Pay a Sitter

While a number of factors will determine how much you pay for babysitting while you enjoy a lovely night out, it’s important to determine a set rate with your sitter prior to scheduling her.

According to the US Department of Labor, casual babysitters – like your high school aged neighbor – may not be subject to minimum wage laws, though most sitters charge more than minimum wage. Full-time babysitters, however, are covered under the Fair Labor Standard Act and as such, must be paid at least minimum wage for each hour worked and in some states are also entitled to an overtime differential.

Whether a sitter is hired full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent, the IRS has determined the caregiver is an employee of the family for whom she works.

On average, sitters earn from $9 to $15 or more per hour.

Although a legal employee, not all families have to withhold employment taxes from their babysitter’s wages. Parents who pay less than the annual wage threshold per calendar year – $1800 for 2012 – to their babysitter qualify for the casual babysitter exemption.

Babysitters, however, are required to track all wages and report them on their annual tax returns even if no tax payment is required.

Those parents who may more than the annual wage threshold, however, must withhold the appropriate payroll taxes from their babysitter’s wages and report and pay them as required. At the end of the year a W-2 form must be given to the sitter.

HomeWork Solutions and 4nannytaxes.com, household payroll and tax experts, provide complimentary consultations to parents regarding babysitter wages.

10 Factors That Influence Babysitting Rates

While many factors influence how much a babysitter is paid, most babysitters earn between $9 and $15 or more per hour.

If you’re wondering what you should be paying your favorite sitter, consider these factors:

  1. Where you live.  Babysitting rates can vary significantly across the country with those parents in major metropolitan areas paying significantly more for a babysitter than those in rural areas.
  2. Who you hire. Parents who hire their teenage next door neighbor to babysit are going to pay less than if they hire an experienced nanny who picks up babysitting jobs on the side.
  3. Experience. Like with any profession, the more experience your babysitter has the higher her earning potential will be. Be prepared to fork out more money for an experienced sitter.
  4. Education. Babysitters who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree typically earn more than those who don’t so if your nanny’s a college grad it’s a safe bet you’ll be paying more.
  5. Duties. When looking for a babysitter you want to be sure you understand the roles and responsibilities of a sitter. Asking your sitter to clean the home, for example, will increase her desired pay rate- unless she doesn’t come back, of course.
  6. Number of children. Typically the more children you have, the more per hour a babysitter will charge. Sitters generally expect to earn an additional $1 per hour per child.
  7. Tax status. If you’ll be taking out taxes because you’ll be paying out more than $1800 per calendar year to your sitter, you’ll want to be sure you’re both talking in gross rather than net wage terms.  A sitter who wants to earn $13 an hour may ask for a raise if she learns taxes will be withheld from that amount.
  8. How you found your sitter. Sitters found through placement agencies typically come with a per day placement fee. If you find a sitter on your own, you don’t need to pay additional fees.
  9. Hours. Some babysitters may charge more for evening or overnight care. Be sure you discuss the hours you’ll need coverage to determine your sitters hourly rate.
  10. The parent’s budget. At the end of the day it isn’t the sitter’s qualifications or experience that is most influential in determining the hourly rate of pay – it’s the parent’s babysitting budget.

Before committing to booking a sitter, you’ll want to be sure you have agreed on a mutually satisfying hourly rate. If your sitter has been with you for some time and has taken exceptional care of your children, consider giving her a raise.