Creditable Coverage notice is an annual CMS requirement

Creditable Coverage notice is an annual CMS requirement
Deadline for distribution is October 15; second disclosure deadline linked to plan year

White-Collar Exemption Salary Requirements Enforced Starting December 1

Annual income threshold lower for non-HCE workers than proposed

IRS Announces 2017 Health Savings Account Contribution Limits

The IRS has announced the 2017 Health Savings Account (HSA) maximum contribution limits detailed in the newly released Revenue Procedure 2016-28. HSA contribution and plan limits will remain mostly unchanged for 2017, with only the individual HSA contribution limit increasing by $50.

White-collar exemption coming soon

The much-talked-about changes affecting the white-collar worker exemption are expected to be released sometime this summer.* The final rule was released mid-March by the U.S. Department of Labor to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB has up to 90 days to review the rule. Once approved, the rule will be published in the Federal Register. It appears the DOL’s earlier estimate of a July release date is likely to be met.

Taxpayers beware; email phishing schemes on the rise

The Internal Revenue Service renewed a consumer alert after seeing an approximate 400% surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season. The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking they are receiving official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing emails ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics related to refunds, filing status, personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

Pay equity drives new EEO-1 reporting requirement

Starting in 2017, employers required to complete an EEO-1 form must also submit W-2 earnings and hours-worked data.

The EEO-1 form must be provided by private employers with 100 or more employees and certain federal contractors each year to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Today, employers submit data about employees’ ethnicity, race and gender by job category. The reporting deadline is September 30.

DOL to release new fiduciary standard

The financial services industry is eagerly awaiting the release of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule on a revised fiduciary standard. According to the Wall Street Journal, the final rule will be unveiled April 6. The Department’s initial draft of the rule was met with controversy resulting in thousands of written comments by interest groups, advisory firms, Congressional members, and concerned citizens. Bukaty Companies’ comments were submitted this past July.

2016 payroll tax unchanged; retirement limits slightly affected

A low cost-of-living index is keeping the 2016 Social Security tax rate unchanged and retirement plan limits remain largely unchanged.

Wages subject to the Social Security tax in 2016 remain at $118,500. Wages that exceed the amount are not subject to the Social Security portion of the payroll tax.

FICA Rates
Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes are combined as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax.

The chart below identifies the rates.

Proposed salary revisions to affect white-collar worker exemption

Proposed changes by the Department of Labor (DOL) will extend overtime pay to millions of white-collar workers who historically don’t receive additional pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, created in 1938, sets specific wage and duty tests that must be met to qualify for exemption from minimum wage and overtime pay. Exemptions apply to qualified executive, administrative and professional (EAP) positions.

Creditable Coverage notice is an annual CMS requirement

Deadline for distribution is October 15; second disclosure deadline linked to plan year

Employers have an annual obligation to issue a Creditable Coverage notification to all plan participants who are Medicare eligible, including dependents and retirees. The notice informs Medicare-eligible participants whether their prescription coverage is at least as good as Medicare’s.

EE0-1 filing deadline September 30

Employers with 100-plus employees subject to reporting

Each year by September 30, private employers with 100 or more employees and certain federal contractors must provide the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with employee demographic information.

Avoiding a workers' compensation audit

If you’ve never endured a workers’ compensation audit, then you're among the lucky. Preparations can help avoid the arduous process. One key is to think about how you’d prepare for an audit before the possibility ever arises.

Good documentation and recordkeeping will allow you to respond to an audit request quickly and efficiently.

Dan Bukaty, president of Bukaty’s Property & Casualty division, has walked dozens of customers through the audit process.

Coming soon:  Proposed white-collar exemption rules
By the end of March, the Department of Labor is expected to release proposed rules that address the classification requirements for a professional exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
IRS provides transition relief for some employer payment plans

Over a year ago, the IRS issued Notice 2013-54 stating that employer payment plans that reimburse an employee for some or all of their health insurance premiums did not comply with Affordable Care Act provisions.

The IRS warned that employers who sponsor such plans would be subject to an excise tax of $100 per day for each affected individual. A new IRS Notice 2015-17 issued last month provides limited transition relief for select employers.

The relief applies to health care arrangements that constitute:

DOL revises FMLA definition of spouse

A new rule entitles all workers in legal, same-sex marriages to protected job leave to care for a spouse with a serious health condition.

Previously, spousal care leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was limited to opposite-sex couples or to same-sex couples living in states where gay marriage is legal.

Effective March 27, 2015, eligible employees may take FMLA leave for spousal care, regardless of state residence.

The U.S. Labor Department revision to the FMLA is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor.

Medicare Part D disclosure required annually

Calendar-year plan deadline is March 1.

Employers who provide prescription drug coverage to Medicare-eligible individuals must disclose each year to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services whether that coverage is “creditable” or “non-creditable.”

This disclosure requirement must be completed online no later than 60 days from the beginning of a plan year. Calendar-year plans must complete the disclosure to CMS by March 1, 2015. Non-calendar-year plan deadlines vary throughout the year.

Retirement plans must recognize same-sex spouses
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013, under federal law employers must treat same-sex couples as married for all federal tax and ERISA Title 1 purposes.

Employers who sponsor qualified retirement plans, such as a 401(k), must recognize a legally valid same-sex marriage, even if the couple resides in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.
Serving alcohol at the company party? 10 ways to manage risks

You want employees to have fun at the company party — just not too much.

Employers have a liability when serving alcohol at the company party. Help manage employee safety and reduce your risks by following these tips.

1. Check your insurance coverage for exclusions for alcohol.

2. Hire a professional bartender who is trained to limit harm and liability, and make plenty of food available.

3. Offer taxi service or reduce hotel rates for those who imbibe.
2015 Flexible Spending Account contribution limit increases

Yesterday the IRS announced that the annual FSA election cap will rise to $2,550 per employee in 2015. The $50 increase reflects a cost-of-living adjustment.

Before 2013, employers, rather than the law, set FSA limits. The change for 2015 marks the first inflation increase since the federal cap has been in place.

Despite no increase, last year the IRS made a landmark modification to the Flexible Spending Account “use it or lose it” rule. Employers may now allow employees to carry over up to $500 of unused amounts left in their health FSA expenses in the new year.

Have you considered earthquake coverage?

Blame it on hydraulic fracking, global warming, or the large fault lines we live on, but Midwestern earthquakes are on the rise.

From January 1 to June 30, 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey recorded 764 earthquakes within a 500-mile radius of Lebanon, Kansas, the geographic center of the United States. By comparison, only 292 total earthquakes occurred in this same area for all of 2013.

4 reasons to outsource your payroll headaches

To control costs, some organizations want to do as much as possible in-house. But here are four smart reasons to consider outsourcing payroll:

1)      Save time. Getting payroll calculated, processed, and distributed takes countless hours. Computer glitches, power outages, time off the job, and other unforeseen problems can make it take even longer. Your time and resources can be better used doing what you do best.