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Tax Deferral: Fatter Paychecks in 2020, Leaner in 2021

As of June 2020, one in every six U.S. residents collected Social Security benefits, including about 348,000 Nevadans. (Silviarita/Pixabay)
As of June 2020, one in every six U.S. residents collected Social Security benefits, including about 348,000 Nevadans. (Silviarita/Pixabay)
September 10, 2020

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Many American workers will enjoy a 6.2% bump in their take-home pay for the rest of the year, but leaner paychecks are coming in 2021.

A tax deferment began Sep. 1 via executive order by President Donald Trump. It means workers don't have to pay their part of the tax that goes to fund Social Security.

Trump has promised, if re-elected, to make the tax cuts permanent, but hasn't explained how he would fund Social Security.

Andy Landis, former Social Security Administration administrator, and author of "Social Security: The Inside Story," worked at the agency for 12 years, and believes caution is in order to preserve what has proven to be one of the nation's soundest financial systems.

"I like to say that it's the one anti-poverty program that actually ends poverty," Landis said. "There's so many people that would be in poverty if Social Security was not there, or if their Social Security was cut."

Under the executive order, the Internal Revenue Service will suspend collecting Social Security payroll tax from workers who earn less than $104,000 dollars a year.

Landis believes Social Security is strong, but said it's also at a turning point, because baby boomers are retiring and collecting their funds.

A similar suspension of taxes was enacted in 2010 to boost a stagnant economy due to the Great Recession, but the legislation required the money be funneled back to the Social Security trust fund. Landis wants to see a similar promise going forward.

"There's no guarantee that it's going to be made whole by some other source, like the general fund," Landis said. "So that really worries me that you would simply cut Social Security's income when it's hungry for income because of demographics."

Landis added the effectiveness of Social Security as a safety net cannot be overstated.

"Look at the two words: it's 'social,' because we all participate in it, and it brings 'security,' because it's there even during downturns," Landis said. "During the Depression, during the '08 downturn, it's always there."

Private employers do not have to participate in the tax deferment, but it's a requirement for federal employees, including enlisted military service members.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NV