How Much Social Security Tax Gets Taken Out of My Paycheck?

How much of your paycheck goes to Social Security tax? It depends how much you make.

Sep 5, 2015 at 8:03AM

Social Security

Photo: via Flickr

The Social Security tax rate in the United States is currently 12.4%. However, you only pay half of this amount, or 6.2%, out of your paycheck -- the other half is paid by your employer. And, Social Security taxes are only applied to the first $118,500 in wages for the 2015 tax year, which can make the effective Social Security tax rate less for higher-income individuals.

For a basic example, consider the case of a worker who earns a salary of $50,000 per year. Since this is below the wage limit, the 6.2% Social Security tax rate would apply to the entire income -- so this person would pay $3,100 in Social Security taxes throughout the course of the year. Assuming a bi-weekly pay schedule, this amount translates to about $119 per paycheck.

Or, consider a higher-income individual who's salary is $250,000. Because this is over the wage cap, only the first $118,500 of this person's earnings is subject to the 6.2% tax. So, $7,347 of this worker's income is paid as Social Security tax, making the effective Social Security tax rate just 2.9%.

Self-employed individuals
If you are self-employed, you are responsible for paying both the employer's and employee's portion of the Social Security tax (as well as both parts of the Medicare tax) -- also known as the "self-employment tax." The combined rate is 12.4% (15.3% including Medicare), and the same $118,500 wage cap applies for the Social Security tax. Medicare tax is paid on all wages.

There is some good news. The employer's portion of both taxes is deductible on your Federal income tax return, which can help to offset the sting of paying both parts of the Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Consider an example of a small business owner with $100,000 in calculated self-employment income this year. Since this is under the wage cap, the 12.4% Social Security tax rate is applied, and $12,400 in Social Security tax is due. Half of this amount, or $6,200, plus another $1,450 in Medicare taxes can be deducted when calculating the adjusted gross income.

A key fact to remember
Social Security is similar to many 401(k) plans in that your employer matches your contributions dollar-for-dollar. In other words, even though 6.2% of your paycheck gets taken, that's only half of the amount that is contributed to the Social Security program on your behalf. Even though Social Security tax seems like an inconvenience during your working life, you'll be glad it's there when you retire.

How one Seattle couple secured a $60K Social Security bonus -- and you can too
A Seattle couple recently discovered some little-known Social Security secrets that can boost many retirees' income by as much as $60,000. They were shocked by how easy it was to actually take advantage of these loopholes. And although it may seem too good to be true, it's 100% real. In fact, one MarketWatch reporter argues that if more Americans used them, the government would have to shell out an extra $10 billion... every year! So once you learn how to take advantage of these loopholes, you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after, even if you're woefully unprepared. Simply click here to receive your free copy of our new report that details how you can take advantage of these strategies.

This article is part of The Motley Fool's Knowledge Center, which was created based on the collected wisdom of a fantastic community of investors based in the Foolsaurus. Pop on over there to learn more about our Wiki and how you can be involved in helping the world invest, better! If you see any issues with this page, please email us at Thanks -- and Fool on!

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information