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Publication 505

Sick Pay(p13)

Sick pay is a payment to you to replace your regular wages while you are temporarily absent from work due to sickness or personal injury. To qualify as sick pay, it must be paid under a plan to which your employer is a party.
If you receive sick pay from your employer or an agent of your employer, income tax must be withheld. An agent who does not pay regular wages to you may choose to withhold income tax at a flat rate.
However, if you receive sick pay from a third party who is not acting as an agent of your employer, income tax will be withheld only if you choose to have it withheld. See Form W-4S, later.
If you receive payments under a plan in which your employer does not participate (such as an accident or health plan where you paid all the premiums), the payments are not sick pay and usually are not taxable.

Union agreements.(p13)

If you receive sick pay under a collective bargaining agreement between your union and your employer, the agreement may determine the amount of income tax withholding. See your union representative or your employer for more information.

Form W-4S.(p13)

If you choose to have income tax withheld from sick pay paid by a third party, such as an insurance company, you must fill out Form W-4S. Its instructions contain a worksheet you can use to figure the amount you want withheld. They also explain restrictions that may apply.
Give the completed form to the payer of your sick pay. The payer must withhold according to your directions on the form.
Form W-4S remains in effect until you change or cancel it, or stop receiving payments. You can change your withholding by giving a new Form W-4S or a written notice to the payer of your sick pay.

Estimated tax.(p13)

If you do not request withholding on Form W-4S, or if you do not have enough tax withheld, you may have to pay estimated tax. If you do not pay enough tax, either through estimated tax or withholding, or a combination of both, you may have to pay a penalty. See chapter 2 and chapter 4.