Trump left $ 7 million in mess after delaying payroll taxes for census workers

The US Census Bureau was left with an accounting mess of $ 7 million after the administration of former President Donald Trump ordered the federal agency to suspend payroll taxes last year for some employees, including Included many temporary workers from the 2020 census, NPR has learned.

The office was one of several federal agencies tasked with stopping collecting some employees’ share of a payroll tax that helps fund the social security system in the final months of 2020. The deferral applied to workers earning less than $ 4,000 before taxes per pay period.

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

Trump has touted the push as a way to get “bigger paychecks for working families” during the coronavirus pandemic. The former administration had said it would try to convince Congress to cancel payroll taxes. But without any movement from lawmakers, the extra money essentially became a temporary loan that workers eventually had to pay back.

And it created an accounting challenge for the office, which temporarily employed hundreds of thousands of workers for last year’s national count.

Difficulty reaching former workers has led the office to defer the collection of some of these social security taxes.

“We determined that 147,619 employees owed much less than it would cost to collect the debt from them,” said the office, which did not respond to questions from NPR on the total amount of money. that the office has decided to stop trying to collect and how it is covering these costs.

The office says it has sent letters and emails to about 28,000 former enumerators who owe unpaid taxes.

“It’s a little shocking to see this email from the Census Bureau so long after the fact,” says Alex Almeida of Phoenix, who received notices in September, nearly a year after finishing his job as a clerk in a local census office in November 2020. “It was very upsetting in a way, like it was the thanks we get for all of our efforts.”

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

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