The holiday season is wonderful for so many reasons – special time with family and loved ones, cheerful festivities, gift giving and year-end work bonuses. If you are fortunate enough to receive a bonus at your work, you might be wondering how exactly it’s taxed and what you’ll be left with afterwards. Before you share your excitement with everyone, read on to find out what you can expect.

Firstly, bonuses are treated as taxable income, just like the wages or salary you typically receive at work. They are classified as a different kind of income though, called “supplemental income” which changes the way they are treated for tax purposes. Tax withholding is likely the reason that your bonus appears smaller than you thought but those taxes can seem higher than usual for some.

Employers can typically withhold taxes from bonuses at the standard federal rate of 22%. People who usually have a federal marginal income tax rate that is lower than 22% can experience sticker shock when they see the taxes coming out of their bonuses for this reason.

Bonuses can also be subject to other tax withholding as well, like state and local income taxes. Social security and medicare taxes can also be withheld from your bonus, at 6.2% and 1.45%, respectively. In many scenarios, depending on the state and local taxes, someone could easily see around 40% of their bonus deducted for taxes. If your bonus is over $1 million, it would be taxed at a flat rate of 37%. Companies can also choose to simply lump your bonus in with your regular paycheck, where it would be taxed at your normal income rate.

Before you get sad about your shrinking bonus, remember that you might get some of that withheld tax back at tax time if your employer withheld too much. The opposite is also true, if you are in a higher tax bracket than the standard 22% that your bonus was taxed at, you might owe more. And, especially if your bonus is six figures or more, it can push you into a higher tax bracket than you would be otherwise. Still, any bonus is a gift we the accountants can certainly appreciate! If you have any questions related to income tax or payroll expenses, feel free to contact a ClarkSilva team member – we’d be happy to help you out!