For employers who decided to defer the employee share of Social Security taxes on wages paid from September 1 to December 31, 2020, pursuant to President Trump’s August 8 presidential memorandum, the employer’s obligation to collect those deferred amounts from employees’ paychecks is fast approaching.  Included among our previous posts discussing the deferral, which was voluntary, is a discussion of IRS Notice 2020-65.  The notice specifies that the employer “must withhold and pay the total [deferred 2020 taxes] . . . ratably from wages . . . paid between January 1, 2021, and April 30, 2021” and further warns that “if necessary, the [employer] may make arrangements to otherwise collect the total [deferred taxes] from the employee.”  (See earlier coverage.)
Continue Reading Unpleasant Surprise May Await Employers That Deferred Employee Social Security Tax

On Friday, October 30, the IRS provided guidance regarding the proper reporting on Form W-2 for employers who deferred the withholding of the employee share of Social Security tax under Notice 2020-65. (See earlier coverage.)  Based on the IRS guidance, employers should report FICA wages up to the OASDI (Social Security) wage base in Box 3 of the 2020 Form W-2.  Only the amount of Social Security tax actually withheld during 2020 should be reported in Box 4 of the form.

In 2021, if the employer withholds the 2020 deferred Social Security taxes, the employer must file a Form W-2c for 2020 reporting the additional withholding in Box 4.  Although the IRS guidance does not address this, if the employer pays in 2021 the employee’s share of Social Security taxes that were deferred in 2020, the employer must still file a Form W-2c reporting the amount as withheld Social Security taxes in Box 4.  Moreover, the employer would also be required to include the amount of taxes paid by the employer on the employee’s behalf as additional wages in Boxes 1, 3 (up to the OASDI wage base), and 5 on the employee’s 2021 Form W-2.  Because the employer’s payment of the employee’s deferred tax constitutes additional wages to the employee in 2021, these amounts will need to be grossed up to account for employment taxes on the amount of the employee’s tax paid by the employer if those taxes are not withheld from the employee’s other 2021 wages.
Continue Reading IRS Provides Guidance on Preparation of Forms W-2 for Employees with Deferred Social Security Tax Withholding

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) mandates employers of fewer than 500 employees provide two types of paid leave and includes two employer social security tax credits equal to the amount of paid leave that the employer is required to provide to employees related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  (See earlier coverage.)   Yesterday, in Notice 2020-54, the IRS announced that employers will have to report wages paid for leave mandated under the FFCRA either on Forms W-2 or on a separate statement.  The rules are intended to enable employees who also have self-employment income to properly determine the amount of any Self-Employment Contributions Act (“SECA”) tax credits to which they are entitled under the FFCRA.

Continue Reading Notice 2020-54 Requires Reporting of Qualified Sick Leave Wages and Qualified Family Leave Wages Under FFCRA

Yesterday, the IRS released final regulations that aim to prevent identity theft by permitting, but not requiring, employers to truncate the taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) on copies of Forms W-2 and Forms W-2c furnished to employees.  The regulations finalize proposed rules issued in 2017.  Generally, this rule applies to Forms W-2 required to be filed or furnished after December 31, 2020, so employers still have time to decide whether to implement the change.  The delayed effective date is intended to allow states and local governments time to update their rules to permit the use of truncated TINs, if they do not already do so.

The TIN for most individuals (and all employees whose income is required to be reported on Form W-2) is his or her social security number (SSN); therefore, instead of including an individual’s full nine-digit SSN, the final rule permits employers to truncate this sensitive personal identifying information.  In place of the full SSN, employers may use a truncated TIN, which is in the format of XXX-XX-#### or ***-**-#### with the #’s replaced by the final four digits of the employee’s social security number.  Full TINs are still required on copies of Form W-2 filed with the Social Security Administration, however.  In addition, payers of third-party sick pay must include full TINs on statements to employers of employees to whom the third-party paid sick pay.  However, truncated TINs may be used on Forms W-2 that report third-party sick pay issued by employers to employees.


Continue Reading New Rule Permits Employers to Include Truncated TINs on Forms W-2 and Forms W-2c

On May 31, the IRS released a legal memorandum, ILM 201922026, regarding the information return obligations of a common law employer when it appoints a pay agent in the middle of a calendar year.  In general, an employer may appoint a pay agent under section 3504 by using IRS Form 2678 (Employer/Payer Appointment of Agent) to appoint an agent.  An agent includes a fiduciary, agent, or other person (collectively an “agent”) that has control, receipt, custody, disposal, or otherwise pays the wages of an employee or group of employees, employed by one or more employers.  An agent is appointed to perform certain specified acts required by employers.
Continue Reading IRS Legal Memo Addresses Payroll Compliance when Employer Appoints Agent in the Middle of Calendar Year

On March 5, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland determined that an employee was potentially entitled to relief under section 7434(a) of the Internal Revenue Code when an employer purposefully reports a portion of their wages on Form 1099-MISC as income from self-employment rather than on the Form W-2.  In Greenwald v. Regency Mgmt. Svcs., LLC, a memorandum opinion, the court allowed the case to proceed to discovery based on the plaintiffs allegations.

The plaintiffs in the case are former employees who were employed as commissioned sales associates.  The plaintiffs did not allege that any hourly wages were reported or withheld upon improperly during the course of their employment, but instead alleged that the defendants failed to withhold on and reported post-termination commission payments on Forms 1099-MISC rather than Forms W-2, forcing the plaintiffs to pay SECA tax.  The plaintiffs alleged that willfully reporting the post-termination commission payments on Form 1099-MISC entitled them to damages under section 7434(a), as well as other claims under state law.


Continue Reading Federal Court Allows Claim to Proceed Against Employer for Fraudulent W-2s