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Social Security payroll tax levels the same for 2016

Q: Did Social Security payroll tax levels change for 2016?

A: No. In 2016 the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security tax is $118,500, the same as for 2015.

Annual Social Security payroll taxes are paid up to a maximum amount set by law when you have wages or self-employment income that is covered by Social Security.

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) is the official IRS Code name for this. Whether called FICA or Social Security payroll tax, it is the same thing.

Medicare payroll tax does not have a maximum taxable base limit and continues for all applicable wage and self-employment income during the year even after Social Security tax withholding ends.

Also unchanged, in 2016 the combined Social Security and Medicare tax rate continues at 7.65 percent, paid by both employers and employees, and 15.3 percent paid by the self-employed. Of the 7.65 percent, 6.20 percent helps fund Social Security retirement, survivors and disability benefits and 1.45 percent is for Medicare.

If you have more than one job, each employer must withhold payroll taxes without regard to what other employers have withheld. If applicable, claim a refund of overpaid taxes when filing your income tax return.

Payroll tax continues even when a person receives monthly Social Security benefits. New earnings are automatically reviewed each year to see if they increase benefits.

Did you know? Weather or unanticipated events can force a local Social Security office to unexpectedly close temporarily. See if your office is open at the SSA website,

The link to Closings & Emergencies from the Items of Interest section is at the lower left of the homepage.

Good weather or bad, most Social Security business can be handled without visiting an office.

Including filing an application for benefits, online or telephone options are available.

Online services are shown at the website with more available when you create your personal, pin and password protected, my Social Security account at

The SSA national toll-free number is 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778).

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Read his online articles at Contact him at