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Businesses Now Have the Option to Defer Payment of Certain Payroll Taxes

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides virtually all employers the option to defer the employer contribution of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (“FICA”) taxes. Typically, the employer must remit its share (6.2%) of Social Security taxes for each employee’s covered wages on a semi-weekly or monthly basis.

However, the employer payroll tax deferral found in the CARES Act allows employers to defer these taxes incurred between March 27, 2020 (date of enactment) and December 31, 2020. Employers can defer their 6.2% share of the Social Security tax which are owed on each employee’s covered wages for the rest of 2020.

There is no special paperwork or election which needs to be filed in order to start this tax deferral. The decision to defer is completely optional. Each business must make its own determination on whether to defer, or not defer, the payment of these taxes.

Keep in mind, that while payment of the taxes may be put off, they are still owed and have to be paid. 50% of any deferred employer Social Security taxes from 2020 will be due by December 31, 2021. The remaining 50% will be due by December 31, 2022. Any business unable to make the necessary payment by those dates will be subject to interest and late payment fines or penalties. In most cases, these would more than offset any benefits gained by choosing to defer the tax payments initially.

Businesses receiving a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program remain eligible to defer. However, once all or part of the PPP loan is forgiven, that business is no longer eligible to continue deferring the payment of employer Social Security taxes. Any employer Social Security taxes which had been deferred prior to loan forgiveness continue to be eligible for deferral without exposure to late payment or late deposit penalties. These deferred taxes will need to be paid by the due dates of December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2022.

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