Social Security Tax

Recently released IRS Notice 2021-11, implements the extension of the period for collecting from employees and depositing employee Social Security tax that was deferred in the last four months of 2020.  IRS Notice 2020-65 (see earlier coverage) had specified that the employer “must withhold and pay the total [deferred 2020 taxes] . .

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

On October 13, the Social Security Administration announced that the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (“OASDI”) wage base will increase to $142,800 for 2021.  The 3.7% increase follows a 3.6% increase in the wage base for 2020 and a 3.5% increase for 2019.  Wages in excess of the wage base paid by an employer

On July 30, 2020, the IRS released guidance in the form of new frequently asked questions (“FAQs”)  addressing the deferral of the employer portion of Social Security taxes under section 2302 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act.  These FAQs are broad in nature, providing guidance on various considerations relevant to section 2302 of the CARES Act, including application of these rules to first calendar quarter deposits, coordination with the next-day deposit rule, and considerations for employers that use third parties to report and deposit employment taxes with the Treasury.  Covington continues to review this guidance, and has summarized in this blog post some of the provisions we consider most relevant to employers.

When reviewing this latest guidance from the IRS, employers should be mindful that although they represent the current thinking of the IRS regarding section 2302, these FAQs are  non-binding; the IRS is under no obligation to comply with these FAQs and could therefore take a different approach at any time.  As we have noted previously, the IRS has changed course with respect to FAQs issued in connection with other provisions in the CARES Act, such as the employee retention credit.
Continue Reading IRS Releases Additional FAQs on Deferral of Employment Tax Deposits Under Section 2302 of the CARES Act

Secretary Mnuchin acknowledged in an interview today that the employee Social Security tax deferral envisioned in President Trump’s Presidential Memorandum will not be mandatory.  The memorandum instructs the Treasury Department to issue guidance under Section 7508A permitting employers to suspend the withholding, depositing, and payment of the employee’s share of social security taxes (and the

Earlier today, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (“PPFA”), making certain changes to the Paycheck Protection Program enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act in March.  Section 4 of the PPFA amends Section 2302(a) of the CARES Act to delete section 2302(a)(3).  Accordingly, employers who obtain forgiveness of a Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loan may now defer all employer social security tax deposits that would otherwise be required to be deposited before January 1, 2020.
Continue Reading Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act Becomes Law; Extends Employer Social Security Tax Deferral for PPP Loan Recipients

Employers electing to defer the deposit of the employer share of Social Security taxes on wages, as permitted under section 2302 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, are challenged with how to take the deferral in conjunction with the COVID-19 payroll tax credits—the employee retention credit authorized by section 2301 of the CARES Act and, if applicable, the two payroll tax credits applicable to employers employers of 500 or fewer employees that are required to provide paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”).

The benefit of electing to defer the deposit of the employer share of Social Security taxes or claiming payroll tax credits may be realized in real time when the employer runs its payroll providing a near-immediate cash injection into the employer’s business to help defray the cost of employee wages.  In other words, the employer does not have to wait to enjoy the benefit until it files its quarterly employment tax return (Form 941).  The IRS is in the process of revising that return so that the reporting of the deferral and credits are reconciled with the payroll taxes (e.g., employer share of FICA taxes, the employee share of FICA taxes and federal income tax withholding) paid and withheld on payments made to employees during the calendar quarter.
Continue Reading A Primer for Employers: How to Stack the Employer Social Security Tax Deferral with the COVID-19 Payroll Tax Credits

UPDATE: President Trump signed the bill into law on Friday afternoon.

Earlier this afternoon, the House passed by voice vote the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, the third Coronavirus-related piece of legislation, which was passed by the Senate on Wednesday with a 96-0 vote.  At $2 trillion, the CARES Act is the largest stimulus package in U.S. history and is headed to the White House for President Trump’s signature later today.

In our previous article, we provided a Client Alert summarizing the tax-related provisions in the CARES Act.  Our next two articles will highlight two provisions available to qualifying employers as they navigate this challenging time.  Today, we focus on Section 2302, which permits employers to defer deposits of the employer share of social security taxes. Given that it is a near certainty that the President will sign the Act before Monday, employers may seek to cancel payroll tax deposits initiated for wages paid today and initiate a same-day wire transfer deposit on Monday of the payroll deposits less employer social security tax. The deferral provision applies only to the employer’s share of social security tax.  It does not apply to the employer’s Medicare taxes nor to the employee’s share of social security or Medicare taxes.
Continue Reading CARES Act Enacted; Employers May Defer Some Payroll Tax Deposits Due on Monday