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I work at an accredited community college. I ask this because my paycheck, along with several other colleagues, had 0 withholdings for state, federal, and ssn. I was told that we get tax breaks because we work for the government, but that answer seems very incorrect to me.

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    When you said "0 withholdings" did you mean "$0 withholdings" or "no withholdings". The latter should indicate that you are paying your maximum estimated tax obligation each pay cycle while the former would indicate that you have like 99 withholdings or something. – Frank FYC Sep 26 '17 at 23:50
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    State employees are certainly not generically exempt from federal taxes. At least in my state, they are not exempt from state taxes either. They can be exempt from social security tax, but it depends on the state. Is it possible your pay is so low that you are in the 0% tax bracket? – Nate Eldredge Sep 26 '17 at 23:53
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    This really sounds like someone in payroll just screwed up. Your status as a government employee, whatever it is, doesn't exempt you from all withholding if you're earning a normal income and not a grant or stipend. – user113878 Sep 26 '17 at 23:55
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    You need to talk to someone at your college and ask to have them sort it out, and if they are being unhelpful, insist on talking to a supervisor and/or getting a detailed explanation about why your taxes aren't being withheld. Strangers on the internet won't be of much help with something like this. Pro tip: be assertive and you will clear this issue up in no time (I wish I had gotten this advice 15 years ago...). – Dan Romik Sep 27 '17 at 0:17
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    What type of employee are you? When I was a graduate student, some stipends did not have tax withholdings, but we still was responsible for paying taxes. – Richard Erickson Sep 27 '17 at 12:02
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Students at college employed by the college are exempt from the FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare). You are not exempt from federal and state income taxes, but if you are a part time employee making a small amount of money, you probably aren't projected to be paid enough between now and the end of the year to trigger the withholding.

If you are concerned that your tax burden for the year will require you to send in money at tax time next year, you can estimate what your taxes will be, and if you determine that you will owe too much, you can fill out a new W-4 form with your HR department and request that additional tax be withheld.

  • Income tax withholding doesn't vary over time unless your pay rate changes; it projects your pay to the full year and pro-rates the (estimated) tax on that, unless the employee qualifies for and requests part-year treatment which OP doesn't mention. If your annualized pay less probable deduction and exemptions leaves no taxable income, there is no withholding. For single with the basic 2 allowances this is up to $10,400 (for 2017); married, dependents or extra deductions all increase the amount. Otherwise concur. – dave_thompson_085 Sep 29 '17 at 11:09
  • @dave_thompson_085 I've reworded slightly based on your comment. Better? – Ben Miller Sep 29 '17 at 14:01

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