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IRS guidelines put employers on the hook for Trump’s payroll tax break


U.S. President Donald Trump reacts at the Republican Nationwide Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 24, 2020.

David T. Foster | Pool | Reuters

The IRS issued long-awaited steerage on President Donald Trump’s payroll tax deferral Friday evening. And it seems to put the onus on employers to gather any taxes due after the vacation ends.

The president signed an government order on Aug. eight calling for a deferral of the workers’ portion of the payroll tax from Sept. 1 by means of the finish of the 12 months.

Presently, employers and workers share accountability for a 12.4% levy that funds Social Safety and a 2.9% tax to assist Medicare.

Social Safety taxes are topic to an yearly adjusted wage cap ($137,700 for 2020), however Medicare taxes are assessed past that threshold.

The government order applies particularly to the Social Safety tax and would have an effect on employees whose bi-weekly pay is lower than $4,000 on a pretax foundation.

The three-page discover the IRS issued on Friday postpones the due date for these taxes till April 30, 2021. After that date, penalties, curiosity and “additions to tax” will start to accrue.

Employers – dubbed the “affected taxpayers” in the steerage – “could make preparations to in any other case accumulate the complete relevant taxes from the worker,” the IRS mentioned in its steerage on Friday.

Since there isn’t any assure that the worker’s share of deferred taxes shall be forgiven, employers could not need that accountability, tax professionals mentioned.

“To me, this says you are telling the employer to not withhold the money, put themselves on the hook after which make ‘some association’ to get the money again – or belief us that we’ll go and forgive it for you,” mentioned Adam Markowitz, enrolled agent at Howard L Markowitz PA CPA in Leesburg, Florida.

“I had warned my employer purchasers that this could be a ‘laborious no,'” he mentioned.

Threat-averse employers

Employers are typically accountable for withholding and depositing the payroll tax.

If the employer does not withhold workers’ share of taxes and the IRS cannot accumulate them, then the employee is on the hook for the tax.

Previous to the launch of the steerage, business teams raised issues that workers may very well be left owing the deferred taxes subsequent 12 months in the event that they get the further money of their paycheck.

For example, a employee incomes $50,000 per 12 months would be capable to pocket $119 per paycheck if Social Safety taxes had been deferred – a complete of $1,073 over 9 pay intervals, in response to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Nonetheless, all of that money can be attributable to the IRS in 2021.

“If this had been a suspension of the payroll tax in order that workers weren’t compelled to pay it again later, implementation can be much less difficult,” wrote the U.S Chamber of Commerce in an Aug. 18 letter to Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The brand new steerage from the IRS raises additional questions on how the taxman will in the end get its share of deferred payroll taxes – and the steps employers must take to “make preparations” with employees to gather the money.

“What if the employer hangs onto the taxes in a checking account and the worker leaves? What will we do with the money?” requested Dan Herron, CPA and principal of Elemental Wealth Advisors in San Luis Obispo, California.

“Can we give the money to the worker and inform them to determine how you can report it on their Kind 1040?” he requested. “It is a compliance nightmare.”

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