Doing payroll in Maryland requires knowing local laws such as the $11.75 state minimum wage, and keeping track of state and local income tax withholding schedules. It has many more nuances than the average state—for instance, there are 23 counties that charge local taxes. Maryland also has its own state laws that affect payroll, from employee calculation to paid time off, some of which are stricter than federal law.
The best way to manage your payroll, from pay runs to maintaining documents and employee files, is to use payroll software like Gusto. It makes it easy to stay compliant with federal, state, and local laws, pay employees on time in a variety of ways, and keep documents in an easy-to-access file system. Learn more about Gusto and see if it’s right for you.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Doing Payroll in Maryland
Step 1: Set up your business as an employer. At the federal level, you need your employer ID number (EIN) and an account in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).
Step 2: Register with Maryland state. Register with the state within 20 days of doing business by sending a Combined Registration Application to the Maryland Department of Labor. Alternatively, you may fill out the application online. You will also need to apply for a BEACON account for paying State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA) taxes.
Step 3: Set up your payroll. In most cases, you need to pay employees semi-monthly at least. You can do it by hand (we don’t recommend that), set up an Excel payroll template, or sign up for a payroll software.
Step 4: Collect employee payroll forms. This is easiest to do during onboarding. Payroll forms include W-4, I-9, and Direct Deposit information. For Maryland, you need the Form MW507.
Step 7: File payroll taxes with the federal and Maryland state government. Follow the IRS instructions for federal taxes, including unemployment.
- Maryland Income Taxes: File and pay these online via bFile Maryland. You can also bulk upload W-2s. You must withhold by the following schedule:
If you paid
You must pay
Over $15,000 in the preceding calendar year and have $700+ accumulated withholding
Within three days of payroll date
Less than $700 withholding per quarter
Quarterly (April 15, July 15, October 15, January 15)
More than $700 in a quarter
Monthly (15th of the following month)
Less than $250 in a calendar year
Annually (January 31 of the following year)
- SUTA: Pay your SUTA by automated clearing house (ACH) or credit card via BEACON. State unemployment insurance (UI) tax reports and payments are due by the following dates:
For Wages Paid During
Calendar Quarter Ends
Must be Filed and Paid By
Jan, Feb, Mar
Apr, May, Jun
Jul, Aug, Sep
Oct, Nov, Dec
If the due date for a report or tax payment falls Saturday or Sunday, reports and payments are due the following business day.
Step 8. Document and store your payroll records. In Maryland, it’s best to retain your payroll documents for at least three years. For complete information, read our article on what payroll documents to keep, or check out Maryland’s recordkeeping requirements.
For a more general walkthrough of doing payroll according to federal law, check out our how to do payroll guide.
Maryland Payroll Laws, Taxes, and Regulations
Naturally, you need to begin by following federal law for income taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) taxes. Social Security and Medicare are called FICA taxes and are withheld from each employee’s paycheck at respective rates of 6.2% and 1.45%; you’ll also pay a matching amount out of your bank account.
To learn more about federal payroll taxes and withholdings, check out our article on taxes, FICA, and FUTA.
Maryland has state and local taxes, making it more complicated to manage. You’ll need to know where each employee resides so you’re aware of which tax agencies you’re responsible for paying.
State Income Taxes
Maryland has a graduated income tax rate of a flat amount plus a percentage over a specific income. You can find the tax tables on the Maryland Taxes website to help you determine how much you should withhold.
You need to withhold taxes for all employees except the following:
- Those making less than $5,000 annually
- Domestic workers in a private home, college club, fraternity, or sorority
- Nonresident maritime workers
- Certain nonresidents
- Single and student employees whose total income is less than specific amounts, such as $234.62 weekly or $12,200 annually. See the chart on Page 9 of the Maryland Withholding Guide for a full list.
- Military spouses claiming exemption under the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act. (Be sure they fill out a Form MW507M.)
Local Income Taxes
In addition, Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City also levy local income taxes, which range between 2.25% and 3.2%. There are taxes for nonresidents as well. The latest rates by county are below, and the Maryland Withholding Guide has the tax tables.
2021 Local Tax Rates by County
Local Tax Area
2021 Tax Year
Anne Arundel County
Prince George's County
Queen Anne's County
St. Mary's County
Maryland Resident Employees Who Work in Delaware
If you have offices in Delaware, your employees who are Maryland residents are taxed at different rates. Find the rates table on Page 10 of the Maryland Withholding Guide.
Unemployment Insurance (UI)
Maryland charges SUTA taxes, which are based on a taxable wage base of $8,500. The standard rate for new employers is 2.3%. Rates range from 2.2% to 13.5% for experienced employers and are noted in Rate Table F. Employers in the construction industry headquartered in another state have a 7% rate.
An employer’s UI benefit ratio is computed by dividing their experience rate by the amount of taxable wages paid to employees in the prior three fiscal years ending June 30. The experience rate is the dollar amount of UI benefits paid to former employees.
Employers are not financially responsible for employees furloughed due to COVID-19, which can change your chargeable benefits paid to former employees from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, but does not impact employer rates for 2021.
The following employee types are exempt from UI coverage in certain conditions, which you can find in the Maryland Employer’s Quick Reference Guide.
- Taxicab drivers
- Owner-operated tractor drivers in certain E and F classifications
- Maritime employment
- Election workers
- Church employees and clergy
- Railroad employment
- Newspaper delivery
- Insurance and real estate sales
- Messenger service
- Direct sellers
- Foreign employment
- Work-relief and work-training
- Family members
- Hospital patients
- Student nurses or interns
- Yacht salespersons who work for a licensed trader on solely a commission basis
- Services of aliens who are students, scholars, trainees, teachers, etc., who enter the US solely to pursue a full course of study at certain vocational and other non-academic institutions
- Recreational sports officials
- Home workers
- Casual labor such as yardwork
Did you Know?:
When you pay SUTA taxes, you may qualify for up to a 5.4% discount on your FUTA taxes.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Employers who have one or more employees, full or part-time, must provide workers’ compensation insurance. You can purchase it from a licensed insurance company or the Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company, which is Maryland’s state-operated fund.
For more information on workers’ comp laws in Maryland, cost, and providers, check out our Maryland workers’ comp guide.
Minimum Wage Laws in Maryland
The Maryland minimum wage applies to workers 18 and older. Employees under 18 must earn at least 85% of the minimum wage. Maryland is gradually increasing its minimum wage to $15. These are the current published rates:
Employers with 15+ employees
Employers with 14 or fewer employees
$11.75 per hour
$11.60 per hour
$12.50 per hour
$12.20 per hour
Please note: Montgomery County has its own minimum wage statute, which requires $15 for large employers starting July 2022, for mid-sized employers starting July 1, 2024, and for small employers starting July 1, 2025.
The following exemptions apply:
- Immediate family
- Certain agricultural employees
- Executive, administrative, and professional employees
- Outside salesmen
- Commissioned employees
- Employees who are trainees in a public school special education program
- Restaurants, bars, etc., earning less than $400,000 gross annually
- Drive-in theaters
- Food canning
- Non-administrative camp employees
If an employee earns more than $30 per month in tips, they must be paid the state minimum wage. Tips can count for all but $3.63 per hour.
Maryland Overtime Regulations
Employees in Maryland must be paid 1.5 times their hourly rate if they work over 40 hours in a workweek, which mirrors federal overtime rules.
- Cab drivers
- Auto sales and repair
- Nonprofit concert promoters, theater, festival, or music
- Seasonal amusement and recreational establishments
- Agricultural workers (60 hours allowed)
- Bowling establishments (48 hours)
- On-premise care (other than hospitals) for sick, aged, or disabled (48 hours)
Different Ways to Pay Employees
You can pay employees by cash, check, or direct deposit. However, you cannot require an employee to use direct deposit. This means you’ll need to offer at least two payment options if direct deposit is one payment method you plan to use.
Maryland Pay Stub Laws
Maryland requires that you provide employees with a pay stub each pay period with gross earnings, deductions, employer contact information, how wages are earned (salary, hourly, commission, etc.), net wages, allowances, overtime, piece rates, deductions, and net pay. You can learn more from the Pay Stub Transparency Act of 2016.
If you’d like a template for creating your own pay statements, then download one of our free paystub templates. They’re already formatted, so you can print and use them today.
Minimum Pay Frequency
Employees who are not in executive, professional, or administrative roles must be paid every two weeks or twice a month.
They must be paid on time; if a payday falls on a non-workday like a weekend or a holiday, they must be paid on the preceding workday, not after.
For help tracking your pay dates and periods, download one of our free payroll calendars.
Paycheck Deduction Rules
You can deduct money from an employee’s pay for the following:
- Court-ordered deductions such as child support garnishments
- To pay for something of value an employee received such as an advance or loan
- Something the employee had expressly agreed to, such as health benefits or to recompense for damages or theft caused by the employee
- Uniforms with the company logo
Some deductions are subtracted before taxes are calculated; this helps save your employees and you money. To learn more about how that works, check out our article on post vs pre tax deductions.
Final Paycheck Laws
Final paychecks must be paid on or before the employee’s regular payday. You do not need to allow an employee to work two weeks before termination or pay them for the time they were not allowed to work. Unused PTO may or may not be paid out, depending on written company policy. Unused sick leave does not need to be paid out unless written in company policy.
If you find yourself needing to cut a check quickly, use one of our recommended tools to print paychecks for free.
Accrued Paid Time Off
Maryland does not require paid time off, vacation, or sick leave. Follow federal standards. The exception is for retail workers, who can request a religious day of rest each week, as long as they do so in writing.
Paid Sick Leave
In addition to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, Maryland employees follow two additional laws:
- The Maryland Flexible Leave Act authorizes employees of employers with 15 or more workers to use “leave with pay” for illnesses in their immediate family.
- The Maryland Earned Sick and Safe Leave Act mandates that employers earn sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours, with a maximum of 40 in a year and an accumulation of 64 hours at any time. This leave can be used for caring for one’s own mental or physical health, preventative medical care, care of a family member, maternity/paternity leave, or handling issues due to domestic violence not perpetrated by the employee.
Eligible employees are allowed six weeks total of unpaid parental leave in a 12-month period for the birth or adoption or fostering of a child.
Day Off for Deployments
If you employ more than 50 people, any employee who has worked for you at least 12 months with 1,250 hours worked in that time, is allowed a day of leave to send off or welcome a military member who is deploying on or returning from active duty outside the US. This applies only to immediate family members. It does not have to be paid leave, but you cannot require them to use accrued leave, sick, or vacation leave.
Maryland HR Laws That Affect Payroll
Maryland has some state-specific HR laws, and some affect payroll.
Maryland New Hire Reporting
You can report new hires through the Maryland New Hires Reporting portal. You must do this within 20 days of their hire or rehire date. If you cannot access the portal, you can fill out the New Hires Form and mail it in.
Lunch and Other Break Time Requirements
The only break laws in Maryland apply to minors and retail workers.
- Breaks for retail workers: Retail workers must receive lunch and short breaks. This applies to stores or franchises employing over 150 people working each day in the last 20 or more calendar weeks. If an employee earns more than half their earnings from commissions and they earn more than 1.5 times the minimum wage for each hour worked, they are exempt from this rule.
Qualifying employees receive the following entitlements:
Break Requirements Per Hours Worked
4 to 6 consecutive hours
More than 6 consecutive hours
8 or more consecutive hours
30-minute break plus a 15-minute break for every additional 4 consecutive hours.**
*For employees working less than six consecutive hours, the 15-minute break requirement may be waived by written agreement between the employer and employee.
**An employee who is entitled to a 30-minute break is not entitled to the 15-minute break as well. The additional consecutive hours begin following the employee’s previous break. For example, if an employee works a 10-hour shift and is given a 30-minute break at hour 5, the employee would be entitled to a 15-minute break at hour 9.
- Breaks for Minors: Minors under 18 must receive a 30-minute break for every five hours worked.
Minors under 18 must have a work permit to work in Maryland. Minors under 14 cannot get work permits. Minors cannot work hazardous jobs as defined by federal law. Student learners have other rules. Learn more on the DOL website or download the Minor Fact Sheet.
Minors 14 and 15 may not work
- During school hours
- More than three hours a day or 18 hours a week when school is in session
- More than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week when school is not in session
- Work between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. (between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. from June 1 to Labor Day)
Minors 16 and 17
- May not work more than 12 hours of combined school and work in a day
- Must have eight consecutive non-work/non-school hours every 24 hours
Maryland has several state-specific forms that may be applicable to your business. The state W-4 form is one all employers need; the others will depend on the type of organization you have and the type of employees.
Maryland State W-4 Form
MW507: Maryland’s state income tax withholding form. If not filled out, then you use the deductions listed in the federal W-4.
Other Maryland State Payroll and Tax Forms
- MW507M: For military spouses requesting a waiver from tax withholdings
- MW508: Annual Employer Withholding Reconciliation Form
- MW508CR: For nonprofits claiming income tax credits
- Maryland State Directory of New Hires Form: For use if you cannot report your new hire online
Federal Payroll Forms
- W-4 Form: To help employers calculate taxes to withhold from employee paychecks
- W-2 Form: Reporting total annual wages earned (one per employee)
- W-3 Form: Reports total wages and taxes for all employees
- Form 940: Reports and calculates unemployment taxes due to the IRS
- Form 941: Filing quarterly income and FICA taxes withheld from paychecks
- Form 944: Reporting annual income and FICA taxes withheld from paychecks
- 1099 Forms: Providing non-employee pay information that helps the IRS collect taxes on contract work
For a more detailed discussion of federal forms, check out our guide on federal payroll forms you may need.
Maryland Payroll Tax Resources and Sources
- Maryland Department of Labor: Information on labor laws, UI, forms access, and more
- Maryland Employment Standards Service Page: Links to notices you’re required to post for employees, plus information on minimum wage, guidelines, and questions. (Much is written for employees rather than employers.)
- Maryland Comptroller: Information on business taxes and where you can register your business
- Employer’s Quick Reference Guide for Unemployment Insurance: Who pays, how much to pay, how to pay, and other important information about SUTA
- Maryland Withholding Guide: Everything you need to know about Maryland taxes but were afraid to ask
- Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission: Information about workers’ compensation, mostly from an employee POV
For more help with federal payroll regulations, check out our payroll compliance guide.
Maryland not only has state income tax but local income taxes as well. It charges unemployment taxes of up to 13.5%. Its rules on vacation and breaks are different from most states, and the minimum wage is different in Montgomery County. Be sure you understand the laws affecting payroll not only for the state but also for your local area.
To avoid paying penalties or fines, you should consider using payroll software like Gusto to help. It keeps track of all taxes—both employer and employee—and ensures you pay the most up-to-date rates. If ever wrong and you’re penalized by a tax agency, Gusto will foot the bill. Try it free for 30 days.