How Does the Payroll Tax Deferral Program Affect Your Contracting Business?

Payroll taxes are one thing that you’ll need to pay as part of your contracting business. As of September 1st, the federal government gave businesses the option to decline withholding these taxes from employee paychecks, as long as they meet certain requirements. There are benefits to this program, but also possible drawbacks. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are Payroll Taxes?
Payroll taxes are a percentage of an employees’ wages that must be withheld. These taxes come on top of withholding for federal or state income taxes. The payroll tax, which runs 6.2% of most employees’ wages, helps to pay for programs like Social Security. Employers are required by law to withhold it from their employees’ wages. People who are self-employed must pay these taxes either as part of their quarterly estimated taxes, or at the end of the year.

What Is the Payroll Tax Deferral Program?
The payroll tax deferral program issued by President Trump’s executive order in August defers payment of these taxes from September 1 through December 31, 2020. The program functions entirely on a voluntary basis. This means that employers must opt in by holding off on withholding these taxes from employees’ paychecks. It’s worth noting that this program is unique from other payroll tax holidays that have been enacted in the past. Unlike those times, this program is a deferral. In other words, any employer that chooses to participate in this program will need to withhold more taxes from employees’ wages to make up for it by April 30, 2021.

How Can the Program Affect Businesses?
Since the execution of the payroll tax deferral program comes primarily through executive order, some businesses aren’t clear on how they should use it. Employers aren’t required to take advantage of the program, but they also aren’t required to get employees’ support in order to implement it. Many businesses have chosen to participate in the program, in the hopes of ensuring a slightly higher wage for employees during difficult times. Other businesses have decided that the complication of determining eligibility, which may fluctuate for employees with variable income, makes the program too difficult to be worthwhile.

How Can the Tax Deferral Affect Individuals?
For those who qualify for the payroll tax deferral, a 6% temporary increase in paychecks could be a significant benefit. The program is limited to individuals making less than $4,000 every two weeks. This covers the vast majority of workers across the country. Employees should consider how paying it back may affect their paychecks in the first part of 2021. The federal government has made businesses that opt into the program responsible for withholding the additional taxes to cover for the deferral. This may mean that they have to enact new policies for employees who quit, to ensure that those taxes are repaid.

Could the Tax Deferral Program Change?
Given that the program came about through executive order, it’s possible that there may be additional legislation to support it, extend it or make it a true tax holiday. People who don’t pay much attention to the changes in tax laws may not know how common it is for a policy to be extended or changed right before it expires. If the government chooses to, the tax deferral could become a holiday that doesn’t need to be paid back. However, employees should pay attention to the news, and be wary of assuming anything will happen until it’s written into the law.

Figuring out taxes is something that you’ll do as an individual and a business owner. With the latest information, you’ll make wiser choices. For expert exam preparation on your way to becoming a licensed contractor, contact CSLS today!

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