Trump’s postponement of payroll tax for census workers costs taxpayers: NPR

After former President Donald Trump signed a presidential memo in August 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau was asked to stop collecting payroll taxes from certain employees in the final months of last year. The agency is now trying to get some former temps to pay what they owe.

Susan Walsh / AP


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Susan Walsh / AP


After former President Donald Trump signed a presidential memo in August 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau was asked to stop collecting payroll taxes from certain employees in the final months of last year. The agency is now trying to get some former temps to pay what they owe.

Susan Walsh / AP

The U.S. Census Bureau has been stuck with a $ 7 million accounting mess after former President Donald Trump’s administration ordered the federal agency to suspend payroll taxes last year for certain employees, including many temporary 2020 census workers, NPR has learned.

The agency was one of many federal agencies instructed to stop collect some employees’ share of a payroll tax that helps fund the social security system in the last months of 2020. The deferral applied to workers earning less than $ 4,000 before tax each pay period.

“A total of $ 7,078,909 in payroll tax was deferred for 177,964 temporary employees,” the agency confirmed to NPR in a statement.

Trump exclaimed the push as a way to get “bigger paychecks for working families” during the coronavirus pandemic. The previous administration had said it would try to convince Congress to forgive the payroll taxes. But without any movement from the legislators, the extra money essentially became a temporary loan that the workers had to pay back in the end.

And it has created an accounting challenge for the agency, which temporarily employed hundreds of thousands of workers to last year’s national staff.

Difficulties in reaching out to former workers have led the agency to postpone the collection of some of these social security taxes.

“We determined that 147,619 employees owed significantly less than what it would cost to recover the debt from them,” said the agency, which did not answer NPR’s question about the total amount the agency has decided to stop trying to recover and how it is. cover these costs.

The agency says it has sent letters and emails to about 28,000 former census workers who owe unpaid taxes.

“It’s something of a shock to see that email from the Census Bureau just as long after,” said Alex Almeida of Phoenix, who received notices in September, close to a year after finishing an office job at a local census office in November 2020 “It was very outrageous in a way that this is the thank you we get for all our efforts.”

The deadline for paying the deferred tax is the end of this year, according to the IRS.

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