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Au Pair in America - Taxes Explained

2nd Jul 2020

Au Pair in the United States of America is a meaningful way to care for children and share educational and cultural experiences, bringing together so many opportunities into one incredible experience.

What is an Au Pair?

Au pair describes a class of Exchange Visitors who stays temporarily in someone else's home in the US. There are more than 10,000 au pairs in the US and they are always admitted into the country on a J-1 visa. They are not allowed to remain for longer than one year and one of the conditions is that an au pair must be between the ages of 18 and 26.

Au pairs are usually students who stay with host families chosen by sponsoring organizations and are provided a private bedroom, meals, two weeks paid vacation, up to $500 toward attending an institution of higher education, and a cash stipend tied to the US minimum wage. They are not allowed to work more than 45 hours per week and are only expected to perform child-care functions (no housekeeping).

Paid taxes and social contribution

Host families are not required to withhold taxes unless the au pair (employee) requests that taxes be withheld and the host family (employer) then agrees to do so. Besides, host families usually do not need to pay federal unemployment tax for their au pairs.

According to the IRS, Au pairs are not really "students" in the US and therefore are not eligible to exclude their wages from gross income under the student article of any US income tax treaty. Au pairs are not eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Hope Credit, or the Lifetime Learning Credit either.

Au pairs might only be subject to social security and Medicare taxes if they had previously been in the US as a student, teacher, trainee, or researcher with F, J, M, or Q visa.

Filing your tax return

The Internal Revenue Service considers an au pair to be an “employee” of the host family so au pairs are required to file US individual income tax returns. Au Pair wages are includible in the gross income of the recipients and for that season a record of the au pair income received from the host family is required to file. The day taxes are due has been extended to July 15, 2020. At the current wage rate, it is likely that the au pair will have an income tax liability on their US individual income tax return because nonresident aliens (with certain exceptions) are not able to claim the standard deductions.

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