Tips & Tricks

Partnering for Savings: Hiring Your Spouse

Incorporate your spouse in your business

I’ve been on this mission to grow my firm big enough to hire my wife. She currently serves as a director for a global brand and is very good at what she does. But, the thought of us working together sounds so exciting! While I can’t steal her away to full-time yet, I can incorporate her into the practice in a limited capacity...AND save some tax dollars in the process. 

If you own your own business and operate as a proprietorship or partnership (wherein your spouse is not a partner), one of the smartest tax moves you can make is hiring your spouse to work as your employee. But, the tax savings may be a mirage if you don’t pay your spouse the right way. The arrangement is subject to attack by the IRS if your spouse is not a bona fide employee. 

What you need to know before hiring your spouse

Here are 4 things you should know before you hire your spouse that will maximize your savings and minimize the audit risk.

1. Pay benefits, not wages. The way to save on taxes is to pay your spouse using tax-free employee benefits, not taxable wages. Benefits such as health insurance are fully deductible by you as a business expense, but is not taxable income for your spouse. Also, if you pay your spouse only with tax-free fringe benefits, you don't need to pay payroll taxes, file employment tax returns, or file a W-2 for your spouse.

2. Establish a medical reimbursement arrangement. The most valuable fringe benefit you can provide your spouse-employee is reimbursement for health insurance and uninsured medical expenses. You can accomplish this through a 105-HRA plan if your spouse is your sole employee or an Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangement (ICHRA) if you have multiple employees. 

3. Provide benefits in addition to health coverage. There are many other tax-free fringe benefits you can provide your spouse in addition to health insurance, including education related to your business, up to $50,000 of life insurance, and de minimis fringes such as gifts. 

4. Treat your spouse as a bona fide employee. For your arrangement to withstand IRS scrutiny, you must be able to prove that your spouse is your bona fide employee. You’ll have no problem if:

• you are the sole owner of your business.

• your spouse does real work under your direction and keeps a timesheet.

• you regularly pay your spouse’s medical and other reimbursable expenses from your separate business checking account.

• your spouse’s compensation is reasonable for the work performed.

If you are happily (yes, this is a prerequisite) married and want to discuss this further, please contact us today.

Drop us a message and see how we can help you!

“We leverage leading practices and disruptive technology to do more than just balance the books. We're actually building the business. And that's our edge.”
Robert L Whittley CPA
CEO & Founder

Get in touch with us

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.