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Positions Compensated Solely by Fees

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

1015. Positions Compensated Solely by Fees

1015.1 How are services compensated solely on a fee basis treated for Social Security coverage purposes?

If you perform work in a position compensated solely by fees received directly from the public, you are considered self-employed and covered under the SECA tax (See §1125). This does not apply to positions compensated by both salary and fees.

1015.2 What is a fee-based official?

A fee-based public official is one who receives and retains remuneration directly from the public, e.g., justice of the peace, local registrar of vital statistics. If you receive payment for services from government funds in the form of a wage or salary, you are not a fee-based public official even if the compensation is called a fee.

The fee-based public official provisions do not apply to notary publics. A notary public is not a public official even though he/she performs a public function and receives a fee for services performed. The services of a notary public are not covered for Social Security purposes.

1015.3 What if both salary and fees are used as compensation?

If you receive compensation in the form of both a salary and fees, your position is considered fee-based, if the fees are the primary source of compensation. However, State law may determine that any position, for which any salary is paid, is not a fee-based position. In this case, your position may not be considered fee-based.

Last Revised: Apr. 17, 2008

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