Can Children be Hired for a Family Business?

Hiring Your Children for Your Family Business: A Smart Strategy for Tax Benefits and Future Success

As a small business owner, you’re constantly looking for ways to maximize profits while also ensuring the long-term success of your enterprise. One strategy that often gets overlooked but can be incredibly beneficial is hiring your children to work in your family business

Not only does this arrangement offer potential tax advantages for your business, but it can also set your children up for future success by providing them with valuable skills and work experience. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of hiring your kids for your family business and how it can be a win-win situation for both you and your children.

Hiring Your Children for Your Family Business |

(Image of Mother and daughter working using a computer)

Hiring Your Children Can Lead to Tax Benefits for Small Businesses

One of the most significant advantages of hiring your children for your family business is the potential tax benefits it can provide. By employing your kids, you may be able to deduct their wages as a business expense, reducing your taxable income. Here’s how it works:

  1. Tax Deductions: When you hire your children to work in your business, you can deduct their wages as a business expense, just like you would with any other employee. This can help lower your overall tax liability, potentially saving you money come tax time.
  2. Lower Payroll Taxes: In many cases, wages paid to children under the age of 18 are exempt from Social Security, Medicare, and federal unemployment taxes. This means you can save on payroll taxes by employing your children, as you won’t have to pay these additional taxes on their wages.

Verifying Children’s Employment Status

Before hiring your children for your family business, it’s essential to ensure that their employment is legitimate and compliant with labor laws. Here are some steps you can take to verify their employment status:

  1. Obtain Necessary Permits or Licenses: Depending on your location and the nature of your business, you may need to obtain permits or licenses to employ minors. Check with your local government or labor department to understand the requirements in your area.
  2. Document Employment Terms: Clearly outline the terms of your children’s employment, including their job responsibilities, work hours, and compensation. Having written documentation helps establish the legitimacy of their employment and can protect both you and your children in case of any disputes.
  3. Provide Training and Supervision: Treat your children’s employment like you would with any other employee. Provide proper training for their job duties and ensure they have adequate supervision while they’re working. This not only helps them perform their job effectively but also demonstrates that their employment is genuine.
  4. Keep Accurate Records: Maintain detailed records of your children’s employment, including timesheets, pay stubs, and any other relevant documentation. This will not only help you track their work hours and wages but also serve as evidence of their employment if needed for tax or legal purposes.

Ideas for Children’s Roles in the Family Business

  1. Customer Service: Children can assist with greeting customers, answering phones, responding to emails, and providing basic customer support. This role helps them develop communication skills and learn how to interact with clients effectively.
  2. Administrative Tasks: Children can help with various administrative tasks such as filing paperwork, organizing documents, data entry, and scheduling appointments. This gives them exposure to office operations and organizational skills.
  3. Inventory Management: Children can assist with inventory management tasks such as restocking shelves, organizing merchandise, conducting inventory counts, and managing supply orders. This role teaches them responsibility and attention to detail.
  4. Marketing Support: Children can contribute to marketing efforts by creating social media posts, designing promotional materials, writing blog content, and assisting with marketing campaigns. This role allows them to develop creativity and digital marketing skills.
  5. Product Assembly or Production: Depending on the nature of your business, children can help with assembling products, packaging goods, or participating in production processes. This role introduces them to manufacturing processes and quality control standards.
  6. Event Assistance: Children can assist with planning and executing events hosted by the business, such as workshops, seminars, or community outreach programs. This role exposes them to event coordination and teamwork.
  7. Technology Support: Children can provide technical support for the business by helping with basic IT tasks, troubleshooting computer issues, updating software, and maintaining digital systems. This role enhances their problem-solving abilities and technological proficiency.
  8. Creative Projects: Children can contribute to creative projects within the business, such as graphic design, photography, videography, or content creation. This allows them to explore their artistic talents and contribute to branding efforts.
  9. Special Projects: Children can take on special projects or research assignments that align with their interests and the needs of the business. This could include market research, competitor analysis, or exploring new business opportunities.
  10. Assistant to Parent’s Role: Children can shadow their parents and assist them with various tasks related to their specific roles within the business. This provides them with firsthand experience and insight into business leadership and management.

By offering a variety of roles and responsibilities within the family business, children can gain valuable experience, develop essential skills, and contribute to the success of the enterprise while preparing for their future endeavors.

IRS Salary Limits for Family Business Employment

When it comes to paying your children for their work in your family business, it’s important to be aware of the salary limits set by the IRS. 

Hiring your children for legitimate work within your family business can indeed come with significant tax advantages. 

As of 2022, you can pay each of your children up to $13,850 per year without them having to pay federal income taxes on that income, thanks to the standard deduction. This limit increases to $14,600 in 2024. 

This means that your children can earn income from your business tax-free, as long as they are performing genuine work and their compensation is reasonable for the services they provide.

By taking advantage of this tax-free income opportunity, you can effectively shift income from your higher tax bracket to your children’s lower tax bracket, reducing your overall tax liability as a family. However, it’s crucial to ensure that your children’s employment is legitimate and their compensation is reasonable to avoid any issues with the IRS.

Additionally, keep in mind that state tax laws may vary, so it’s essential to consult with a tax professional or accountant familiar with the regulations in your state to ensure compliance with all applicable tax laws and regulations. With proper planning and documentation, hiring your children for your family business can be a smart tax-saving strategy while also providing valuable opportunities for your children to learn and grow within the business.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when hiring your children:

  1. Reasonable Compensation: The IRS requires that you pay your children a reasonable wage for the services they provide to your business. This means their salary should be comparable to what you would pay an unrelated employee for the same job duties.
  2. Avoid Overpaying: Paying your children excessively high wages for work that doesn’t align with their skills or responsibilities could raise red flags with the IRS. Make sure their compensation is in line with industry standards and reflects the value of their contributions to the business. 
  3. Consider Their Age and Experience: When determining your children’s salary, take into account their age, level of experience, and the complexity of their job duties. While older children with more experience may warrant higher wages, younger children performing simpler tasks may be paid less.
  4. Document Compensation Decisions: Keep documentation of how you arrived at your children’s salary, including factors such as their job responsibilities, market rates for similar positions, and any special skills or qualifications they bring to the table. This documentation can help support the reasonableness of their compensation in case of an IRS audit.

By adhering to these guidelines and ensuring that your children’s employment is legitimate and their compensation is reasonable, you can avoid potential issues with the IRS and reap the tax benefits of hiring your children for your family business.

Setting Up Your Children for Future Success

Beyond the immediate tax benefits, hiring your children for your family business can also provide them with valuable experience and skills that can benefit them in the future. Here’s how:

  1. Work Ethic and Responsibility: Working in a family business teaches children the value of hard work, responsibility, and accountability from a young age. They learn firsthand about the effort and dedication required to run a successful business, which can instill important values that will serve them well throughout their lives.
  2. Practical Skills and Experience: Whether it’s customer service, marketing, inventory management, or any other aspect of the business, working in a family business exposes children to a wide range of practical skills and real-world experiences. These skills can be invaluable as they navigate their future careers, whether they choose to continue working in the family business or pursue other opportunities.
  3. Entrepreneurial Mindset: Growing up in a family business environment can spark an entrepreneurial spirit in children, inspiring them to innovate, take risks, and pursue their business ventures in the future. By involving them in the day-to-day operations of your business, you’re providing them with a firsthand glimpse into the world of entrepreneurship and empowering them to think creatively and ambitiously.

Hiring your children for your family business can be a smart strategy that offers both immediate tax benefits for your business and long-term advantages for your children’s future success. Not only can it help lower your tax liability and save on payroll taxes, but it also provides your children with valuable skills, experience, and a strong work ethic that will serve them well in their future endeavors. So if you’re a small business owner considering whether to involve your kids in your business, the answer is clear: it can be a win-win situation for everyone involved.

This information is not intended as legal or tax advice. Cowdery Tax and its representatives does not offer legal or tax advice. We offer services for business bookkeeping, payroll, tax payments, and personal tax filings. We share information that is publicly available. Tax laws may change with or without notice that may alter or change the information contained in this publication.