IRS delays contractor tax withholding

The Internal Revenue Service is pushing off an unpopular requirement that the government withhold a percentage of its payments to most contractors for tax purposes.

The final rule, published in Monday's Federal Register, delays a mandate that federal, state and local governments with expenditures of more than $100 million withhold 3 percent of payments for products and services worth more than $10,000, including nonconfidential or classified contracts, grants to for-profit companies, and farm and Medicare payments. The requirement, scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2012, now will be delayed to apply to payments on new contracts made after Dec. 31, 2012. The rule will affect all contracts starting Dec. 31, 2013.

The requirement, included in the 2005 Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act to ensure that individuals and companies with outstanding tax debts do not receive new payments from the federal government, would closely mirror the withholding system on individual salaries and wages. The government would set aside 3 percent of the gross payments and the information and funds would then be transmitted to the IRS. At the end of the year, the amount withheld would be credited toward taxes owed.

Lawmakers earlier this year proposed repealing the controversial provision, and Obama administration officials in March expressed support for delaying the requirement while agencies prepare to implement the change.

Critics have suggested that the provision is unnecessarily burdensome during an economic downturn, noting that other measures exist to ensure contractor tax compliance.

"This is an 11th-hour quasi-reprieve from a temporary tax increase that would have eliminated jobs and helped only the IRS," said Phil Bond, president and chief executive officer of TechAmerica, a technology-based trade association. "It is a scheme to force companies to pay taxes in advance and then wait for the IRS to send them a refund a year later. A one-year extension of the withholding and reporting requirements is a significant, positive development but far from a solution."

Roger Jordan, vice president of government relations at the Professional Services Council, a contractor trade group, on Monday also applauded the delay but called the requirement itself "bad policy."

"The withholding requirement would significantly reduce companies' cash flow at a time when the current economic environment is already squeezing their ability to meet operating expenses," he said. "While it's appropriate to focus on how to ensure that any tax liabilities government contractors and other organizations owe are properly collected, other regulations have been implemented in recent years that effectively ensure contractors are meeting their tax obligations."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.