On December 23, President Obama signed a two month payroll tax extension through February 29, 2012 which was passed by Congress to extend the 4.2% Social Security payroll tax rate for individuals, continue unemployment insurance benefits, and prevent reimbursement cuts to Medicare providers. The tax reduction continuation amounts to about $1,000 per
year for the typical U.S. household.
The House and Senate both passed by unanimous consent the bill earlier on Dec. 23, a day after House Republicans dropped their opposition to legislation previously passed by the Senate. To secure the agreement, a House-Senate conference committee was established to negotiate a package that would extend the payroll tax cut through the end of 2012, as well as a longer-term extension of unemployment insurance benefits and the Medicare reimbursement provisions known as the “doc fix.”
The extension through Feb. 29 will be paid for through a one-tenth of 1 percent increase in the fees charged by government-sponsored housing finance enterprises (GSEs) to guarantee mortgage loans as described in Title IV of the bill.
In addition to the two-month extensions, the newly enacted package also includes a requirement for the president to make a decision within 60 days on a permit to authorize construction of the Canada-Texas Keystone XL pipeline, and it modifies previous Senate-passed language that critics said would make the payroll tax cut extension difficult or unworkable for payroll processors to implement. 12.23.2011