Who Is a Household Employer?

Household Employer vs. “Regular” Employer

The federal government and most states differentiate between a household employer and a non-household employer. The advantages of being classified a household employer are:

  1. Federal filing requirements are simpler.  Payroll taxes are filed and paid only once a year together with the your personal tax return (Schedule H).
  2. You are not required to withhold federal or state income taxes.

A household employer is someone who employs persons to work in or around their primary residence. This is in contrast to non-household, “regular” employers who typically hire employees who work outside their residence to help achieve a business’s objectives.

Who are household employees vs. non-household employees?

Workers who are household employees:

Household employees are hired to do household work and you can control not only what work is done, but how it is done. It does not matter whether the work being done is full-time or part-time or that you hired the worker through an agency or from a list provided by an agency or association. It also does not matter whether you pay the worker on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis, or by the job.

Examples are:

  • Babysitters, nannies, caretakers
  • Drivers, chauffeurs
  • Cooks
  • Health aides, private nurses
  • Cleaning people, housekeepers
  • Yard workers, gardeners
  • Crews of private aircraft or yachts

Workers who are non-household employees:

  • Workers you get from an agency if the agency is responsible for who does the work and how it is done.
  • Self-employed workers. A worker is self-employed if only he or she can control how the work is done. A self-employed worker usually provides his or her own tools and offers services to the general public in an independent business.

 Wage Thresholds

There are certain federal and state wage limits that have to be exceeded before any taxes have to be paid. It means that even if you meet the initial definition of a household employer the total annual wages you pay your employee might low enough for you to having to file payroll taxes.  For more information see Payroll Taxes.