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How are election workers treated for tax purposes?

| Oct 31, 2018 | Internal Revenue Service

With the midterm elections right around the corner, there is an uptick in the number of election workers on the books for local, state and federal-level elections. Many of these workers are volunteers, but some of them receive payment for their time.

If workers earn compensation, then their income might be subject to withholding and inclusion as income for tax purposes. This post will provide more insight into how election workers fare under federal tax regulations.

What is an election worker?

According to the IRS, an election worker is someone “hired by government entities to perform services at polling places in connection with national, state and local elections.” Election workers might solely serve in election-related positions, or they could hold other governmental positions as well.

Are election wages included in income for tax purposes?

In a word, yes. The IRS specifically says that payments to election workers are includible as wages for income tax purposes. Furthermore, such income might be treated as wages for purposes of withholding Social Security and Medicare (FICA).

Election worker compensation can come in several different forms. They may receive a stipend per day, an hourly wage, or a lump sum payment for the entire election period, including trainings or meeting time before and after the election. In addition, expenses for travel, mileage and more might be reimbursable. These reimbursements might not count as income if made under an “accountable plan.”

Income and expenditures made outside an accountable plan are to be included as wage income but are not subject to tax withholding unless the election worker specifically requests so under a voluntary agreement. This means that the election worker is responsible for payment of any taxes due from their election-related wages.

Understanding the compensation scheme for election workers and following the rules regarding treatment of income and withholding can help these workers providing an invaluable service avoid a surprise come April.

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