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FICA Information

Social Security payroll taxes are collected under authority of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). The payroll taxes are sometimes even called "FICA taxes." In the original 1935 law, the benefit provisions were in Title II of the Act and the taxing provisions were in a separate title known as Title VIII. 

As part of the 1939 amendments, the Title VIII taxing provisions were taken out of the Social Security Act and placed in the Internal Revenue Code. Since it wouldn't make any sense to call this new section of the Internal Revenue Code "Title VIII," it was renamed the "Federal Insurance Contributions Act." 

So FICA is nothing more than the tax provisions of the Social Security Act, as they appear in the Internal Revenue Code.

My check stub says OASDI. What is that?

Old Age Survivors Disability Insurance.  This is the 6.2% portion of FICA.

Am I required to participate in the Social Security program?

Participation in the Social Security program is mandatory with respect to the payment of Social Security taxes. Unless specifically exempt by law, everyone working in the United State is required to pay Social Security taxes on earnings from employment. These earnings are subject to Social Security tax without regard to the citizenship or place of residence of either the employer or the employee.

The authority for the collection of taxes, including Social Security taxes, is found in the Internal Revenue Code, not the Social Security Act.

What is the Social Security tax (aka FICA) rate?

The FICA tax rate is 7.65% for employees and the employer match. Self-employed individuals pay the full 15.30%. The rates are broken down as follows:

  • 6.2% (Social Security portion) on earnings up to the maximum taxable amount ($102,000 in 2008)
  • 1.45% (Medicare portion) on all earnings.

Set by law, these rates haven't changed since 1990.

Maximum Earnings Taxable

Program 2005 2006 2007 2008
Social Security $90,000 $94,200 $97,500 $102,000
Medicare * * *  *

*No limit for any year after 1993

Are wages earned by a foreign student taxable for Social Security purposes?

If a student has an F-1, J-1, or M-1 Visa and is not working on campus or by special arrangement with the school, the wages are generally taxable for Social Security purposes. You may want to access the Internal Revenue Services' (IRS) publications 515 and 519 for details about employment taxes payable on the earnings of aliens. These publications are available online.

IRS is the authority on all tax matters including the collection and refund of Social Security taxes.  All matters pertaining to proper filing are under the jurisdiction of the IRS.  You can direct your questions to the IRS by:

  • Calling their toll-free telephone number, 1-800-829-1040; or
  • Calling or visiting any local IRS office; or
  • Writing to the national address of the IRS which is:

Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20024