Wages subject to Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) contributions

Know which types of wages and payments apply to your workforce's family and medical leave contributions.

Table of Contents

Overview

Under the Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law, most Massachusetts employers are responsible for remitting family and medical leave contributions to the Department of Family and Medical Leave on behalf of their covered individuals. This can include W-2 employees and, in some cases, 1099-MISC contractors. These contributions may be covered by withholding from eligible wages. Generally, the PFML law follows the guidance of the Commonwealth's unemployment statute to determine wage eligibility as explained below.

Note: These withholdings should begin with the first payment made on or after Oct. 1, 2019. Therefore, the withholdings could be for services rendered in September but paid for in October.

Common examples of W-2 wages subject to PFML contributions

For the most part, the PFML law follows the unemployment statute (M.G.L. c. 151A) for determining what constitutes wages. This means that contributions should be based on the same wage base you report to the Department of Unemployment Assistance.

Generally, the following are considered wages:

  • Salaries, hourly pay, non-cash tips, and stipends
  • Commissions and bonuses
  • Overtime, vacation, or sick pay
  • 401K employer contributions

For a full definition of wages, please refer to section 1 of M.G.L. c. 151A.

    Additional Resources

    Common examples of payments to 1099-MISC contractors subject to PFML contributions

    Payments made to individuals or sole proprietorships are subject if you're required to issue an IRS form 1099-MISC and they qualify as covered individuals under the PFML law.

    Generally, these payments include:

    • Other income (Box 3): Depending on the nature of the payment, this category may be subject to contributions
    • Fishing boat proceeds (Box 5)
    • Medical and healthcare payments (Box 6)
    • Nonemployee compensation (Box 7)
    • Crop insurance proceeds (Box 10) 
    • Excess golden parachute payments (Box 13)

    Note that only services provided that would otherwise require the issuance of a 1099-MISC are subject to contributions. For a full description of when a 1099-MISC is required, please refer to the IRS guidance on reporting payments to independent contractors.

    Income limit

    PFML follows the same annual income limits as those set by the Social Security Administration for the Social Security Program. The 2019 income limit is set at $132,900. Social Security income limits typically reset annually and remain in effect for the calendar year.

    The 2019 PFML income limit is calculated on wages or payments made to covered individuals from the start of contribution withholdings, Oct. 1, 2019. It's not calculated on year-to-date wages.

    Tax treatment of PFML contributions

    The tax treatment of PFML contributions for both state and federal purposes is governed by federal tax law. The Commonwealth has requested guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on this question and others related to the tax implications of PFML contributions and benefits.

    Until IRS guidance is issued, individuals and businesses are urged to consult with their own tax advisors on these questions.

    Based on its own review of federal rules and following consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, the Department of Family and Medical Leave anticipates that the IRS will conclude that employee contributions should be withheld from after-tax wages.

    A definitive rule for proper tax treatment of contributions will be available once IRS guidance is issued.

    Contact

    Phone

    DFML hours of operation: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., DOR hours of operation: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

    Last updated: July 11, 2019
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