In the absence of Congressional action to provide additional COVID-19 relief, President Trump signed three Memoranda and one Executive Order on Saturday, August 8. A summary of the actions signed by the President are:
- Deferring the withholding, deposit, and payment of payroll tax obligations. For employees who generally earn less than $4,000 during any bi-weekly pay period, the 6.2% Social Security tax that is normally withheld from employee paychecks is deferred on wages or compensation paid during the period of September 1 through December 31, 2020. These amounts are deferred without any penalties, interest, additional amount, or addition to the tax. The Secretary of the Treasury is tasked with issuing guidance to implement the memorandum.
- Providing $400 of supplemental unemployment per week to eligible claimants beginning the week of unemployment ending August 1, 2020 and concluding no later than December 27, 2020. The federal government will fund 75% of the supplemental unemployment, and the states are expected to fund the remaining 25%. This extends the supplemental unemployment instituted by the CARES Act, which expired at the end of July. Under the memorandum, supplemental unemployment benefits are paid at $400 per week rather than the $600 per week rate under the CARES Act.
- Payments on student loans held by the Department of Education will continue to be deferred until December 31, 2020. The deferment includes the cessation of payments and the waiver of all interest on those loans until December 31, 2020.
- Members of the President’s administration have been instructed to take all lawful measures to prevent residential evictions and foreclosures resulting from financial hardships caused by COVID-19.
Many questions remain regarding these Presidential actions, including the legality of the actions and the implementation of these orders. We will keep you informed as further guidance is issued.