County to eschew ’tax holiday’

Chad Frey
The Kansan

This month, along with October, November and December, are a “tax holiday” by executive order of President Donald Trump.

What that means is employers can be defer withholding FICA taxes, otherwise known as Social Security, taxes from the paychecks of employees.

It is up to employers if they wish to participate in the holiday that could mean a few extra dollars in cash for employees over the next few months.

Harvey County, as an employer, chose Tuesday to not participate and to continue witholding FICA taxes from employee paychecks.

According to Anthony Swartzendruber, county administrator, there are three reasons the county is choosing to continue the withholding — two tied to how the tax deferment works and one tied to the county payroll system.

Swartzendruber said employees would be on the hook for the deferred taxes later, and if an employee quits or retires during the next three months those deferred taxes can become a problem for their employer.

“If someone quits or retires during this time period, the county becomes solely responsible for paying that,” Swartzendruber.

The county is not alone in not participating.

“We are on multiple listserves for finance and adminstrators. I have not found a government yet that is opting into this,” Swartzendruber said.

In August, Trump rolled out a four-month payroll tax holiday that would last from September through December, an effort to provide financial relief during the COIVD-19 pandemic.

“It sounds great until you read the details,” said commissioner Chip Westfall.

The Social Security portion of the tax is 12.4% of payroll, split equally between workers and employers, or paid fully by the self-employed. The money goes into the program’s Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund.

The tax holiday covers only the worker portion of 6.2%

And, workers may have to pay that 6.2% later.

“It is only a deferral,” Swartzendruber said. “Employees receive a benefit now, but they would pay twice the amount next year.”

Starting in January workers would need to begin paying 12.4% if there is no action by congress or the president to forgive the unpaid taxes from 2020.

In other business, the county:

• Named Randy Hague as a voting delegate for an upcoming K-Work meeting. County Clerk Rick Piepho was named voting alternate.

• Discussed the intersection of U.S. 50 and Cow Palace Road west of Newton. Cow Palace Road is on a list for improvement by the county road and bridge department, and the department is seeking a partnership with the Kansas Department of Education for the project.

• Approved moving forward with a grant application for an overdose prevention program by the Harvey County Health Department.

• Adopted the 2022 Healthy Harvey Rewards Program for county employees.

• Approved a grant application to the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services by the Harvey County Department on Aging.

• Learned that grant funds could be available for an outdoor warning siren at East Lake and West Lake. The project would by 75% funded by federal funds, with the county needing to pay the remainder.