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United States and NY state here. I'm looking at my paystub and under Employee Tax Witholdings I'm seeing the following line items taken out:

  • Federal Income Tax
  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • NY State Withholdings Tax
  • NY Family Leave Insurance
  • NY SDI

Federal Income, Social Security and Medicare I am familiar with. The last three (NY State Withholdings Tax, NY Family Leave Insurance and NY SDI) I have never heard of before.

Are these three optional? Meaning I could fill out a W4 differently and not see anything taken out by them?

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The "NY State Withholdings" is going to be your state income tax, and as such will adjust based on your W-4, while the other two are payroll taxes are for state programs. In general none of these are optional, but there are always special cases, for example for paid family leave it depends on if your employer has 50+ employees, or for Social Security certain jobs and religions don't pay in, etc. Best to check with your accountant.

More details are available in publication NYS-50-T-NYS (tax.ny.gov) plus paidfamilyleave.ny.gov for those other two items. Yonkers and NYC have their own rates. You can also end up owing to both NJ and NY state depending on your situation.

Upshot is that your W-4 is not going to have much bearing on the state disability insurance and family leave insurance, and that both items should be very small.

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