Saturday, December 17, 2011
Status of the Payroll Tax Cut
The Senate today approved a two-month extension of the employee Social Security tax cut.
You will recall that the employee FICA rate was cut from 7.65 to 5.65 percent, but only for 2011. The FICA tax is composed of two parts: a social security tax of 6.2 percent and a Medicare tax of 1.45 percent. Together they add-up to 7.65 percent and are referred to as FICA. The social security portion was reduced in 2011 by 2 points – from 6.2 to 4.2 percent. It is this portion that we are discussing.
A number of economic and financial commentators have pointed out that 2011 economic growth has been roughly equivalent to this payroll tax cut. Add to the mix an upcoming election year and the issue of extending the cut has become quite electric.
The bill will next go to the House, where there has been some activism to cut the tax for all of 2012, not just two months.
The President has indicated his intention to sign the bill when it arrives.
Payroll is reported to the IRS on a quarterly basis. The first quarter is January through March. Accountants and payroll services now have to subdivide the quarter to determine which tax rate to apply to the payroll. Would it have been that difficult - especially since nothing has been accomplished anyway – to have the payroll tax cut run the full quarter?