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2023 Social Security Taxable Wage Base and Limit
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Workforce Management

2023 Social Security Taxable Wage Base and Limit

The right data is the key to staying compliant with payroll taxes. The wrong data can lead you down the path of non-compliance, which unfortunately can include fines and penalties. This is why it’s so important to stay compliant with payroll taxes. 

Payroll tax compliance is an important issue for every small business. The right data will help you stay legal and ensure your business remains productive.

This article has been updated with the correct payroll tax figures for 2023. We’ve also included a table to show how the Social Security taxable wage base limit has increased over time.

Social Security Taxable Wage Base Increases

YearSocial Security Wage Base

Both employees and employers must pay social security tax and split the total amount due for each employee. In 2023, the social security tax withholding rate remains unchanged at 6.2% for both employees and employers. For those self-employed, the rate is 12.4% because they have no employer to split the tax with.

However, the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program sets a limit on how much of an employee’s income can be taxed each year. This limit changes annually and is based on the average wage index.

The Social Security Wage Base is the maximum gross earnings subject to Social Security tax that can be imposed on an employee. 

What is the Social Security Limit?

The Social Security limit is $160,200 for 2023, meaning any income you make over $160,200 will not be subject to social security tax. Given these factors, the maximum amount an employee and employer would have to pay is $9,932.40 each ($19,864.80 for self-employed).

What is the Medicare Tax Limit?

There is no wage limit for Medicare tax, which is currently 1.45% (same as 2022) and applied to all covered wages paid. Both employees and employers have to pay this rate—the self-employed owe all 2.9% (same as 2022).

Keep in mind, if you’re considered a highly compensated employee, your income is subject to an additional 0.9% Medicare tax (same as 2022) (employers do not have to pay this additional tax). The added tax is applied in these circumstances:

  • Married filing jointly and earn wages more than $250,000/year
  • Married filing separately and earn wages more than $125,000
  • Single and earn wages more than $200,000
  • Head of household (with qualifying person) and earn more than $200,000
  • Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child earning more than $200,000

What is the FICA Tax?

Short for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, FICA is a combination of the Social Security tax and Medicare tax. On a pay stub, it may appear as FICA (OASDI). For 2023, the total amount of FICA tax withheld totals 15.3%, again with most employees paying half, splitting the amount with their employer (unless you have self-employment income, then you have to pay the entire 15.3%).

Social Security Changes for 2023

People turning 62 in  2023 will have to be 62 for an entire month to claim full retirement benefits. Full retirement age (FRA) has gradually increased from 66 years and 10 months, for those born in 1956, to 67 years for those born in 1960. Of course, you can always claim benefits beginning at age 62, but your lifetime benefits will be reduced by about 30%.

Beginning in January 2023, more than 70 million recipients will see their Social Security benefits increase from a hefty 5.9% 8.7% cost of living adjustment (COLA) in their monthly payments, the biggest bump since 1981’s 11.2% jump for recipients.The bump will compensate for the inflation rate and amount to about $92 $146 per month for the average recipient. The average monthly Social Security payout for  2023 is $1,827 $1,657 while the maximum monthly benefit for a worker retiring at full retirement age increased by $282, which is $3,627 in 2023, up from $3,435 in 2022..

If you work while collecting Social Security, your earnings limit increases for 2023. Prior to reaching full retirement age, you can earn $21,240 before deductions are made from your Social Security payments. After that amount, $1 will be deducted from your Social Security payment for every $2 over that limit. If you reach full retirement age in 2023, you can earn $56,520 (for 2023) before your payments are dinged. For every $3 you earn over that amount, your Social Security payment will be reduced by $1. But… once you reach full retirement age, no benefits will be withheld if you decide to keep working. After age 70, there’s no real benefit to delaying retirement—unless you just want to keep working—because your monthly benefit stops increasing.

If you’re one of the 10 million Americans who qualify for Social Security disability payments, you’ll also see a decent increase of 8.7% in January 2023. For those designated as legally blind, payments will increase to $2,460 a month (effective January 2023). For the non-blind, monthly benefits increased to $1,470 a month (effective January 2023).

What are the maximum Social Security wages for 2023?

The maximum Social Security wages, or Social Security wage base for 2023 is $160,200.

Social Security COLA 2023:

How much will benefits increase next year? The Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) is based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. The increase for 2023 is 8.7%, the largest since 1981.

How the COLA is calculated:

The Social Security cost of living adjustment is based on the difference between how much the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last cost of living increase to the third quarter of the current year. If there is no increase, there will be no cost of living increase.

What is the FICA rate for 2023?

The FICA rate for 2023 remains unchanged at 7.65% for employers and 7.65% for employees. Earning self-employment income means individuals pay the entire 15.3% themselves.

Paycor Can Help with Payroll Tax

Paycor is your partner for HR and payroll tax compliance. We can offer alerts, recommendations and guidance for even the most complex situations. Don’t struggle through tax questions alone. Get help handling check printing, payroll tax filing, W-2 and 1099 processing, reporting, and more.