CMSAF: Airmen, USAF Civilians Can’t Opt-Out of Payroll Tax Deferral

Airmen and Air Force civilians aren’t allowed to opt-out of a Social Security payroll tax deferral the government instituted as a form of COVID-19 relief, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass confirmed in a Sept. 7 Facebook post.

Bottom line, Bass wrote, “The extra money we will get over the next few months, will be paid back next year.”

Teammates – I’ve been getting a lot of messages about the Social Security Payroll Tax Deferral, set to go into effect…

Posted by CMSAF JoAnne S. Bass on Monday, September 7, 2020

An Aug. 8 presidential memo and Aug. 28 Internal Revenue Service guidance worked to temporarily stop Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance tax withholdings from being taken out of Americans’ paychecks “through the end of calendar year 2020,” DFAS explained on a web page about the measure.

But while some Americans may decline the temporary tax deferral so they won’t have to repay that money later, U.S. troops and DOD civilians don’t have that luxury, Bass explained.

As a result, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service “will temporarily defer the 6.2 percent Social Security Tax withholding” for service members whose monthly basic pay is below $8,666.66, DFAS wrote. This temporary deferral is “effective for the September mid-month pay,” it added.

“If your monthly rate of basic pay is at or above this threshold, your social security tax withholding will not be affected by the temporary deferral,” the web page stated. “Military members can use their August or prior LES [Leave and Earnings Statement] as a good reference for their typical Social Security tax amount.”

For Defense Department civilians, the threshold to qualify for the temporary reprieve is a bit different, the web page explained.

“Effective pay period ending September 12, 2020, DFAS will temporarily defer your 6.2 percent OASDI tax withholding if your wages, subject to OASDI are $4,000 or less in any given pay period,” it stated. “Employees can use the ‘Taxable Wages’ on the LES as a good reference for whether they will have OASDI tax deferred.”

Bass encouraged Air Force leaders to ensure their troops and families are aware of the situation so they can avoid future financial stress. She also encouraged USAF families who require more financial help to reach out to the service’s Airman and Family Readiness Centers and Military OneSource.