House and Senate approve bill temporarily extending the payroll tax cut

Late on December 22, House and Senate leaders agreed to end their stalemate over extending the payroll tax break. Under the agreement, for the first two months of 2012, a 4.2% Social Security tax would continue to apply to workers’ pay (10.4% OASDI tax for self-employment income). This Bill should also have an extension of the 100% bonus depreciation provisions. We will confirm once signed into law.

However, the agreement calls for new language to be inserted into the tax relief bill to prevent a potential payroll tax problem for employers. According to information provided by the House Ways & Means Committee, the revision would allow employers to withhold employee payroll taxes at 4.2% (instead of 6.2%) on all wages paid during the two-month extension period, subject only to the full 2012 wage base ($110,100) and without regard to the $18,350 cap (two-twelfths of the wage base of $110,100) on wages earned through the end of February, 2012. If an employee’s wages during the first two months of 2012 exceed $18,350, and the payroll tax reduction is not extended for the remainder of 2012, an amount equal to 2% of those excess wages would ultimately be recaptured on the worker’s individual tax return for 2012.

 Both the Senate and House approved the bill on the morning of December 23. It will now be sent to the President for his expected signature.


Under the agreement, both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House will immediately appoint negotiators to a conference to forge a full-year extension of the payroll tax reduction.


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