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Three Things Every Family Needs to Understand About Hiring a Nanny

May 1, 2014


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According to recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over half a million childcare workers in North America, and a large portion of those are nannies. Nanny work and caregiving work is generally safe from the receding employment trends of certain industries (like the housing market, for example) because of how it never becomes less necessary. In modern households, it’s become quite commonplace for both parents to work, which means their priorities rest squarely on hiring a caregiver to take care of the kids.

But say you know that already. Say you’re a parent who’s recently brought a wonderful nanny into your home to help handle the child-rearing duties while you and your significant other are at work all day. Did you know that if you’re paying your nanny more than $1,800 per year, you’re actually considered a household employer by the Internal Revenue Service? That distinction can come back to bite you come tax time.

Yes, the so-called “nanny tax” is real, and one of the biggest nanny hiring mistakes new parents make is not paying it. But one of the biggest misconceptions is that nannies — or au pairs, or sitters, or whatever you’d want to call them — are a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. As it turns out, the realities of hiring a nanny (and the benefits of hiring a nanny) tend to be a bit misunderstood.

Dual-income homes don’t always represent the 1%.

Parents who base their nanny hunting on this assumption tend to be in for a rude awakening when the IRS informs them they never filled out the appropriate paperwork for taxes. That’s because today, more households are featuring two working parents both because of increased living costs and also increased education. The bottom line is if you hire a caregiver and pay him/her more than $1,800, by definition, you’ve become a household employer.

There is no “perfect” nanny for your kids.

Even the best nanny agencies don’t get it right every time. But that doesn’t mean that a string of bad caregivers automatically gives your household some stock and puts your kids in line for a Mary Poppins-type to swoop in from the skies and save the day. The truth is that a good nanny is patient, experienced, loving, knowledgeable and also individualistic. If you keep replacing your caregiver, how can you expect your children to learn to trust one?

Your children’s feelings come before your own.

Of course, there are plenty of benefits of hiring a nanny, but the most important one is how it allows your children to grow while still allowing you to bring home more income for a higher standard of living. However, just as it’s important to refrain from switching out a nanny too often, it’s crucial that you listen to your kids when they tell you they’re not getting along with their current one.

Now that you’re familiar with the realities and the benefits of hiring a nanny, it’s time to start the search. And if you have a good one already, hold onto him/her — especially when tax time rolls around.

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