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If I have a child and elect not to get him a social security number, will he still be required to pay social security taxes? I am a U.S. citizen, as is he.

I'm trying to weigh the cost of not claiming him as a dependent on my tax return against this potential upside—but I want to be sure the upside is real first.

Edit:

First, this is not a duplicate of How do I opt-out of the Social Security system?. That question is about opting oneself out of SS; this one is about opting a dependent out.

Second, if you find yourself more occupied about my motivations than my question, please read the following disclaimers:

  • I understand that this will be inconvenient for him (and us).
  • I am not trying to evade taxes or do anything illegal.
  • Even if I were a nutjob tax evader, speculation and comment about such only serves to divert attention from the question at hand.

Third, a correction. A SSN is not required to get a job. Not even a non-religious/non-exempt job (See David's answer below.)

Lastly, a request. Please justify your answer. I'd like to see it in the applicable tax code, or at least on a reputable source like irs.gov. Thanks!

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    When he grows up, how will he get a job? Or do you plan to leave him a large trust fund?
    – jamesqf
    Jan 28, 2016 at 5:29
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    I'm confused, what would the upside be? Jan 28, 2016 at 11:33
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    What upside? This'll mainly just mean your child has massive inconveniences in the future, when they apply for health insurance, college financial aid, and jobs.
    – ceejayoz
    Jan 28, 2016 at 14:17
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    Or get a driver's license, or a hunting/fishing license, or medical insurance, or ...
    – shoover
    Jan 28, 2016 at 17:13
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    @TobiaTesan: Apparently OP has been reading a lot of tax-evasion nutjobs' websites/books/manifestos/whatnot claiming there's some way to avoid paying taxes if you don't have a SSN... Jan 28, 2016 at 18:14

3 Answers 3

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The good news is that he probably won't be required to pay SS taxes. The bad news is that the reason will be because he can't get a job without a SSN. You don't get to just opt out of the social security system wholesale like that.

However, there are some career options to avoid paying into (or getting paid out of) social security including jobs with religious institutions.

Edit: Another consideration I didn't think of previously. Even if you did manage to opt out, and assuming you somehow found a way to be employed. Consider that your EMPLOYER matches your Social Security tax payments, so you would effectively be opting out of a benefit that you only had to kick in 50% of the cost for.

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    JohnFx, US government employees - including senators and congresspeople - now (since about 1985) do pay into SS, and are entitled to its benefits on retirement. There is a separate pension plan that they also pay into.
    – user37180
    Jan 28, 2016 at 15:32
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    Since 1984, US government civilians are under the social security program and pay into it with every pay check.
    – mikeazo
    Jan 28, 2016 at 15:59
  • Federal jobs have a three-part retirement plan: FERS (pension), Social Security, and TSP (Thrift Savings Plan, similar to a 401(k)).
    – user19851
    Jan 28, 2016 at 17:18
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    True, but some state and local government employees are not covered by Social Security. They generally have their own retirement arrangements as provided by the state government. Jan 28, 2016 at 17:56
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Not getting SSN has nothing to do with his/her liability to pay SS taxes. It just makes the life more complicated and you forgo your own tax benefits that you must have child's SSN to get.

To request an exemption, your child must qualify under certain conditions and file a formal request for exemption with the SSA. See here for more details.

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Social Security is just another type of income tax (Section 301 of the IRC, "Old Age Survivors Insurance Benefit Program"). It is true that your child may not be able to obtain a drivers license in most states or obtains some other licenses but they can get a job as the courts have ruled a SSN is not required. If you want to opt out of the program (officially) then you still must first obtain a SSN and meet the criteria (being a member of a religious organization that has existed prior to 1951, etc).

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    Any better sources than a two-bit tax protester and conspiracy theorist? That reference looks suspiciously like spam to me. The website for the book advertises that "This is the book the IRS fears will cause a national tax revolt!", and hyperbole like that instinctively makes me question the content.
    – Michael A
    Jan 28, 2016 at 22:17
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    Do you have any citations for this " they can get a job as the courts have ruled a SSN is not required" that aren't in a book of dubious origin?
    – Michael A
    Jan 28, 2016 at 22:23
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    IRC Sec 301 has nothing to do with social security whatsoever.
    – littleadv
    Jan 29, 2016 at 5:46
  • There is a court decision that an employer can't demand an SSN on a job application. Once hired, that's another story. Required. Feb 9, 2018 at 1:45

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