Viewing posts from: October 2016

Time Off to Vote Laws by State

Posted October 31, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

i-voted-stickerDo you know your time off rights to go vote in your state? Well, since the 2016 Presidential Election is right around the corner, here is a refresher to ensure you’re given the time to get out there and vote on November 8th! We’ve only highlighted a few states here, so please click the link below to find your state law.

Washington D.C./Delaware/Florida/New Jersey/Pennsylvania – No specific law requiring time off to vote

Maryland – Every voter may take 2 paid hours off work so long as the employee does not have 2 hours of continuous off-duty during the time that the polls are open (Md. Election Law Code Ann. § 10-315).

New York – Employees who do not have 4 consecutive non-working hours between polls opening and closing, and who do not have “sufficient” non-working time to vote, are entitled to up to 2 hours paid leave to vote. Employees must request the leave between 2 and 10 days before Election Day. The employer can specify whether it be taken at beginning or end of shift. Employers must post this rule conspicuously 10 days prior to election (Cons. Laws of New York § 3-110).

Utah – Employees who do not have 3 consecutive hours when not required to be at work during the hours polls are open are entitled to up to 2 paid hours leave to vote. The employee must request leave before Election Day. The employer can set the time for leave, but employee requests for leave at the beginning or end of work hours shall be granted (Utah Code § 20A-3-103).

Happy voting!

Source: FindLaw | State-by-State Time Off to Vote Laws

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

IRS Announces Some 2017 Tax Benefit Increases; Parking & Transit Remain $255/month

Posted October 26, 2016 by PHaynes

IRS

Today, the IRS announce the 2017 tax year annual inflation adjustments for more than 50 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2016-55 provides details about these annual adjustments. The tax year 2017 adjustments generally are used on tax returns filed in 2018.   The tax items for tax year 2017 of greatest interest to most taxpayers include the following dollar amounts:

  • The standard deduction for married filing jointly rises to $12,700 for tax year 2017, up $100 from the prior year. For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rises to $6,350 in 2017, up from $6,300 in 2016, and for heads of households, the standard deduction will be $9,350 for tax year 2017, up from $9,300 for tax year 2016.
  • The personal exemption for tax year 2017 remains as it was for 2016: $4,050.  However, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $261,500 ($313,800 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $384,000 ($436,300 for married couples filing jointly.)
  • For tax year 2017, the 39.6 percent tax rate affects single taxpayers whose income exceeds $418,400 ($470,700 for married taxpayers filing jointly), up from $415,050 and $466,950, respectively. The other marginal rates – 10, 15, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent – and the related income tax thresholds for tax year 2017 are described in the revenue procedure.
  • The limitation for itemized deductions to be claimed on tax year 2017 returns of individuals begins with incomes of $287,650 or more ($313,800 for married couples filing jointly).
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2017 is $54,300 and begins to phase out at $120,700 ($84,500, for married couples filing jointly for whom the exemption begins to phase out at $160,900). The 2016 exemption amount was $53,900 ($83,800 for married couples filing jointly).  For tax year 2017, the 28 percent tax rate applies to taxpayers with taxable incomes above $187,800 ($93,900 for married individuals filing separately).
  • The tax year 2017 maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,318 for taxpayers filing jointly who have 3 or more qualifying children, up from a total of $6,269 for tax year 2016. The revenue procedure has a table providing maximum credit amounts for other categories, income thresholds and phase-outs.
  • For tax year 2017 participants who have self-only coverage in a Medical Savings Account, the plan must have an annual deductible that is not less than $2,250 but not more than $3,350; these amounts remain unchanged from 2016. For self-only coverage the maximum out of pocket expense amount  is $4,500, up $50 from 2016. For tax year 2017 participants with family coverage, the floor for the annual deductible is $4,500, up from $4,450 in 2016, however the deductible cannot be more than $6,750, up $50 from the limit for tax year 2016. For family coverage, the out of pocket expense limit is $8,250 for tax year 2017, an increase of $100 from  tax year 2016.
  • For tax year 2017, the adjusted gross income amount used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning Credit is $112,000, up from $111,000 for tax year 2016.
  • For tax year 2017, the foreign earned income exclusion is $102,100, up from $101,300 for tax year 2016.
  • Estates of decedents who die during 2017 have a basic exclusion amount of $5,490,000, up from a total of $5,450,000 for estates of decedents who died in 2016.

Links:

 

AssuredPartners Webinar | What You Need to Know About the DOL’s Wage and Hour Changes

Posted October 25, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

AP Logo LargeThe DOL’s “Overtime” Final Rule becomes effective on December 1, 2016, meaning employers only have a few weeks left to address compliance.

This webinar will cover how the DOL’s new overtime rule differs from the current regulations and which employees will be affected by the change. It will also cover the options employers have to adapt to meet the new requirements, and the pros and cons of each, including some unanticipated difficulties employers may encounter when implementing these changes. Finally, it will cover what employers need to be doing now so that they can make the right choice and take advantage of the opportunity that the rule change presents.

Webinar Details:

  • Wednesday, October 26, 2016
  • 2:00 – 3:00pm EDT
  • No Cost to Attend

Register Now - CA Blue

About the Presenter:

Christine M. Snyder, Esq.
Christine Snyder assists public and private employers in navigating complex employment laws and regulations. She offers employers practical, preventive advice to help them avoid employment law claims and ensure that their policies and practices comply with ever-changing federal and state labor and employment laws. She also defends employers before administrative agencies and in state and federal courts.

Christine defends employers in litigation matters including wage and hour class actions and discrimination, harassment, retaliation, FMLA, wrongful discharge, and ERISA disputes.

Christine conducts investigations of employee complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and defends clients in employment discrimination and sexual harassment matters. She advises large and small public and private employers on employee and manager training, and prepares policies and procedures on topics including leave, separation and severance agreements, and releases of claims, as well as non-compete agreements, social media use, drug testing, and wage and hour matters. Christine defends private employers against employee charges filed with the EEOC and the OCRC and advises clients on compliance with FMLA and ADA rules and regulations. She also represents clients in ERISA disputes.

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

Transitional Reinsurance Fee Year 3 – Deadline Approaching Nov 15th

Posted October 13, 2016 by PHaynes

pay_dot_gov2

Deadline is Tuesday, November 15, 2016Your self-funded health plan must submit your enrollment count and schedule your payments for the 2016 plan year.

What is it?

The Reinsurance Assessment is a fee applicable to insured and self-funded major medical plans for calendar years 2014 through 2016. It will primarily be used to help cover the cost of high-dollar claims occurring within the individual market. The 2014 fee was $63 per person.  The 2015 fee was $44 per person, which the updated regulation proposes to collect in two installments: $33.00 in January 2016, and $11.00 late in the fourth quarter of 2016. (Reports due 11/16/2015, HHS’ bill comes 12/15/2015, bills due in installments; typically from your ASO-claims payer to HHS).  The 2016 fee is $27 per person.

When is it due? And, can HHS offer any help?

HHS has not yet updated their Annual Enrollment and Contributions Submission Form Manual (64 pages) and a Supporting Documentation Job Aid Manual (14 pages), but they did do a series of webinars and they offer 3 Modules of “assistance” related to questions and issues that the dealt with during last year’s submissions and payments.  Links are copied below.

Your Enrollment Counts are Due by Tuesday, November 15

HHS/CMS uses the annual enrollment count to calculate an entity’s contribution amount due for the applicable year. Plan sponsors have a choice of four counting methods. They may use different counting methods for their various plans and may also use a different counting method than that used for 2014 and 2015.

The counting methods are the same as last year:

  • Actual count.
  • Snapshot count.
  • Snapshot factor.
  • Form 5500.
    • Under all alternatives except the Form 5500 method, the number of covered lives for 2016 will be determined based on the first nine months of the 2016 calendar year.

Does my plan year matter?   No, it does not.  This is a calendar year fee (tax) on all self-funded plans.

Links

Prior guidance/postings on this topic:

Earlier Deadlines for 2016 ACA Reporting

Posted October 13, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

In 2016, the IRS extended the deadline for the 2015 ACA reporting by a few extra months. But for 2016 ACA reporting, the deadlines were not extended and the dates are soon approaching.

Also, Section 4980H Transition Relief (exempting medium sized employers with 50-99 and large employers with 100 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents from penalties for the 2015 plan year if certain conditions were met) is ending in 2016. So this means medium and large employers will be subject to penalties should they fail to offer coverage to at least 95% of their full-time employees under ACA’s shared responsibility provisions.

Source: Greensfelder | ACA Reporting: Earlier deadlines and the end of transition relief

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

HRCI & SHRM Pre-approved Crawford Advisors Webinar | Drug Deals: Understanding the Intricacies of PBM Contracts, Languages, and Opportunities

Posted October 11, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

medicinePBM contracts are notorious for being confusing and vague, yet, extremely important. Join Crawford Advisors’ Director of Data Analytics, Scott Mayer, for this complimentary, one-hour, HRCI* and SHRM** pre-approved webinar as he discusses how Pharmacy Benefit Management contracts can vary, even within the same PBM. With pharmacy spend now accounting for 20-25% of total healthcare spend, and growing, understanding these details has become more important than ever.

Topics include:

  • Contract Definitions
    • Generics
    • Single Source Medications
  • How to Determine Rebate Values
  • True Costs & Available Discounts
  • And More!

Webinar Details:

  • Monday, October 24, 2016
  • 1:00 – 2:00pm EDT
  • No Cost to Attend
  • This webinar is open to all HR and Finance Professionals – but not to brokers, agents, TPAs and PEOs.

Register Now - CA Blue

hrci_ap_preapprovedseal_2016_new*The use of this seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute’s (HRCI) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval. This activity has been approved for 1 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR, PHR, PHRca, SPHR, GPHR, PHRi, and SPHRi recertification through HRCI.

SHRM SEAL-Preferred Provider Recert_CMYK_2016_1.25in (R)**Crawford Advisors is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit shrmcertification.org.

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

IRS Finalizes Regulations Implementing Same-Sex Marriage Decisions and Guidance

Posted October 7, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

same-sex-marriageThe IRS has issued final regulations reflecting the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage and prior IRS guidance in Revenue Ruling 2013-17. The final regulations, which took effect September 2, 2016, and largely track proposed regulations issued in 2015, amend existing IRS regulations to provide that, for federal tax purposes, the terms “spouse,” “husband,” and “wife” mean an individual lawfully married to another individual, and the term “husband and wife” means two individuals lawfully married to each other.

In a change from the proposed regulations, the final regulations provide that the domestic marriage of two individuals is recognized for federal tax purposes if the marriage is recognized by the state, possession, or territory of the United States in which the couple entered into the marriage. Foreign marriages, on the other hand, are recognized if the relationship would be recognized as a marriage by any state, possession, or territory of the United States. The final regulations also provide that domestic partnerships, civil unions, or similar relationships not denominated as marriage under the laws of the state, possession, or territory of the United States where the couple entered into the relationship are not considered marriage for federal tax purposes.

The final regulations do not break new ground; rather, they confirm and formalize changes that were previously announced in sub-regulatory guidance. With the publication of these regulations, Revenue Ruling 2013-17, which was issued immediately following the Windsor decision, is obsolete. However, taxpayers may continue to rely on guidance that applied Revenue Ruling 2013-17 to employee benefit plans, such as IRS Notices 2014-1 (addressing cafeteria plans, health FSAs, DCAPs, and HSAs) and 2014-19 (addressing qualified retirement  plans).

For more information contact info@crawfordadvisors.com. The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.

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