After Congress reached an impasse on the next round of stimulus related to the ongoing pandemic, President Trump signed Executive Orders on August 8, 2020 to provide some relief to taxpayers. The Executive Orders are described briefly below. It is important to note, however, that these orders are not in effect and have been challenged from a Constitutional and legal standpoint. Until such time as their standing is confirmed, the descriptions below are informational only.
This directs the Department of Homeland Security to use its Disaster Relief Fund and directs states to use their Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations to provide financial relief to the unemployed affected by COVID-19. Of note, it provides an up-to-$400/week supplemental unemployment compensation benefit. This is a decrease from the $600 provided until the original relief ended July 31, 2020. It also makes changes to eligibility for this unemployment relief, specifically:
- An individual must receive at least $100/week in regular state unemployment compensation assistance.
- An individual must certify that his/her lost wages are attributable to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Payroll Tax Deferral
It is important to note that as signed, this is a deferral, not an elimination of the payroll tax. It includes deferral of withholding, deposit and payment of the employee portion of the Social Security (not Medicare) tax on wages/compensation paid from 9/1/2020 through 12/31/2020. It applies to wages or compensation payable during any biweekly payroll period that are generally less than $4,000, calculated on a pre-tax basis or the equivalent amount during other payroll periods (approx. $100k per year).
Deferred amounts will not incur penalties, interest or additions to tax; however, it is unclear how employees would pay the deferred amounts were the deferral period to expire without further guidance.
The Secretary of the Treasury is directed to “explore avenues, including legislation, to eliminate the obligation to pay the taxes deferred pursuant to the implementation of this memorandum.”
Allows existing loan deferrals (payments and waivers of interest) to continue on student loans held by the Department of Education until December 31, 2020.
Assistance to Renters and Homeowners
Calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Director of CDC to determine if measures halting evictions are “reasonably necessary” to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and charges the Secretaries of Treasury and Housing to identify and make available Federal funds to provide financial assistance to renters and homeowners who qualify.
Look for updates from us as progress is made on these Executive Orders and the ongoing stimulus discussion in Congress.