Meetings underway on payroll tax cut extension

Published on: 02/06/2012 By: Gorfine, Schiller & Gardyn

Last December, the 4.2% social security tax rate that workers pay on wages was extended through February 29, 2012.

Now a Congressional conference is being held to find a way to extend the lower tax rate through the end of 2012. The sticking point is lack of agreement between Republicans and Democrats on how to pay for the extension, estimated to cost $100 billion.

House Democrats have expressed the hope that the conference will be completed by the Presidents’ Day recess scheduled for the week of February 20. The legislation would extend the current 4.2% payroll tax rate through December 31, extend unemployment insurance benefits, and prevent cuts in reimbursements to Medicare providers.

Several legislators want to include tax extenders in the payroll tax cut legislation. These “extenders” include such provisions as the research and development credit for businesses, the optional deduction for state and local sales taxes, and the $250 deduction for school supplies purchased by teachers. Though these tax breaks appear to be universally popular, finding a way to pay for them remains the big issue.

 As you do your 2012 tax planning, keep the uncertain legislative picture in mind.