2020 Payroll Tax and Withholdings Update

In 2020, there are several updates to various payroll tax withholding limits, including Social Security tax and 401(k) elective deferrals. For employees, minimum wage is increasing in Missouri and Illinois. Below we highlight any payroll tax and withholding updates or consistencies for 2020 that employers and employees should be aware of.

Social Security Tax Withholding

For 2020, the Social Security tax wage base for employees will increase to $137,700. The Social Security tax rate for employees and employers remains unchanged at 6.2%. The combined Social Security and Medicare tax rate for employees and employers remains unchanged at 7.65%. Medicare tax will also apply to all wages in excess of $137,700 and will be imposed at a rate of 1.45% for both employees and employers.

The earnings base for self-employment tax will increase to $137,700 with an effective rate of 15.3%. Medicare tax will also apply to all self-employment income in excess of $137,700 at an effective rate of 2.9%. No self-employment tax is payable if annual net earnings are less than $400.

Additional Medicare Tax Withholding

All wages currently subject to Medicare tax are subject to an additional 0.9% Medicare tax withholding when wages exceed $200,000. There is no employer share of additional Medicare tax.

Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

For 2020, the maximum taxable wage base remains unchanged at the first $7,000 of wages. The tax rate will remain at 6% with the credit for payment of state unemployment tax remaining at 5.4%. This results in the effective rate remaining at 0.6%.

State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)

The taxable wage base for Missouri will decrease to $11,500 in 2020 and Illinois will change to $12,740. Each state will issue your new contribution rate, effective January 1, 2020 based on your employment history. If advantageous, Missouri permits a voluntary payment to reduce the rate as long as the payment is received by January 15, 2020.

Both states require employers, who no longer have unemployment tax liability, to formally close their unemployment accounts. Severe penalties accrue if quarterly reports are not filed and accounts are not formally closed – even if no unemployment tax liability exists.

Information Returns

Failure to file accurate and timely 1099 forms continues to carry severe penalties of $50 to $270 per 1099. The penalty for intentional disregard of filing requirements is at least $540 per information return with no maximum penalty. Accordingly, we are reminding you of the filing requirements for payments made during 2019.

Among other requirements, an entity must report on Form 1099 payments of $600 or more to non-corporate “service providers”. This includes rent, fees, commissions, prizes, awards or any other form of remuneration paid to non-employees. An example would be a consultant who is not incorporated. Payments made for legal services must be reported even if the payment is made to the attorney’s professional corporation. Any dividend or interest payment to a non-corporation of $10.00 or more must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the recipient.

The 2019 Form 1099 must be given to the recipient and sent to the IRS, using either paper or electronic filing procedures, by January 31, 2020, when you are reporting non-employee compensation payments in box 7. For payments other than box 7 non-employee compensation, the due dates to the IRS are February 28, 2020, if you file on paper or March 31, 2020, if you file electronically, but the due date to the recipient remains January 31st.

Taxpayers are asked to certify the filing of Form 1099 in conjunction with filing their annual income tax returns.

Minimum Wage

The Missouri minimum wage will increase to $9.45 per hour on January 1, 2020.

The Illinois minimum wage will increase to $9.25 per hour on January 1, 2020 and $10.00 on July 1, 2020.

Employees under the age of 20 can continue to be paid $4.25 per hour during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer, except where a higher state or local minimum wage standard applies. Employers of “tipped employees” must comply with minimum wage laws, but can claim a tip credit against their minimum wage obligation.

Form W-4

A Form W-4 on which an employee claims exemption from withholding legally expires February 15th of the year after it is filed. Remind employees who claimed exemption from withholding on their 2019 Form W-4, the exemption expires and they will need to file a new 2020 Form W-4 on or before February 15, 2020. Form W-4 is available at https://www.irs.gov. Forms W-4 must be available for inspection by an IRS employee if requested.  Employers may receive requests from the IRS requiring submission of a copy of Form W-4 for one or more employees.

Missouri Form W-4

Form MO W-4 allows employees to claim the same allowances as on the Federal Form W-4. Employees should review the Form MO W-4 to ensure correct withholdings. The employer must send a copy of Form MO W-4 to the Department of Revenue within 20 days after any NEW employee completes the form. This information is being used to enforce the state’s child support laws. The forms are available at http://dor.mo.gov/forms/.

Unsubstantiated Business Expenses or Advances

An employee is required to substantiate expenses to an employer under an accountable plan and any amount exceeding the amount substantiated must be returned to the employer.

Unsubstantiated amounts must be reported as Form W-2 (and FICA) income. In a non-accountable plan, all expense payments to employees are treated as wages.

Tax Deposits

The IRS has two deposit schedules—monthly and semi-weekly—for determining when to deposit Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld federal income tax. The required schedule is determined by the employer’s tax liability during a “look-back” period (July 1 to June 30 of the previous year). Employers with less than $50,000 of deposit liability during the “look- back” period are assigned a monthly schedule and will be required to make a deposit on or before the 15th of the following month.

Employers who report $50,000 or more in total employment tax liability during the “look-back” period will be designated as semi-weekly depositors. For semi-weekly depositors, the due date depends on when wages are paid. For paydays on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, the deposit is due on or before the following Wednesday. For paydays on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, the deposit is due on or before the following Friday.

Accumulated federal withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes of $100,000 or more in one single day must be deposited the next business day, whether you are a monthly or semi-weekly schedule depositor. If you are a monthly schedule depositor and accumulate a $100,000 tax liability on any day, you become a semi-weekly schedule depositor on the next day and remain so for the rest of the calendar year and for the following calendar year.

Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)

Employers must make deposits electronically. If your required tax deposits are not made via EFTPS, a penalty of 10% of the taxes deposited will be incurred. The IRS has begun enforcing penalties for non-compliance. If you have not enrolled in the EFTPS program, please contact us immediately.

Social Security Benefits

You can continue to earn income while receiving full Social Security retirement benefits, provided your earnings do not exceed certain limitations. The 2020 yearly earnings ceiling for individuals who have not reached normal retirement age will increase to $18,240. Benefits of $1.00 will be lost for every $2.00 earned in excess of the ceiling.

For recipients who reach normal retirement age in 2020, the earnings limit is $48,600 until the month the individual reaches normal retirement age. Benefits of $1.00 will be lost for every $3.00 earned in excess of the ceiling. Once you reach normal retirement age, you can collect full benefits, regardless of the amount of your earnings.

Standard Mileage Rate

The standard mileage rate for 2020 will be 57.5 cents per mile for business travel. The 2020 rate for medical travel and moving costs will be 17 cents per mile. The charitable mileage rate will remain at 14 cents per mile.

Earned Income Credit

Each employer is required to notify any employee who has not had income tax withheld from wages and who has not claimed to be exempt from withholding that they may be eligible for the earned income credit. The notice must be given by hand or delivered by first class mail within a week, before or after the Form W-2 is furnished, or included with the Form W-2. The notification must contain all information described in Notice 797 from the IRS.

Pension Distribution Withholding Rules

If an employee does not elect a direct rollover (a trustee to trustee transfer), the employer must withhold federal income tax from the distribution at a 20% rate. The withholding is required even if the employee executes the rollover personally. The rules contain some exceptions to the general rule stated above. Please contact us to discuss these rules in greater detail if a pension distribution is forthcoming.

Nanny Tax Threshold

The 2020 annual earnings threshold above which an employer is required to pay FICA taxes and issue Form W-2 to domestic workers will be $2,200. Form W-2 may not be issued to a household employee below this threshold amount, however, the wages are subject to federal unemployment tax when more than $1,000 is paid to all household employees in any quarter of the year or the previous year.

Employers may have to satisfy their personal tax obligations by either increasing wage withholding or making estimated tax payments to prevent the application of underpayment penalties.

401(k) Elective Deferral Limits, SEP and SIMPLE Plan Thresholds

The limitation on 401(k) elective deferrals in 2020 will increase to $19,500. The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in the 401(k) will increase to $6,500.

The compensation an eligible employee must have to be a SEP participant remains unchanged at $600. With a SEP IRA, an employer can contribute up to 25% of an employee’s gross annual salary or $57,000, whichever is less, in 2020; increase of a limit of $56,000 in 2019.

The maximum employee salary reduction contribution to a SIMPLE plan will increase to $13,500 in 2020. The catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over who participate in the SIMPLE plan remains unchanged at $3,000.

New-Hire Reporting Program for Missouri and Illinois

All employers must report information about any new employee to the appropriate state agency within 20 days of their date of hire. (This is a federal regulation, and states may establish more stringent reporting requirements). The new-hire reporting regulations were enacted to help state agencies enforce child support orders.

Your new-hire reports must contain the employee’s name, address, and Social Security number as well as your company’s name, address, and federal identification number. To comply, you can file a Form W-4 or an equivalent form. In Missouri, the penalty for non-compliance is $25, or if the failure is the result of a conspiracy between the employer and the employee, the fine will be $350. In Illinois, the penalty for non-compliance is $15.

You can mail new hire reports on paper, or on magnetic media, report by fax, or file online. For personnel employed in multiple states, you may choose one state where you have employees and report all new hires in that state.

Contact an Anders advisor with any questions on how these amounts affect you.