October 02, 2020

Van Hollen Doubles Down on Call for Trump Administration to Make Payroll Tax Deferral Optional for Military and Federal Employees

Letter follows up on Mnuchin remarks to Van Hollen that this would be “reasonable”

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought urging them once again to make the payroll tax deferral outlined by President Trump optional for federal employees and service members. The letter follows the Senator’s exchange with Secretary Mnuchin during a recent Banking Committee hearing, in which Mnuchin stated that it would be “reasonable” to allow federal employees and members of the military to choose whether or not to participate. It also follows the Senator’s previous bipartisan letter to both Mnuchin and Vought on this issue, which was signed by over 20 of his Senate colleagues. 

The text of the letter can be found here and below: 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Director Vought, 

I am writing to follow up on the letter that 22 of my colleagues and I sent on September 8, which requested that the payroll tax deferral be voluntary, instead of mandatory, for federal employees and members of the armed forces.  

On September 24, in response to my question about this issue during a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Secretary Mnuchin testified that it would be “reasonable” for the payroll tax deferral to be voluntary, “if people don't want to participate.” Secretary Mnuchin also testified that he would follow up with the Office of Management and Budget about this issue. 

Since federal agencies are currently altering paychecks on a mandatory basis to implement the deferral – regardless of whether individuals want to participate – I urge you to expedite the consideration of our request to make this voluntary as soon as possible. Our letter also asked for basic information about how the deferral will be implemented, including whether and how it will be collected from employees who separate from their job before it is recouped. Federal employees, service members, and agencies need answers to these questions as soon as possible. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.