Summer Jobs for Kids: Earn Tax Breaks & Valuable Lessons (Following IRS Rules)


With summer approaching, many parents consider the benefits of employing their children in family-owned businesses. Not only does this arrangement instill a good work ethic and provide valuable work experience for kids, but it can also lead to potential tax advantages for the family. Hiring your children can result in significant tax breaks if you follow the proper guidelines. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the rules and regulations surrounding this practice, ensuring you fully comprehend the intricacies involved.

A picture of a family business owner working with their children in an office setting

At, we are dedicated to helping you build a secure financial future through investing, retirement planning, and money management. Our actionable tips and tools enable you to plan confidently for retirement, invest wisely, and manage your finances like a pro. Let's delve into how hiring your children this summer can contribute to your financial goals while also providing tax benefits for your household.

The Benefits of Hiring Your Children

1. Instilling a Strong Work Ethic

One of the foremost benefits of hiring your children is the invaluable lessons they learn about responsibility, time management, and the value of money. Working in a family-owned business fosters a sense of accountability and teaches kids the importance of earning their keep. These skills are essential for both personal and professional development.

2. Gaining Practical Work Experience

When children work within the family business, they acquire hands-on experience that can be immensely beneficial in their future careers. This experience can also inspire an entrepreneurial spirit, potentially motivating them to start their own businesses someday.

3. Achieving Tax Breaks

Employing your children can result in significant tax savings for your family, but it's vital to adhere to IRS guidelines. These tax breaks can come from various avenues, including deducting wages paid to your children and reducing your overall taxable income. However, careful consideration and compliance with specific rules are crucial to maximizing these benefits.

Understanding IRS Guidelines

1. The Employment Relationship

For tax purposes, the IRS requires a bona fide employer-employee relationship between the parent and the child. This means that the child must perform legitimate work for the business and receive reasonable compensation for their efforts. To establish this relationship:

  • Ensure the child is performing tasks appropriate for their age and capabilities.
  • Document the job description and responsibilities.
  • Maintain a formal payroll record, including timesheets and pay stubs.

2. Reasonable Compensation

The IRS mandates that children must receive reasonable compensation for the work performed. This compensation should be comparable to what you would pay a non-family member for the same tasks. To determine reasonable compensation:

  • Consider industry standards and local wage rates for similar jobs.
  • Keep detailed records of the hours worked and corresponding wages paid.
  • Avoid overcompensation, as it could raise red flags during an IRS audit.

3. Age Restrictions and Requirements

While there are no strict age restrictions, certain rules vary based on the child's age:

  • Children under 18 are generally exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes if employed in a family business structured as a sole proprietorship or partnership where each partner is a parent of the child.
  • Children aged 18 and older are subject to standard payroll taxes.
  • Ensure compliance with state labor laws regarding the minimum working age and permissible hours of work for minors.

Maximizing Tax Savings

1. Tax Deductible Wages

Wages paid to your children are tax-deductible for the business, reducing your overall taxable income. By lowering the business's income, you can decrease the amount of income subject to self-employment tax. This dual tax benefit can lead to substantial savings.

2. Shifting Income

Shifting income to your children can result in tax savings, as children typically fall into lower tax brackets. By allocating a portion of the business income to your children, you may reduce the family's overall tax liability. However, it's essential to remain within the confines of IRS guidelines to avoid complications.

3. Standard Deduction for Children

As of 2024, the standard deduction for single filers, which most children qualify for, is $13,850. If your child's earned income does not exceed this amount, they will not owe federal income tax. Paying your child a salary up to this threshold can potentially make their earnings tax-free.

Creating a Formal Employment Agreement

1. Drafting a Job Description

Begin by drafting a formal job description outlining the responsibilities and expectations for your child's role. This document should include specific tasks, working hours, and performance metrics. A well-defined job description helps demonstrate a legitimate employment relationship and supports your case during an audit.

2. Maintaining Timesheets and Payroll Records

Accurate record-keeping is vital to substantiate your claims of employment and reasonable compensation. Ensure you maintain detailed timesheets documenting hours worked and tasks completed. Additionally, keep comprehensive payroll records, including copies of checks issued and bank statements showing the payments made.

3. Establishing Performance Reviews

Consider implementing periodic performance reviews for your child's work. These reviews provide an opportunity to assess their progress, offer constructive feedback, and make necessary adjustments to their responsibilities. Documenting performance evaluations reinforces the legitimacy of the employment relationship.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Failing to Document Work Performed

One of the most frequent mistakes parents make is failing to document the work their children perform. Proper documentation is crucial to proving the legitimacy of the employment relationship. Without detailed records, the IRS may disallow the tax benefits.

2. Overcompensating Your Child

While it may be tempting to pay your child a generous salary, overcompensation can raise red flags during an IRS audit. Ensure that the compensation aligns with the industry standards and is reasonable for the work performed.

3. Neglecting State Labor Laws

Beyond federal regulations, it's essential to comply with state labor laws governing the employment of minors. These laws vary by state and cover aspects such as minimum wage, permissible working hours, and required permits. Familiarize yourself with your state's specific regulations to avoid legal complications.


Hiring your own kids this summer can be a win-win situation, offering valuable life lessons for your children and significant tax savings for your family. By following the IRS guidelines and maintaining proper documentation, you can take full advantage of the tax breaks available to family-owned businesses. Remember to adhere to reasonable compensation practices and comply with state labor laws to ensure a smooth and beneficial employment arrangement.

At, we are committed to helping you build a secure financial future through smart investing, effective retirement planning, and expert money management. Explore our tips and tools to manage your finances like a pro and plan your financial future with confidence. Employing your children is just one of the many strategies to optimize your financial well-being. Start this summer and see the benefits for both your family and your business.