Payroll: 2012 Social Sec/Medicare Rates & Wage Bases

2011 Social Sec/Medicare Rates & Wage Bases

Social Security:
EmployEE: 4.2% on earnings up to $110,100* (see below)
EmployER: 6.2% on earnings up to $110,100

Employee/employer (each) 1.45% on all earnings

* Section 601 of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 reduced, for wages and salaries paid in calendar year 2011 and self-employment income in calendar year 2011, the OASDI payroll tax by 2 percentage points, applied to the portion of the tax paid by the worker and the self-employed individual. Section 101 of the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 extends this reduction of the tax rate through the end of February 2012. (The reduced tax rate for earnings in 2012 applies only to the first $18,350 of a worker’s total wages and self-employment income. The limit of $18,350 is two-twelfths of the $110,100 taxable earnings limit for 2012.) Unless additional legislation is approved, the tax rate will then revert to the unreduced rate.


What to do regarding wages paid in excess of $18,350 within the first two months of 2012? 
At this time, 4.2% Social Security Tax should be withheld on all wages for that period (01/01/12-02/29/12).

Under the terms negotiated by Congress, the law also includes a new “recapture” provision, which applies only to those employees who receive more than $18,350 in wages during the two-month period (the Social Security wage base for 2012 is $110,100, and $18,350 represents two months of the full-year amount). This provision imposes an additional income tax on these higher-income employees in an amount equal to 2 percent of the amount of wages they receive during the two-month period in excess of $18,350 (and not greater than $110,100).    

This additional recapture tax is an add-on to income tax liability that the employee would otherwise pay for 2012 and is not subject to reduction by credits or deductions. The recapture tax would be payable in 2013 when the employee files his or her income tax return for the 2012 tax year. With the possibility of a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut being discussed for 2012, the IRS will closely monitor the situation in case future legislation changes the recapture provision.

The IRS will issue additional guidance as needed to implement the provisions of this new two-month extension, including revised employment tax forms and instructions and information for employees who may be subject to the new “recapture” provision.