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home : columns : dear harriette August 9, 2020

6/23/2020 7:59:00 AM
Readers offer suggestions for unemployed nanny

DEAR READERS: I made a mistake -- even after doing some research -- on an important and timely topic, so I want to share reader feedback that may be of value to you.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Your response to the person's writing about unemployment for their nanny was not accurate.

In general, the nanny would be eligible for unemployment under the emergency Cares Act legislation passed during this crisis. This is a reference to the $600 per week that the federal government has allowed to be added to a person's state unemployment. The act allows for self-employed people to receive benefits when normally they are not allowed. Depending on the state, usually no proof of income is needed; it is a flat amount for all.

Also, the nanny would be eligible for the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program. However, documentation of income and proof of employment before the crisis hit would be needed. Like you state in your response, the nanny probably did not file taxes; if she did, she would qualify.

There is still plenty of money left in the program, and going to your community bank is the best option for better service. -- Money Left

DEAR MONEY LEFT: Thank you for sharing this information. Further research suggests that it remains difficult to get dollars from the PPP, but it certainly is worth a try.

DEAR HARRIETTE: It is never a good idea for a columnist to give legal advice. I live in California and worked at the Employment Development Department -- the government organization that handles unemployment claims. I am writing about the employer who did not report their nanny's wages. You said the nanny could not get unemployment. In California, that is not true, and it may not be true in other states as well.

If the nanny files for unemployment and the wages have not been reported, an investigation will be initiated. If the investigation finds the nanny should have been considered an employee, she will receive unemployment, and the employer will have to pay back taxes with penalty and interest. So when asked if a person is eligible for unemployment or disability, I always tell people to apply and let the government make the determination. -- In the Know

DEAR IN THE KNOW: Thank you for pointing this out. Perhaps the biggest lesson you reveal is the liability that the employer has if he or she does NOT report income for a household employee (or any other employee, for that matter). Employers are required to pay income taxes.

Perhaps this pandemic has helped or will help to wake up individuals who have been negligent in reporting income to the government. It simply is not worth it to do that. If you have paid more than $2,100 to someone, you are required by law to report the payment and pay taxes on it.

For more information, go to

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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