The IRS has released guidance on its website for employers and employees regarding deferral of employee Social Security tax under Notice 2020-65, I.R.B. 2020-38, 567.
In August, the IRS issued Notice 2020-65 in response to a Presidential Memorandum that allowed deferral of the withholding, deposit, and payment of certain employee payroll tax obligations. The Notice allows employers the option to defer the employee portion of Social Security tax from September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, for eligible employees who earn less than $4,000 per bi-weekly pay period (or the equivalent threshold amount with respect to other pay periods) on a pay period-by-pay period basis.
To pay the deferred amount, an employer that chooses deferral will ratably withhold the amount of deferred tax from the employees’ paychecks from January 1, 2021, through April 30, 2021.
The guidance provides the following instructions to employers that deferred the employee portion of Social Security tax under Notice 2020-65:
When reporting total Social Security wages paid to an employee on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, the employer should include any wages for which it deferred withholding and payment of employee Social Security tax in box 3 (Social security wages) and/or box 7 (Social security tips). The employer should not include in Box 4 (Social security tax withheld) any amount of deferred tax that has not been withheld.
Employee Social Security tax deferred in 2020 that is withheld in 2021 and not reported on the 2020 Form W-2 should be reported in box 4 (Social security tax withheld) on Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement. On Form W-2c, the employer should enter tax year 2020 in box c and adjust the amount previously reported in box 4 (Social security tax withheld) of the Form W-2 to include the deferred amounts that were withheld in 2021. The employer should file all Forms W-2c with the Social Security Administration (along with Form W-3c, Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statements) as soon as possible after the employer has finished withholding the deferred amounts. The employer should also furnish Forms W-2c to employees. (More information on completing and filing Forms W-2c and W-3c will be published in the 2021 General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3, in January 2021.)
There is similar guidance for employers that deferred withholding and payment of the employee Social Security tax equivalent of Tier 1 Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) tax.
There is also guidance for employees whose employers deferred the employee portion of Social Security tax (or the RRTA equivalent tax) under Notice 2020-65:
If an employee had only one employer during 2020 and his or her Form W-2c for 2020 only shows a correction to box 4 (or to box 14 for employees who pay RRTA tax) to account for the tax that was deferred in 2020 and withheld in 2021, no further steps are required.
If an employee had two or more employers in 2020 and the Form W-2c for 2020 shows a correction to box 4 (or to box 14 for employees who pay RRTA tax) to account for the tax that was deferred in 2020 and withheld in 2021, the employee should use the amount of Social Security (or Tier 1 RRTA) tax withheld reported on the Form W-2c to determine whether he or she had excess Social Security tax (or Tier 1 RRTA tax) on wages (or compensation) paid in 2020.
If the corrected amount in box 4 of the Form W-2c for 2020 causes the total amount of employee Social Security tax (or equivalent portion of the Tier 1 RRTA tax) withheld by all of the employee’s employers to exceed the maximum amount of tax owed ($8,537.40 for 2020), or increases an already existing excess amount of employee Social Security tax (or Tier 1 RRTA tax) withheld, the employee should file Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to claim a credit for the excess tax withheld.
Additional information can be found here.