December 03, 2020

Van Hollen Slams Republican Refusal to Make Payroll Tax Deferral Optional

Military Members, Federal Employees are Currently Mandated to Participate

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement after Republicans blocked his attempt to pass his bipartisan, bicameral legislation to let employees – including members of the military and federal workers – choose whether or not to participate in President Trump’s payroll tax deferral. Senator Van Hollen’s legislation, the Preventing Employees from Surprise Taxes Act, was introduced in October and would make the payroll tax deferral outlined by President Trump optional for any worker whose employer chooses to participate.

“Today Senate Republicans chose to aid and abet President Trump in his payroll tax scheme. They once again put the personal whims and interests of this President over the American people – and are allowing our military members and federal employees to be used as a pawn in their game. Their refusal to make the payroll tax deferral voluntary – especially when the Republican Senate leadership has declined to subject its own staff to this requirement – reeks of hypocrisy and political cowardice at the expense of our troops and federal employees.”  

Further Background:

In addition to introducing this legislation, Senator Van Hollen has repeatedly pressed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought on this issue. During a recent Banking Committee hearing, in response to questioning from Senator Van Hollen, Mnuchin stated that it would be “reasonable” to allow federal employees and members of the military to choose whether or not to participateIn a letter sent on October 2, the Senator followed up with Mnuchin and Vought on these remarks. Senator Van Hollen also previously led a bipartisan letter, signed by over 20 Senators, to both Mnuchin and Vought in early September.

In the Senate, this legislation is cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

In the House, the legislation is led by Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and cosponsored by Representatives Don Beyer (D-Va.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), and Jim Costa (D-Calif.).  

The legislation is supported by a number of organizations, including: the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the National Federation of Federal Employees, the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, the Senior Executives Association, the Federal Managers Association, the Professional Managers Association, National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, United Power Trades Organization, Antilles Consolidated Education Association, National Weather Service Employees Organization, Patent Office Professional Association, National Association of Government Employees, National Education Association, Social Security Works, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Americans for Tax Fairness, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. Statements of support from many of these organizations can be found here