(a) In general. (1) The term “wages” means all remuneration for services performed by an employee for his employer unless specifically excepted under section 3401(a) or excepted under section 3402(e).
(2) The name by which the remuneration for services is designated is immaterial. Thus, salaries, fees, bonuses, commissions on sales or on insurance premiums, pensions, and retired pay are wages within the meaning of the statute if paid as compensation for services performed by the employee for his employer.
(3) The basis upon which the remuneration is paid is immaterial in determining whether the remuneration constitutes wages. Thus, it may be paid on the basis of piecework, or a percentage of profits; and may be paid hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.
(4) Generally the medium in which remuneration is paid is also immaterial. It may be paid in cash or in something other than cash, as for example, stocks, bonds, or other forms of property. (See, however, § 31.3401(a)(11)-1, relating to the exclusion from wages of remuneration paid in any medium other than cash for services not in the course of the employer's trade or business, and § 31.3401(a)(16)-1, relating to the exclusion from wages of tips paid in any medium other than cash.) If services are paid for in a medium other than cash, the fair market value of the thing taken in payment is the amount to be included as wages. If the services were rendered at a stipulated price, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, such price will be presumed to be the fair value of the remuneration received. If a corporation transfers to its employees its own stock as remuneration for services rendered by the employee, the amount of such remuneration is the fair market value of the stock at the time of the transfer.
(5) Remuneration for services, unless such remuneration is specifically excepted by the statute, constitutes wages even though at the time paid the relationship of employer and employee no longer exists between the person in whose employ the services were performed and the individual who performed them.
A is employed by R during the month of January 1955 and is entitled to receive remuneration of $100 for the services performed for R, the employer, during the month. A leaves the employ of R at the close of business on January 31, 1955. On February 15, 1955 (when A is no longer an employee of R), R pays A the remuneration of $100 which was earned for the services performed in January. The $100 is wages within the meaning of the statute.
(b) Certain specific items - (1) Pensions and retirement pay. (i) In general, pensions and retired pay are wages subject to withholding. However, no withholding is required with respect to amounts paid to an employee upon retirement which are taxable as annuities under the provisions of section 72 or 403. So-called pensions awarded by one to whom no services have been rendered are mere gifts or gratuities and do not constitute wages. Those payments of pensions or other benefits by the Federal Government under title 38 of the United States Code which are excluded from gross income are not wages subject to withholding.
(ii) Amounts received as retirement pay for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, or the Public Health Service or as a disability annuity paid under the provisions of section 831 of the Foreign Service Act of 1946, as amended (22) U.S.C. 1081; 60 Stat. 1021), are subject to withholding unless such pay or disability annuity is excluded from gross income under section 104(a)(4), or is taxable as an annuity under the provisions of section 72. Where such retirement pay or disability annuity (not excluded from gross income under section 104(a)(4) and not taxable as an annuity under the provisions of section 72) is paid to a nonresident alien individual, withholding is required only in the case of such amounts paid to a nonresident alien individual who is a resident of Puerto Rico.
(2) Traveling and other expenses. Amounts paid specifically - either as advances or reimbursements - for traveling or other bona fide ordinary and necessary expenses incurred or reasonably expected to be incurred in the business of the employer are not wages and are not subject to withholding. Traveling and other reimbursed expenses must be identified either by making a separate payment or by specifically indicating the separate amounts where both wages and expense allowances are combined in a single payment. For amounts that are received by an employee on or after July 1, 1990, with respect to expenses paid or incurred on or after July 1, 1990, see § 31.3401 (a)-4.
(3) Vacation allowances. Amounts of so-called “vacation allowances” paid to an employee constitute wages. Thus, the salary of an employee on vacation, paid notwithstanding his absence from work, constitutes wages.
(4) Dismissal payments. Any payments made by an employer to an employee on account of dismissal, that is, involuntary separation from the service of the employer, constitute wages regardless of whether the employer is legally bound by contract, statute, or otherwise to make such payments.
(5) Deductions by employer from remuneration of an employee. Any amount deducted by an employer from the remuneration of an employee is considered to be a part of the employee's remuneration and is considered to be paid to the employee as remuneration at the time that the deduction is made. It is immaterial that any act of Congress, or the law of any State or of Puerto Rico, requires or permits such deductions and the payment of the amounts thereof to the United States, a State, a Territory, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia, or any political subdivision of any one or more of the foregoing.
(6) Payment by an employer of employee's tax, or employee's contributions under a State law. The term “wages” includes the amount paid by an employer on behalf of an employee (without deduction from the remuneration of, or other reimbursement from, the employee) on account of any payment required from an employee under a State unemployment compensation law, or on account of any tax imposed upon the employee by any taxing authority, including the taxes imposed by sections 3101 and 3201.
(7) Remuneration for services as employee of nonresident alien individual or foreign entity. The term “wages” includes remuneration for services performed by a citizen or resident (including, in regard to wages paid after February 28, 1979, an individual treated as a resident under section 6013 (g) or (h)) of the United States as an employee of a nonresident alien individual, foreign partnership, or foreign corporation whether or not such alien individual or foreign entity is engaged in trade or business within the United States. Any person paying wages on behalf of a nonresident alien individual, foreign partnership, or foreign corporation, not engaged in trade or business within the United States (including Puerto Rico as if a part of the United States), is subject to all the provisions of law and regulations applicable with respect to an employer. See § 31.3401(d)-1, relating to the term “employer”, and § 31.3401(a)(8)(C)-1, relating to remuneration paid for services performed by a citizen of the United States in Puerto Rico.
(8) Amounts paid under accident or health plans - (i) Amounts paid in taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 1977 - (a) In general. Withholding is required on all payments of amounts includible in gross income under section 105(a) and § 1.105-1 (relating to amounts attributable to employer contributions), made in taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 1977, to an employee under an accident or health plan for a period of absence from work on account of personal injuries or sickness. Payments on which withholding is required by this subdivision are wages as defined in section 3401(a), and the employer shall deduct and withhold in accordance with the requirements of chapter 24 of subtitle C of the Code. Third party payments of sick pay, as defined in section 3402(o) and the regulations thereunder, are not wages for purposes of this section.
(b) Payments made by an agent of the employer. (1) Payments are considered made by the employer if a third party makes the payments as an agent of the employer. The determining factor as to whether a third party is an agent of the employer is whether the third party bears any insurance risk. If the third party bears no insurance risk and is reimbursed on a cost plus fee basis, the third party is an agent of the employer even if the third party is responsible for making determinations of the eligibility of individual employees of the employer for sick pay payments. If the third party is paid an insurance premium and not reimbursed on a cost plus fee basis, the third party is not an agent of the employer, but the third party is a payor of third party sick pay for purposes of voluntary withholding from sick pay under sections 3402(o) and 6051(f) and the regulations thereunder. If a third party and an employer enter into an agency agreement as provided in paragraph (c) of § 31.6051-3 (relating to statements required in case of sick pay paid by third parties), that agency agreement does not make the third party an agent of the employer for purposes of this paragraph.
(2) Payments made by agents subject to this paragraph are supplemental wages as defined in § 31.3402(g)-1, and are therefore subject to the rules regarding withholding tax on supplemental wages provided in § 31.3402(g)-1. For purposes of those rules, unless the agent is also an agent for purposes of withholding tax from the employee's regular wages, the agent may deem tax to have been withheld from regular wages paid to the employee during the calendar year.
(3) This paragraph is only applicable to amounts paid on or after May 25, 1983 unless the agent actually withheld taxes before that date.
(c) Exceptions to withholding. (1) Withholding is not required on payments that are specifically excepted under the numbered paragraphs of section 3401(a) (relating to the definition of wages), under section 3402(e) (relating to included and excluded wages), or under section 3402(n) (relating to employees incurring no income tax liability).
(2) Withholding is not required on disability payments to the extent that the payments are excludable from gross income under section 105(d). In determining the excludable portion of the disability payments, the employer may assume that payments that the employer makes to the employee are the employee's sole source of income. This exception applies only if the employee furnishes the employer with adequate verification of disability. A certificate from a qualified physician attesting that the employee is permanently and totally disabled (within the meaning of section 105(d)) shall be deemed to constitute adequate verification. This exception does not affect the requirement that a statement (which includes any amount paid under section 105(d)) be furnished under either section 6041 (relating to information at source) or section 6051 (relating to receipts for employees) and the regulations thereunder.
(ii) Amounts paid after December 31, 1955 and before January 1, 1977 - (a) In general. The term “wage continuation payment”, as used in this subdivision, means any payment to an employee which is made after December 31, 1955, and before January 1, 1977 under a wage continuation plan (as defined in paragraph (a)(2)(i) of § 1.105-4 and § 1.105-5 of Part 1 of this chapter (Income Tax Regulations)) for a period of absence from work on account of personal injuries or sickness, to the extent such payment is attributable to contributions made by the employer which were not includable in the employee's gross income or is paid by the employer. Any such payment, whether or not excluded from the gross income of the employee under section 105(d), constitutes “wages” (unless specifically excepted under any of the numbered paragraphs of section 3401(a) or under section 3402(e) and withholding thereon is required except as provided in paragraphs (b)(8)(ii) (b), (c), and (d) of this section.
(b) Amounts paid before January 1, 1977, by employer for whom services are performed for period of absence beginning after December 31, 1963. (1) Withholding is not required upon the amount of any wage continuation payment for a period of absence beginning after December 31, 1963, paid before January 1, 1977, to an employee directly by the employer for whom he performs services to the extent that such payment is excludable from the gross income of the employee under the provisions of section 105(d) in effect with respect to such payments, provided the records maintained by the employer -
(i) Separately show the amount of each such payment and the excludable portion thereof, and
(ii) Contain data substantiating the employee's entitlement to the exclusion provided in section 105(d) with respect to such amount, either by a written statement from the employee specifying whether his absence from work during the period for which the payment was made was due to a personal injury or to sickness and whether he was hospitalized for at least one day during this period; or by any other information which the employer reasonably believes establishes the employee's entitlement to the exclusion under section 105(d). Employers shall not be required to ascertain the accuracy of any written statement submitted by an employee in accordance with this subdivision (b)(1)(ii).
(2) The computation of the amount of any wage continuation payment with repect to which the employer may refrain from withholding may be illustrated by the following examples:
A, an employee of B, normally works Monday through Friday and has a regular weekly rate of wages of $100. On Monday, November 5, 1974, A becomes ill, and as a result is absent from work for two weeks, returing to work on Monday, November 19, 1974. A is not hospitalized. Under B's noncontributory wage continuation plan, A receives no benefits for the first three working days of absence and is paid benefits directly by B at the rate of $85 a week thereafter ($34 for the last two days of the first week of absence and $85 for the second week of absence). No wage continuation payment is made by any other person. Since the benefits are entirely attributable to contributions to the plan by B, such benefits are wage continuation payments in their entirety. The wage continuation payments for the first seven calendar days of absence are not excludable from A's gross income because A was not hospitalized for at least one day during his period of absence, and therefore B must withhold with respect to such payments. Under section 105(a), the wage continuation payments attributable to absence after the first seven calendar days of absence are excludable to the extent that they do not exceed a rate of $75 a week. Under the principles stated in paragraph (e)(6)(iv) of § 1.105-4 of this chapter (Income Tax Regulations), the wage continuation payments in this case are at a rate not in excess of 75 percent (
Assume the facts in example 1 except that A is unable to return to work until Monday, February 11, 1975, and that, of the $85 a week of wage continuation payments $35 is paid directly by B and $50 is reasonably expected by B to be paid by C, an insurance company, on behalf of B. In such a case, both the $50 and the $35 payments constitute wage continuation payments and the amount of such payments which is attributable to the first 30 calendar days of absence is at a rate not in excess of 75 percent (
(c) Amounts paid by employer for whom services are performed for period of absence beginning before January 1, 1964. Withholding is not required upon the amount of any wage continuation payment for a period of absence beginning before January 1, 1964, made to an employee directly by the employer for whom he performs services to the extent that such payment is excludable from the gross income of the employee under the provisions of section 105(d) in effect with respect to such payments, provided the records maintained by the employer -
(1) Separately show the amount of each such payment and the excludable portion thereof, and
(2) Contain data substantiating the employee's entitlement to the exclusion provided in section 105(d) with respect to such amount, either by a written statement from the employee specifying whether his absence from work during the period for which the payment was made was due to a personal injury or whether such absence was due to sickness, and, if the latter, whether he was hospitalized for at least one day during this period; or by any other information which the employer reasonably believes establishes the employee's entitlement to the exclusion under section 105(d). Employers shall not be required to ascertain the accuracy of the information contained in any written statement submitted by an employee in accordance with this paragraph (b)(8)(ii)(c)(2). For purposes of this paragraph (b)(8)(ii)(c), the computation of the amount excludable form the gross income of the employee under section 105(d) may be made either on the basis of the wage continuation payments which are made directly by the employer for whom the employee performs services, or on the basis of such payments in conjunction with any wage continuation payments made on behalf of the employer by a person who is regarded as an employer under section 3401(d)(1).
(d) Amounts paid before January 1, 1977 by person other than the employer for whom services are performed. No tax shall be withheld upon any wage continuation payment made to an employee by or on behalf of a person who is not the employer for whom the employee performs services but who is regarded as an employer under section 3401(d)(1). For example, no tax shall be withheld with respect to wage continuation payments made on behalf of an employer by an insurance company under an accident or health policy, by a separate trust under an accident or health plan, or by a State agency from a sickness and disability fund maintained under State law.
(e) Cross references. See sections 6001 and 6051 and the regulations thereunder for rules with respect to the records which must be maintained in connection with wage continuation payments and for rules with respect to the statements which must be furnished an employee in connection with wage continuation payments, respectively. See also section 105 and § 1.105-4 of this chapter (Income Tax Regulations).
(9) Value of meals and lodging. The value of any meals or lodging furnished to an employee by his employer is not subject to withholding if the value of the meals or lodging is excludable from the gross income of the employee. See § 1.119-1 of this chapter (Income Tax Regulations).
(10) Facilities or privileges. Ordinarily, facilities or privileges (such as entertainment, medical services, or so-called “courtesy” discounts on purchases), furnished or offered by an employer to his employees generally, are not considered as wages subject to withholding if such facilities or privileges are of relatively small value and are offered or furnished by the employer merely as a means of promoting the health, good will, contentment, or efficiency of his employees.
(11) Tips or gratuities. Tips or gratuities paid, prior to January 1, 1966, directly to an employee by a customer of an employer, and not accounted for by the employee to the employer are not subject to withholding. For provisions relating to the treatment of tips received by an employee after December 31, 1965, as wages, see §§ 31.3401(f)-1 and 31.3402(k)-1.
(12) Remuneration for services performed by permanent resident of Virgin Islands - (i) Exemption from withholding. No tax shall be withheld for the United States under chapter 24 from a payment of wages by an employer, including the United States or any agency thereof, to an employee if at the time of payment it is reasonable to believe that the employee will be required to satisfy his income tax obligations with respect to such wages under section 28(a) of the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands (68 Stat. 508). That section provides that all persons whose permanent residence is in the Virgin Islands “shall satisfy their income tax obligations under applicable taxing statutes of the United States by paying their tax on income derived from all sources both within and outside the Virgin Islands into the treasury of the Virgin Islands”.
(ii) Claiming exemption. If the employee furnishes to the employer a statement in duplicate that he expects to satisfy his income tax obligations under section 28(a) of the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands with respect to all wages subsequently to be paid to him by the employer during the taxable year to which the statement relates, the employer may, in the absence of information to the contrary, rely on such statement as establishing reasonable belief that the employee will so satisfy his income tax obligations. The employee's statement shall identify the taxable year to which it relates, and both the original and the duplicate copy thereof shall be signed and dated by the employee.
(iii) Disposition of statement. The original of the statement shall be retained by the employer. The duplicate copy of the statement shall be sent by the employer to the Director of International Operations, Washington, D.C. 20225, on or before the last day of the calendar year in which the employer receives the statement from the employee.
(iv) Applicability of subparagraph. This subparagraph has no application with respect to any payment of remuneration which is not subject to withholding by reason of any other provision of the regulations in this subpart.
(13) Federal employees resident in Puerto Rico. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of § 31.3401(a)(6)-1, the term “wages” includes remuneration for services performed by a nonresident alien individual who is a resident of Puerto Rico if such services are performed as an employee of the United States or any agency thereof. The place where the services are performed is immaterial for purposes of this subparagraph.
(14) Supplemental unemployment compensation benefits. (i) Supplemental unemployment compensation benefits paid to an individual after December 31, 1970, shall be treated (for purposes of the provisions of Subparts E, F, and G of this part which relate to withholding of income tax) as if they were wages, to the extent such benefits are includible in the gross income of such individual.
(ii) For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “supplemental unemployment compensation benefits” means amounts which are paid to an employee, pursuant to a plan to which the employer is a party, because of the employee's involuntary separation from the employment of the employer, whether or not such separation is temporary, but only when such separation is one resulting directly from a reduction in force, the discontinuance of a plant or operation, or other similar conditions.
(iii) For the meanings of the terms “involuntary separation from the employment of the employer” and “other similar conditions”, see subparagraphs (3) and (4) of § 1.501(c)(17)-1(b) of this chapter (Income Tax Regulations).
(iv) As used in this subparagraph, the term “employee” means an employee within the meaning of paragraph (a) of § 31.3401(c)-1, the term “employer” means an employer within the meaning of paragraph (a) of § 31.3401(d)-1, and the term “employment” means employment as defined under the usual common law rules.
(v) References in this chapter to wages as defined in section 3401(a) shall be deemed to refer also to supplemental unemployment compensation benefits which are treated under this subparagraph as if they were wages.
(15) Split-dollar life insurance arrangements. See § 1.61-22 of this chapter for rules relating to the treatment of split-dollar life insurance arrangements.
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