Understanding federal and state tax laws for payroll in 2024

Navigating the complexities of federal and state tax laws for payroll is a daunting task for businesses of all sizes. As we move into 2024, staying abreast of the latest tax regulations is crucial for ensuring compliance and avoiding costly penalties. This blog post delves into the intricacies of payroll tax laws, highlighting statistics and sourcing information from credible entities to provide a deeper understanding of what businesses need to know in 2024.

Federal payroll tax changes in 2024

Social security and medicare taxes

The federal insurance contributions act (fica) requires employers to withhold social security and medicare taxes from employees’ wages. In 2024, the social security tax rate remains at 6.2% for both employers and employees, on earnings up to the taxable wage base, which has seen an annual increase in response to inflation. The medicare tax rate continues at 1.45% of all wages, with an additional 0.9% medicare surtax for high earners exceeding certain thresholds.

Federal unemployment tax act (futa)

Futa tax rates have remained consistent, but it’s essential to note that employers may be eligible for a credit of up to 5.4% against their futa tax liability if they pay state unemployment taxes on time. This effectively reduces the futa tax rate to 0.6% on the first $7,000 of each employee’s earnings.

Federal tax brackets and withholding

The irs adjusts tax brackets annually for inflation. In 2024, these adjustments mean slight increases in the income thresholds for each tax bracket, affecting how much federal income tax is withheld from employees’ paychecks. Employers must use the irs’s updated withholding tables and the redesigned w-4 form to accurately withhold federal income tax.

State payroll tax laws in 2024

State payroll tax laws vary significantly, making compliance a complex issue for businesses operating in multiple states. Here are some key considerations for 2024:

State unemployment insurance (sui)

Sui tax rates and wage bases vary by state and are subject to change each year. Businesses should verify their state’s rates and wage base for 2024, as well as any surcharges or additional taxes that may apply.

State disability insurance (sdi)

States like california, new york, and new jersey require employers to withhold sdi taxes. The rates and wage bases for these taxes can change annually, so it’s crucial to check for updates in your state.

Local taxes

Several states have localities that impose their own income taxes, requiring additional withholding from employees’ paychecks. For example, cities like new york city and philadelphia have local income taxes with rates that may be updated yearly.

Unique insights for 2024

Remote work tax implications

The rise of remote work has introduced new tax complexities for employers. In 2024, businesses must be mindful of state tax obligations for remote employees who work in a different state than where the business is located. This can affect state income tax withholding and unemployment insurance taxes.

Tax credits and incentives

The federal government and many states offer tax credits and incentives that can reduce payroll tax liability. For example, the work opportunity tax credit (wotc) provides a federal tax credit for employers who hire individuals from certain target groups. State-specific credits may also be available, offering further opportunities for tax savings.

Navigating multi-state compliance

For businesses with employees in multiple states, understanding each state’s tax laws is essential. Utilizing payroll software that can manage multi-state tax compliance and consulting with tax professionals can help navigate these challenges effectively.


As we look ahead to 2024, understanding and complying with federal and state tax laws for payroll is more important than ever. By staying informed of changes in tax rates, brackets, and regulations, businesses can ensure accurate payroll processing and avoid penalties. Employers should consider leveraging technology and seeking professional advice to navigate the complexities of payroll tax compliance in the ever-evolving tax landscape.