When an employee receives a paycheck in the United States, one of the deductions from the check is social security. I once tried to get this removed from my paycheck and the payroll company told me that they can not do this. Due to this, I was wondering if there is some sort of law that requires employees to pay Social Security?

  • On what basis did you ask to have the deduction removed? IIRC there are some exceptions to the FICA tax but they are indeed exceptional.
    – phoog
    Sep 26, 2016 at 5:06
  • I use my own retirement schemes (401K, IRA's, etc) and did not want to invest into SS as I felt my funds would have a greater ROI in those accounts. Sep 26, 2016 at 5:08
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    social security isn't an investment scheme. It's a tax that pays for the retirement income of those who are retired today. When you retire, future workers will pay for your benefit check.
    – phoog
    Sep 26, 2016 at 5:10
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    (I realize this is an old post.) @phoog So... a pyramid scheme? Nov 22, 2017 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


There sure is: the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). See 26 USC 3101.

In addition to other taxes, there is hereby imposed on the income of every individual a tax equal to 6.2 percent of the wages (as defined in section 3121(a)) received by the individual with respect to employment (as defined in section 3121(b)).

Moreover, your employer is required to withhold this tax from your wages. See Section 3102.

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    I'm generally aware that railroad workers are not covered by social security. The categorical phrase in the quote "every individual" stands out since the IRS states this: "Because this is a separate system for railroad employers, payments subject to railroad retirement taxes are specifically excepted from FICA, FUTA, and the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA)." I find other named exceptions plausible. Are railroaders the only one? irs.gov/businesses/…
    – user662852
    Sep 26, 2016 at 21:28
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    @user662852: No, there are a number of other exceptions. I happen to be one: state employees in certain states that have opted out of Social Security, provided there is a mandatory public employee retirement system in its place. See ssa.gov/slge/index.htm. Others include certain religious groups (e.g. Amish), student workers, nonresident aliens, etc. See turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tools/tax-tips/General-Tax-Tips/… Sep 27, 2016 at 12:17
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    @user662852: Of course, any time a law says "every", it is free to then create exceptions. But my point was just that in general, the payment of social security tax is mandatory and not voluntary, and that it is not possible to opt out solely because you don't wish to pay it. That seemed to be OP's main question. Sep 27, 2016 at 12:19

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