and list it as “outside labor” as another expense.

How much can I pay my child to work for my business 2022? ›

So far you've learned how to pay your children up to $12,950 to work in your business tax-free (updated for 2022)… … and even a legal workaround to avoid payroll taxes for your kids if your main business is a corporation.

How do I put my child in my business? ›

Hiring your child: 10 Tips to do it the right way
  1. Hire your child to do real work. You must make sure your child is a real employee. ...
  2. Comply with employment laws. ...
  3. Follow child labor laws. ...
  4. Give your child real wages. ...
  5. Pay your children reasonable wages. ...
  6. Separate family and work jobs. ...
  7. Withhold and remit taxes. ...
  8. Keep payroll records.
Aug 25, 2022

How do I pay my child S Corp? ›

Instead of paying your children directly from your S Corp, you pay them out of a family management company. You can create this simple family management company as a Sole Proprietorship separate from your S Corp, and owned by yourself or your spouse.

How much can I pay my child tax free 2022? ›

Low Taxes on Child Earnings

For 2022, it is $12,950 for single taxpayers. Thus, your child can earn up to $12,950 (that's $1,079 per month) and owe no tax on the income.

Can I pay my child as a 1099? ›

If your child is over age 18 and you've decided to treat them like an independent contractor for tax purposes, you'll need to give them a 1099-NEC (if you've paid them $600 or more).

Can I put my 7 year old on payroll? ›

Know the Requirements

There's no age limit for employing your child, but it may be difficult to justify wages paid to a five-year-old. Treat your children the same as you would any other employee, and be sure you keep good records.

What is the kiddie tax rule? ›

The tax applies to dependent children under the age of 18 at the end of the tax year (or full-time students younger than 24) and works like this: The first $1,150 of unearned income is covered by the kiddie tax's standard deduction, so it isn't taxed. The next $1,150 is taxed at the child's marginal tax rate.

How much can I pay my child in 2022? ›

For 2022, a child typically can have up to $12,950 of earned income without paying income tax.

How much can I gift my child tax free? ›

The annual exclusion applies to gifts to each donee. In other words, if you give each of your children $17,000 in 2023, the annual exclusion applies to each gift. The table below shows the annual exclusion amount applicable in the year of the gift.

How do I put my child up financially? ›

Or put items on her birthday or Christmas list.
  1. Create a chore board. ...
  2. Teach them about business. ...
  3. Start saving when they're babies. ...
  4. Together, designate a place for saving money and a place for spending money. ...
  5. Start a college fund for them. ...
  6. Start a retirement account for them. ...
  7. Encourage them to spend wisely.

Should a business owner be on payroll? ›

Sole Proprietorship or Partnership: In most cases, you're not allowed to be on payroll. You can still pay yourself from the company's income, but that pay is not tax-deductible. Partnership agreements allow for pay to be given in various ways, but it's usually best to take distributions and make estimated tax payments.

How do I pay myself from my LLC S corp? ›

4 Ways To Pay Yourself From an LLC
  1. Pay Yourself as a W-2 Employee. For many LLC owners, the most advantageous way to receive payment is to treat yourself as an employee. ...
  2. Earn Profit Distributions. ...
  3. Pay Yourself as a 1099 Independent Contractor. ...
  4. Keep the Money in the Business.
Sep 30, 2022

Can you leave money in an S corp and not pay taxes? ›

At the end of each year, all S corporation profits are allocated to the corporation's shareholders. Even if you and your fellow shareholders choose to leave some or all of the profits in the corporation, taking nothing as distributions or salaries, you will still be required to pay tax on those profits.

How much can I pay myself from my S corp? ›

An S Corp owner has to receive what the IRS deems a “reasonable salary” — basically, a paycheck comparable to what other employers would pay for similar services. If there's additional profit in the business, you can take those as distributions, which come with a lower tax bill.

Can you pay your kid 12k a year? ›

How much can I pay my child to work for my business 2022 IRS? As long as they're doing legitimate work for your business, you can hire your child tax free and pay each of them up to $12,000 per year tax-free. It's true. And all of this while they earn a little money AND start saving for college or that first business.

How do I prove my child's earned income? ›

Ideally your child should have a W2 or a Form 1099 to show evidence of the earned income. However, there are some instances where this may not be possible so it's important to keep records of the type of work, when the work was done, who the work was done for and how much your child was paid.

Can a sole proprietor hire their child? ›

The Internal Revenue Service allows sole proprietors to hire their children and treat wages paid to them as a business expense.

How much can I pay my kids without a 1099? ›

The standard deduction for 2022 is $12,950 for single taxpayers. This means that you can pay your child up to $1,079 per month or $12,950 annually without the need to pay any tax.

What happens if my child gets a 1099? ›

You do not enter the child's income on your return. You can still claim him as a dependent. He has to file his own return for the 1099Misc.

What age can a child be self employed? ›

Can you start your own business if you're under 18? The short answer: yes, you can. You will have extra challenges ahead of you, because until you're 18 you'll have barriers to setting up your own business bank account, getting credit and raising business finance.

What is a good weekly allowance for a 7 year old? ›

A rule of thumb to follow is to give your kid $1 per week for each year of their age. If you have a 7-year-old, their allowance would total $7 per week. A 16-year-old would receive more, at $16 per week.

Do minors get payroll taxes? ›

A minor who earns less than $12,950 will not owe taxes but may choose to file a return to receive a refund of withheld earnings. A child who earns $1,150 or more (tax year 2022) in "unearned income,” such as dividends or interest, needs to file a tax return.

How can we avoid the kiddie tax? ›

A child can avoid the kiddie tax rules when the age, income, or support test (if applicable) is not met during the tax year. Reducing or eliminating a child's investment income by shifting to tax-free investments can minimize the impact of the kiddie tax or allow a child to avoid the kiddie tax rules.

At what age do you no longer have to pay capital gains tax? ›

The over-55 home sale exemption was a tax law that provided homeowners over age 55 with a one-time capital gains exclusion. Individuals who met the requirements could exclude up to $125,000 of capital gains on the sale of their personal residences. The over-55 home sale exemption has not been in effect since 1997.

Do I need to file kiddie tax? ›

For tax purposes, the child's "age" is the age on December 31. The child is required to file the form if any of these conditions apply: The child is under 18 at the end of the year. The child is 18 years old and does not have earned income that is more than half of the child's support for the year, or.

Can I still claim my child as a dependent if they work? ›

Can I claim them as dependents? You can usually claim your children as dependents even if they are dependents with income and no matter how much dependent income they may have or where it comes from.

How much are dependents worth on taxes 2022? ›

For 2022, the standard deduction amount for an individual who may be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer cannot exceed the greater of (1) $1,150 or (2) the sum of $400 and the individual's earned income (not to exceed the regular standard deduction amount).

Do you get money for having a kid in 2022? ›

The Child Tax Credit for tax year 2022 is $2,000 per child for qualifying children through age 16. A portion of this credit is refundable as the Addition Child Tax Credit meaning that eligible families can get it in the form of a refund, even if they owe no federal income tax.

Can I give my son $100000 tax Free? ›

The annual exclusion is the maximum value of gifts you can give to each person. For example, during the 2022 tax year, the law allows you to make an unlimited number of tax-free gifts as long as no one receives more than $16,000.

Can I give my son 100k tax free? ›

The Annual Gift Limits

In 2021, the annual gifting limit is $15,000 but that amount can change from year to year. Many people assume that as long as their gifts are below that dollar threshold that no gift tax has to be paid but if they gift over that annual limit then someone has to pay gift tax.

How does the IRS know if I give a gift? ›

Filing Form 709: First, the IRS primarily finds out about gifts if you report them using Form 709. As a requirement, gifts exceeding $15,000 must be reported on this form.

Where should I put my child's money? ›

Investing for Kids: 5 Account Options
  1. Custodial Roth IRA. If your child has earned income from a part-time job, they may qualify for a custodial Roth IRA. ...
  2. 529 Education Savings Plans. ...
  3. Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. ...
  4. UGMA/UTMA Trust Accounts. ...
  5. Brokerage Account.
Dec 1, 2022

What is the best savings for a child? ›

Financial experts seem to universally agree that a 529 plan is the best way to save money for child college costs. The accounts come with tax benefits, and many plans feature low fees. There are two types of 529 plans.

Can I transfer money from my LLC to my personal account? ›

That's called an owner's draw. You can simply write yourself a check or transfer the money for your business profits from your LLC's business bank account to your personal bank account. Easy as that!

How much should I put away for taxes as a business owner? ›

To cover your federal taxes, saving 30% of your business income is a solid rule of thumb. According to John Hewitt, founder of Liberty Tax Service, the total amount you should set aside to cover both federal and state taxes should be 30-40% of what you earn.

What percentage should I pay myself from my business? ›

An alternative method is to pay yourself based on your profits. The SBA reports that most small business owners limit their salaries to 50% of profits, Singer said.

What is the best way to pay yourself as an S corp owner? ›

  1. Option 1: Pay yourself an employee salary. If you perform employee-like functions at your company, you must draw a W-2 salary that allows you to properly report and pay employment taxes. ...
  2. Option 2: Pay yourself shareholder distributions. ...
  3. Option 3: Pay yourself salary and distributions.
Jun 22, 2022

Can I do my own payroll for my small business? ›

Yes, you can run your own small business payroll, but it is not always the best idea. Running payroll without services can save you a few hundred dollars today, but it could cost you in the long run. In order to save money, many small business owners do payroll manually rather than using payroll software or services.

Can an owner take money from an S corp? ›

Instead, S corp owners can draw money from the business by using shareholder distributions. A shareholder distribution is a payment from the S corp's earnings taxed at the shareholder level. In other words, shareholder distributions are not recorded as personal income or subject to Social Security or Medicare taxes.

Can I take cash out of my S corp? ›

If you want to take money out of your S Corp, you have three options: Take a distribution. Pay yourself a salary. Give yourself a loan.

What is the S corp loophole? ›

One of the tax loopholes with S corporation status is that the business owner can avoid self-employment taxes apart from Social Security and Medicare.

What is the most tax efficient way to pay yourself? ›

The most tax-efficient way to pay yourself as a business owner is a combination of a salary and dividends. This will allow you to deduct the salary from your business's income and pay taxes on it. If you are not paying yourself a salary, you will have to pay taxes on the profit of your business.

How much money does an S Corp have to make to file taxes? ›

S corporations are subject to the annual $800 minimum franchise tax.

What is the limit for the children to be employed in work? ›

7: Any other law apart from Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act which prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years? ➢ Mines Act, 1952: The Minimum age of a person to be employed in mine is eighteen years as specified under sub-section (1) of Section 40 of the Mines Act, 1952.

Is there a small business tax credit for 2022? ›

Pass-through business owners (S corporations, LLCs, sole proprietorships, or partnerships) – regardless of the type of business they own – can claim up to a 20% tax deduction on their share of the business's income up to $182,100 in tax year 2022, or $364,200 for those filing jointly.

How much is the CTC per child? ›

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) can give you back money at tax time to help with those costs. Eligible parents and caregivers can claim a credit up to $2,000 for each child under 17 on their tax return.

What age can a child legally work full time? ›

How old do you have to be to work? You can work and earn money from the age of 13, but there are very strict rules about when young people aged under 16 can work. If you are aged 13-16, you are not allowed to work during school hours.

What age does working family payment stop? ›

you have at least one child who normally lives with you. Your child must be under 18 years of age or between 18 and 22 years of age and in full-time education. For additional information on Dependant Children, please click here. you earn less than an amount set according to your family size.

What can I write off as a business expense? ›

What Can Be Written off as Business Expenses?
  1. Car expenses and mileage.
  2. Office expenses, including rent, utilities, etc.
  3. Office supplies, including computers, software, etc.
  4. Health insurance premiums.
  5. Business phone bills.
  6. Continuing education courses.
  7. Parking for business-related trips.

What can you write off with an LLC? ›

20 Tax Write-Offs for Your LLC
  • Car Expenses and Mileage. If you use your car for business purposes, you can write it off on your taxes. ...
  • Meal Expenses. ...
  • Home Office Expenses. ...
  • Travel Expenses. ...
  • Office Supplies. ...
  • Phone and Internet Service. ...
  • Medical Expenses. ...
  • Childcare.
Dec 8, 2022

What percentage does a small business pay in taxes? ›

What percentage does a small business pay in taxes? It depends on how much the business makes and whether it's a corporation or pass-through entity. Corporations pay a flat tax of 21% on business profits, while pass-through businesses pay taxes at the owner's income-based marginal tax rate, ranging from 10% to 37%.

How much is CTC monthly? ›

These people qualify for at least $2,000 of Child Tax Credit, which comes out to $166 per child each month: Married couples with income under $400,000.

How much will monthly CTC payments be? ›

The existing credit of $2,000 per child under age 17 was increased to $3,600 per child under 6 and $3,000 per child ages 6 through 17. Half of the enhanced sum was made available through monthly payments starting last July — up to $300 per child under 6 and up to $250 per child under 18.

Which parent gets the CTC? ›

Usually, the custodial parent gets to claim any qualifying children as dependents. However, the IRS doesn't use the same definition of custodial parent that family court does.


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