What a payroll tax cut would actually mean for your wallet

President Donald Trump has considered new payroll tax cuts to let American workers take home bigger pay checks.

But such a move could have negative consequences for both individuals and the economy, a number of experts warn.

The president told reporters on Tuesday that he is “thinking about” cutting payroll taxes. The move, however, would have nothing to do with talk of a looming downturn, he said.

“Payroll tax is something we think about, and a lot of people would like to see that, and that very much affects the workers of our country,” Trump said.

On Wednesday, however, the president said the economy is still too strong to warrant such a move.

How payroll taxes work

Payroll taxes are withheld from workers’ wages and are used to fund government programs, notably Social Security and Medicare.

For Social Security, employee wages are currently subject to a 6.2% tax up to $132,900. Workers also pay a Medicare tax of 1.45%.

Employers match what workers contribute by also kicking in 6.2% toward Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare.

Workers who earn more than $200,000 individually, or $250,000 if they are married and filing jointly, pay an additional 0.9% Medicare tax.

Self-employed individuals pay 12.4% toward Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare. They also are subject to the Medicare surtax for wages over $200,000.

What a tax cut would mean

Trump has not elaborated on how large a payroll tax cut would be.

If he were to make such a move, he would not be the first to implement such changes. Former President Barack Obama previously reduced the taxes paid by employees to 4.2%, down from 6.2%, in 2011 and 2012.

Yet experts say that the boost consumers get to their pay checks might not be that noticeable.

If $10,000 was made exempt from payroll taxes, that would be just $700 for many workers, said Jeffrey Levine, CEO and director of financial planning at BluePrint Wealth Alliance. That might not be enough to stimulate the economy, he said.

Still, with lunemployment down and historically low interest rates, it is probably not the most appropriate time to make such a move, Levine said.

“You don’t use your best play in the second quarter. You wait until you really need it at the end of the game,” Levine said. “When you need the play, you want to make sure you have something you can count on.”…Read more>>