Working in Dallas?
Dallas: Etiquette, Social Security, and Taxation
Dust Off That Southern Politeness: Business Etiquette in Dallas
Chances are you already have a general idea about business etiquette in the United States. In Texas, however, some things may be handled a little differently. While business negotiations, like in most of the USA, tend to be rather direct and to the point, you can expect a fair amount of southern politeness while working in Dallas. It is essential to be polite, respect authority figures, open doors for the handicapped or elderly, and simply show common courtesy in general.
Greeting everyone in the room with a handshake is also a welcome gesture. After all, a firm handshake can be a sign of enthusiasm and respect. Before meetings formally begin, small talk about the weather, traffic, or the well-being of your family is very common. However, in this setting it is best to avoid controversial topics, such as politics and religion. You are, after all, deep in the heart of the Lone Star State, and most Texans tend to be rather conservative. This is also reflected in the dress code and general behavior.
Don’t Forget to Get Your Social Security Number
Everyone working in Dallas needs a social security number to collect social security benefits and receive other government services. The benefits are funded through payroll taxes and cover retirement, disability, and survivors. Currently, as an employee, you contribute 6.2% of your income to social security, and so does your employer. Medicare is funded in the same way at 1.45% of your salary. Self-employed individuals, however, pay the full 12.4% and 2.9%.
Currently, the USA has bilateral social security agreements with 25 countries. If your country of origin is among them, you won’t have to pay social security contributions in both countries. In any case, it is important that you gather as much information on social security as possible. This will help prevent any unpleasant surprises when you try to claim benefits, and it will give you a sense of when an additional insurance policy might make sense for you.
Resident or Non-Resident Alien? All about Taxation in Texas
Even though Texas is one of the seven states that do not have an income tax, you are taxed on the federal level and therefore need to file an annual tax return. How you have to file your tax return and the amount of taxes you have to pay largely depends on your tax residency status. For tax purposes, you can be considered a “resident alien”, a “non-resident alien”, or a “dual status taxpayer”. Note that these classifications are unrelated to your visa and immigration status. In most cases, fiscal residency is granted to expats with a Green Card or those who have passed a “substantial presence test”.
If you have neither, you are considered a non-resident alien. This means that only your income from US sources will be taxed. The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) has a lot of information on international taxpayers. The Dallas County Tax Office is the place to turn to for information on taxation in Dallas specifically.
You should also take a closer look at the various articles on social security and taxation in our Extended Guide for the USA for in-depth coverage of US income tax, taxes for non-resident aliens, pension, and social security.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.