Paid Family Leave (PFL) is a state program in California that provides partial wage replacement to eligible employees needing time off work for specific family-related events. The PFL program is administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and allows qualified workers to take up to 8 weeks of paid leave within a 12-month period.
To be eligible for PFL benefits in California, an employee must have contributed to the state disability insurance (SDI) fund through payroll deductions. Eligible circumstances include bonding with a new child, caring for a seriously ill family member, or military exigency leave. The PFL payment amount is typically 60-70% of the employee’s current wages.
While PFL benefits are not considered taxable income at the state level in California, they are subject to federal income taxes. Eligible employees will receive a Form 1099-G from EDD reflecting PFL amounts paid during the year, which must be reported as taxable income on the federal return. There are certain tax deductions and credits that can help minimize federal tax liability on PFL benefits.
The Paid Family Leave (PFL) program began in 2004 to help employees maintain a healthier work-life balance by supporting them financially during significant life events.
Under the program, California provides a portion of the wages to qualified employees who need to take time off from work due to certain family-related circumstances. This state-run program is governed by the California Employment Development Department (EDD).
PFL payment is granted under the following circumstances:
- Health care of an utterly ill family member.
- Time to bond with a newborn.
- Taking part in an event related to the military deployment of a family member.
To be eligible, the employee must have contributed to the SDI program through payroll deductions. The qualified person is generally paid around 60 to 70% of his current wages.
To begin with, the eligibility of the employee is verified. Once the eligibility is confirmed, one can apply for the PFL benefits, which typically involves submitting the claim form with medical reports or documentation to support the need for work leave.
Typically, one will have to wait for seven days to receive the claim benefits. As described earlier, the amount paid to the eligible employee is usually a certain percentage of the regular wage.
An employee can receive up to 8 weeks of PFL benefits within a 12-month duration. So, the claim benefits can be used intermittently according to one’s personal preference.
Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits are paid from the SDI fund. The distributed wages are not considered income in California.
Federal taxes need to be paid on PFL benefits by California residents. Eligible workers can use Form W-4V to request withholding of the benefit amount to reduce federal tax liability.
Paid Family Leave (PFL) is not taxable at the state level. However, one still needs to include the PFL information in the tax form for reporting purposes, even though the benefits are not subject to state taxes.
Since you must pay only federal taxes on PFL benefits in California, you need to report them as taxable income on the federal tax return only.
Eligible taxpayers will receive Form 1099-G by EDD, typically in January, reflecting the PFL benefits received during the financial year. You should report this amount in the ‘Other Income’ section of the tax return form.
You can also seek expert guidance from a qualified professional to help you with tax-related topics. Seeking professional assistance would be particularly helpful when you need clarification on a complex tax situation.
You can utilize the following tax deductions or credits to optimize your tax situation.
The ETC is designed to help less income-earning families in the United States. It’s a refundable credit, meaning if the credit amount exceeds the tax liability, the difference will be sent to you. The eligibility is determined by the taxpayer’s income, qualifying children, and tax filing status.
This federal credit can provide substantial tax relief for taxpayers incurring dependent or childcare expenses. The incurred expenses must be on dependent children under 13 or disabled family members who require care. The tax credit can be up to 35% of the incurred expenses.
Self-employed individuals who contributed towards the Paid Family Leave program can deduct the premium paid for the coverage. For federal taxation purposes, it can be reported as business expenses to reduce one’s overall taxable income.
There are many legal ways to minimize the tax burden related to PFL benefits.
You should be aware of what credits and deductions you can apply to the taxable income so that you can reduce the overall taxable income.
When you pay for PFL coverage independently, use after-tax dollars for premium payment. Since taxes are already paid on that money, the PFL benefits can be treated as non-taxable income.
If you receive other benefits, plan your leave wisely so that it does not overlap with other benefits. Depending on other benefits, your income might go into a higher tax bracket if you don’t time your work leave optimally.
The most common misconception regarding the tax treatment of PFL is that most people consider it taxable income in all states. However, PFL benefits are not taxable in many U.S. states. The taxability depends largely on the taxpayer’s state of residence.
It’s a misconception that PFL benefits should not be reported for federal tax purposes. Since the benefits are mostly taxable at the federal level, reporting it becomes important to ensure compliance with the law. The state agency will usually send you Form 1099-G, which will reflect the paid amount.
A job termination in between won’t stop the Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits. You will keep receiving the PFL benefits as long as you keep meeting the other eligibility requirements.
It’s a misconception that you can’t have both benefits. If the Worker’s Compensation weekly payment is less than the weekly payment of PFL, you will receive the difference amount.
The laws governing the taxation of PFL benefits vary from one state to another. It may be taxable in some states and non-taxable in others. Therefore, it’s important to check the respective state laws regarding the taxation of PFL benefits.