In addition to federal income taxes, your employer withholds Social Security and Medicare taxes. Your employer matches the Social Security and Medicare and forwards these taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. When you reach $106,800 in income in a calendar year, you do not have to pay Social Security taxes on additional income. Medicare taxation continues to the end of the year on all of your earned income. You continue to pay Medicare taxes on earned income your entire lifetime.
Medicare Taxation Continues
Social Security and Medicare taxes are the same as Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes. Your employer may show the taxes on your W-2 form as FICA and separate Social Security from Medicare. In 2011, Social Security taxes are 4.2 percent of the employee's gross income. Medicare taxes are 1.45 percent. The employee gets a 2 percent break for the 2011 tax year. The employer pays 6.2 percent in 2011 and 1.45 percent for Medicare matching.
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Medicare Taxes Apply to Earned Income
The total Medicare tax is 2.9 percent of gross earned income. If you are self-employed or an independent contractor, you pay both the employer and the employee portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes, for a total of 13.3 percent in 2011. You pay these on IRS Schedule SE. As an employee, your employer withholds 1.45 percent from your earned income, regardless of the amount of money you make each year. Unlike Social Security taxes that stop at $106,800 in earnings each year, Medicare taxation covers all of your earned income. Medicare withholding stops only when you no longer have earned income.
Medicare at Age 65
Claim your Medicare benefits three months before age 65 by contacting Social Security. You have paid into the trust fund to assist with Part A or hospital care Medicare starting at age 65. You may continue to work; you do not have to retire to get the benefits of Medicare. If you have medical insurance through your employment, you will need to decide if you want Part B, which costs a monthly fee of about $115 a month in 2011. Your medical insurance at your employment will make a difference in Part C, the Medicare Advantage coverage and Part D or prescription coverage. Ask questions and read the Medicare information to decide what is best for you.
Medicare Withholding after 65
You may think that once you start using Medicare and collecting Social Security benefits, taxation for these items will cease. That is not true. As long as you have earned income, even after retirement, you continue to contribute to Social Security and Medicare with FICA taxes at the same rate as before you retired. If you have no earned income, you do not pay Social Security or Medicare taxes. There is no Social Security or Medicare tax charged on Social Security benefits, because these benefits are unearned income.
- IRS.gov: Publication 15: (Circular E) Employer's Tax Guide for 2011
- IRS.gov: Tax Topics: Social Security and Medicare Withholding Rates: December 2010
- Social Security Online: Frequently Asked Retirement Questions: December 2010
- Social Security Online: Near Retirement?: January 2011
- Medicare.gov: Medicare Premiums and Coinsurance Rates for 2011: November 2010