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How is Social Security financed?

(Last updated: March 25, 2008)
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Social Security is financed through a dedicated payroll tax. Employers and employees each pay 6.2 percent of wages up to the taxable maximum of $102,000 (in 2008), while the self-employed pay 12.4 percent.

In 2007, $656 billion (84 percent) of total OASI and DI income came from payroll taxes. The remainder was provided by interest earnings ($110 billion or 14 percent) and revenue from taxation of OASDI benefits ($19 billion or 2 percent).

The payroll tax rates are set by law and for OASI and DI apply to earnings up to a certain amount. This amount, called the earnings base, rises as average wages increase. In 2008, the earnings base for OASDI is $102,000.

Tax rates for employees and employers each under current law
2000 and later 5.30 0.90 6.20
SOURCE: 2008 OASDI Trustees Report.
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