This week’s question comes from Rocco, a plant manager. We pay employees on active military duty a differential wage that makes up for wages that they would have earned had they not been on active military duty. Which payroll taxes do we need to pay on differential pay to active military duty employees? Answer: Under the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (HEART Act), differential wage payments are now subject to income tax withholding. The Internal Revenue Service recently released an advance copy of Revenue Ruling 2009-11, covering §3401(h) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, Differential Wage Payments to Active Duty Members of the Uniformed Services and is effective for differential wage payments made after December 31, 2008. The holdings of Rev. Rul. 2009-11 are:
Differential wage payments made to an individual while on active duty in the United States uniformed services for more than 30 days are subject to income tax withholding, but are not subject to FICA or FUTA taxes.
Employers may use either the aggregate method or optional flat rate withholding to calculate the amount of income tax required to be withheld on differential wage payments which do not exceed $1,000,000 when added to all other supplemental wages paid by the same employer to the individual during the calendar year.
The amounts of the differential wage payments must be reported by the employer on the employee’s Form W-2.