What the FICA?

In “The Taxing Part of the Summer Job,” Wall Street Journal, May 14-15, 2022 print edition, Laura Saunders tells young people what to expect from their first summer job.

Saunders does it well by pointing out that the big amount taken will be from the Social Security (12.4%) and Medicare (2.9%), and that for employees half of this is taken out of the employee’s check. She writes:

Because payroll taxes are flat taxes, lower earners often owe far more in payroll taxes than income taxes, says Mark Luscombe, principal tax analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting.

She doesn’t mention that the Social Security tax is listed as FICA and the Medicare tax is listed as HI. I wish she had because many young people will see that Social Security deduction not listed as Social Security and will say some version of (I’m being polite here), “What the FICA?” I don’t blame them. Social Security is a chain letter, as the Social Security Administration explains here.

Of course, the SSA doesn’t use that term but it states this:

The money you pay in taxes is not held in a personal account for you to use when you get benefits. Today’s workers help pay for current retirees’ and other beneficiaries’ benefits. Any unused money goes to the Social Security trust funds to help secure today and tomorrow for you and your family.