Trump Mulls Bypassing Congress to Suspend Payroll Tax

President seeking creative ways to aid American workers amid coronavirus crisis

Image Credits: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

President Trump has said in a wide-ranging interview with Fox News that he could suspend the payroll tax without waiting for congressional approval.

The idea of a payroll tax holiday has been floated by the Trump administration as a means to help out workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congress, however, is divided on the issue.

“Well I may do it myself”, Trump told Fox News. “I have the right to suspend it, and I may do it myself – I have the absolute right to suspend the payroll”.

The Trump administration has been pushing for a payroll tax cut in a bid to aid workers during the coronavirus crisis. Both employers and employees are currently levied 6.2% from their salaries for social security, in addition to a 1.45% tax for Medicare.

According to the Internal Revenue Code, the president is entitled to defer the collection of payroll taxes without waiting for congressional approval. The president, however, cannot forgive the taxes altogether on his own and should ask the Congress to endorse such a step.

TikTok’s Acquisition

Addressing the issue of TikTok, the president said that he did not mind if the company is purchased by a “secure US firm”.

US President Donald Trump proclaimed 15 September as the deadline for TikTok’s purchase to be completed or the US government will issue a ban over privacy concerns. Trump also told reporters that a substantial portion of the sale’s proceeds, speculated in US media to be as high as $50 billion, should go to the US Treasury.US Treasury.

US Action on Hong Kong

Speaking on the termination of Hong Kong’s special economic status, the president said the move is likely to boost US stock exchanges.

“For freedom, we gave them tremendous incentives … they took massive business away from the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, all of our exchanges”, he said. “We’ve now taken that all back, Hong Kong will not be a successful exchange anymore … we’re going to make a lot more money now”.

In June, the US Commerce Department suspended the preferential treatment of Hong Kong over China, including export licence exceptions.

The move was made in response to legislation adopted by the Chinese parliament, under which the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress would be in charge of developing a national security law banning secessionist and subversive activity in Hong Kong. While the legislation is supported by the Hong Kong leadership, it has been met by a wave of protests in the city, as some residents fear their rights may be infringed.

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