How to Handle a Nanny Share

To afford professional, in-home childcare, many families look to share the cost of a nanny with another family. What are rules and regulations of this arrangement?

For the purpose of discussing legal obligations, a nanny share (sometimes called a care share) is defined as two families sharing the expense of employing a nanny to care for their children as a group. The nanny and children may alternate between the two family homes, but care is provided to the children of both families as one job for the nanny. The nanny has two employers, each paying their agreed-upon share of her compensation.

If two families hire the same nanny to care for their children, but the care is provided separately, this is not a nanny share arrangement. This is different because the children are not cared for as a group the nanny works for one family at a time and the children are cared for in their home. In this case, the nanny has two part-time jobs.

How Payroll and Taxes Work in a Nanny Share

In a nanny share, each family is viewed as a separate household employer in the eyes of the law (even if the care is provided in only one of the homes). The nanny takes direction from both families and both families share in the expense of their wages.

Each family is required to establish themselves as a household employer with the IRS and the state. The families should pay the nanny separately and withhold and remit payroll taxes appropriately to the IRS and state agencies on their portion of her salary.

Although it may seem administratively easier to have one family handle tax withholdings and remittance on the full salary, this creates risk for the family who is not registered as a household employer with the IRS and the state tax agencies. In addition, there is risk for the family who pays the nanny in full and then has to collect from the second family.

Read more about setting up a nanny payroll account.

Tax Breaks Available When Both Families Pay Legally

When each family is established as a household employer and is properly handling employer tax obligations on their portion of the nanny share, both families can potentially take tax breaks of up to $2,500 per year. Most families in a nanny share realize tax savings that far exceed their employer tax costs, so they actually come out ahead financially. This is because they are splitting the cost of the nanny's wages and therefore have a smaller amount of tax liability.

For more information, visit our page on Child Care Tax Breaks or visit our Employer Budget Calculator for an estimate of your savings.