Senate Democrats Are Pushing to Undo The Payroll Tax Deferral


  • Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wrote to the Government Accountability Office, asking for an expedited Congressional Review Act ruling on the payroll tax holiday.
  • The lawmakers are asking the congressional watchdog to determine whether guidance on the tax holiday from the Treasury Department and IRS constitutes a rule. This is the first step in the process to overturn the tax suspension.
  • The payroll tax holiday, which defers the 6.2% tax employees pay to fund Social Security, went into effect on Sept. 1 and is effective until the end of the year.

Senate Democrats are making a last-ditch effort to reverse President Donald Trump’s payroll tax deferral.

Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., composed to the Government Responsibility Workplace, asking for that the congressional watchdog identify whether assistance released by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service on the payroll tax suspension is deemed a “rule” for the purposes of the Congressional Evaluation Act.

The act is a law that Congress can utilize to reverse rules handed down by federal agencies.

In this case, the Schumer-Wyden letter is the initial step toward reversing the payroll tax deferment that just went into effect on Sept. 1. News of the move by the 2 lawmakers was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The momentary suspension, handed down through an executive order, enables employers to postpone collection of the 6.2% tax employees pay to fund Social Security. Generally, Social Security taxes are subject to a salary cap of $137,700 in 2020.

The deferral applies to staff members whose earnings paid in a biweekly pay duration fall listed below $4,000 and it would be in effect up until the end of the year.

Employers would then keep the deferred quantity from workers’ incomes early next year. This implies employees would see a bump in pay this fall, however a reduction in spending for the very first few months of 2021.

It would need an act of Congress to forgive the tax owed, so remember that this is only a hold-up of these taxes.

“Since this guidance works starting Sept. 1, and its execution may have significant financial implications for countless hard-working American workers as early as Jan. 1, 2021, we ask that you offer an action no later on than Sept. 22, 2020,” Schumer and Wyden wrote in their Sept. 2 letter to the Government Responsibility Office.

A procedural matter

In particular, Schumer and Wyden desire the GAO to identify whether the three-page payroll tax deferral guidance the IRS provided is a guideline.

If it is certainly considered a guideline, the Congressional Review Act offers Congress the power to review the guideline and overthrow it through a joint resolution –– that is, a legislative measure that’s gone by the Home and Senate.

There’s a catch, of course.

It would require either an easy bulk in both chambers of Congress and the president’s signature or two-thirds bulk vote in both chambers if the president vetoes it, stated Garrett Watson, a senior policy expert at the Tax Foundation.

“Blocking it is not likely because it would need the support of your house and the Republican-controlled Senate to pass, and it’s anticipated the president would ban it,” he stated. “There’s an apprehension of the deferral and how it works, but it’s not likely you’ll get the level of support required to block it.”

Staying alert

While the Congressional Review Act may be a Hail Mary pass to toss out the payroll tax deferment, it’s completely possible that skittish companies may shy away from implementing the holiday in the first location.

A few of the worries on companies’ minds include the problem they deal with for delaying and paying the tax to the IRS.

They need to pay the quantity ratably –– or proportionally gradually –– between Jan. 1 and April 30, otherwise they’ll go through penalties, interest, and “additions to tax.”

Even more, there’s the matter of educating workers on the compromise: a momentary 6.2% bump to pay if the payroll tax is postponed, followed by extra withholding in early 2021 to recoup the cash.

“I question the number of employees would be expecting to receive it and do not really understand that it’s a short-term loan,” said Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “There might be confusion about how and when it will be paid back.”

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