Viewing posts from: November 2016

Test Your Turkey Day Knowledge!

Posted November 23, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

thanksgiving-squareTime to put on your Thanksgiving knowledge to the test! And hopefully leave you with some trivia that will impress your family at the dinner table!

1. The first Thanksgiving was held in autumn of…
a. 1601
b. 1698
c. 1720
d. 1621

2. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday after being convinced by Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote the classic song…
a. Yankee Doodle
b. Mary Had a Little Lamb
c. America the Beautiful
d. Over the River and Through the Woods

3. True or False: Thanksgiving was almost a fast – not a feast.

4. In 2009, President Obama pardoned a 45-pound turkey, named Courage, who was then honored to serve as Grand Marshal of the Thanksgiving Parade at this famous location…
a. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC
b. Thanksgiving Day Parade in Walt Disney World, FL
c. Thanksgiving Day Parade in Disneyland, CA
d. America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade in Plymouth, MA

5. Why is Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November?
a. That was when the first Thanksgiving was held
b. That’s when it was celebrated before becoming a national holiday
c. So that it would align with Thursday night football
d. To keep it at least a month before Christmas – for shopping!

6. Which two NFL teams host games on Thanksgiving day?
a. Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys
b. Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears
c. Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots
d. Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers

7. True or False: Americans eat 30 million turkeys each Thanksgiving.

Answers:

1. d. 1621 – The first Thanksgiving included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians and lasted for three days (and no turkeys were served at the feast!). Many historians believe that only five women were present at the feast as many of the first women settlers didn’t survive the difficult first year in the U.S.

2. b. Mary Had a Little Lamb – Sarah wrote letters for 17 years campaigning for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday.

3. True – The early settlers gave thanks by praying and abstaining from food, which was the original plan for the first Thanksgiving, but once the Wampanoag Indians joined them it turned into a feast! Lucky us!

4. c. Thanksgiving Day Parade in Disneyland, CA – The first turkey pardon ceremony started with President Truman in 1947.

5. b. That’s when it was celebrated before becoming a national holiday – Since President George Washington’s time, Thanksgiving was usually celebrated on a Thursday, so once President Lincoln declared it a national holiday it was solidified as the last/fourth Thursday of November. In 1939, President Roosevelt moved it a week earlier hoping it would help the shopping season during the Depression era, but it never caught on and was changed back two years later.

6. a. Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys – The NFL started the Thanksgiving Classic games in 1920 and since then these two teams have hosted games on Thanksgiving Day. In 2006, a third game was added with no fixed hosts.

7. False – We eat 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving! And scientists have ruled out turkey as causing that Thanksgiving-coma. It’s most likely due to the high-calorie meal and relaxing after a busy work week.

Wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!

Sources:
allParenting | 20 Thanksgiving Fun Facts That Will Totally Impress the Kids

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.

Injunction Blocking New Overtime Regulations

Posted November 23, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

dol-sealYesterday, November 22, 2016, a federal district court in Texas granted a preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing and enforcing its recently revised regulations on the white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The recent regulations that were to go into effect on December 1, 2016, would more than double the minimum salary requirements certain employees must receive in order to be exempt from overtime.

Please note that this is only a temporary injunction, not permanent. This only prevents the regulations from going into effect on December 1, so they could potentially just be pushed back to a later date.

Impact for Employers

This could be good news for some employers who have not yet made any changes to their compensation plans – you now have some extra time. But for those that have already made the necessary changes, you will need to determine if you want to continue with the changes, suspend the changes, or roll back those changes pending any legal developments. Employers should consult with their attorneys to determine what course of action is best for them.

Source: ThinkHR | Breaking News: Texas Court Issues Injunction Blocking New December 1st Overtime Regulations

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.

The Future of the ACA and Employee Benefit Plans

Posted November 21, 2016 by PHaynes

ppaca-road-sign

It’s been over a week since the election results came in and since then, you have likely been inundated with emails, seen many television interviews, and heard other news sources espousing predictions of what is on the horizon for employee benefit plans, and specifically, the future of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). Indeed, the Trump administration and the Republican-dominated Congress will likely come out swinging, raring to take down the ACA as one of its top priorities in an effort to show supporters that President Trump is fulfilling one of his campaign promises immediately.

Since almost no one predicted this outcome, almost all assumptions regarding the future of the ACA were based on a Democratic President and Senate. Since Republicans are now just beginning to develop and flesh out their strategies, many theories are still conjecture at this point; however, there are some consistent themes and predictions upon which industry leaders all agree. “Reconciliation” and “Repeal and Replace” are going to be terms we hear on repeat over the next few months. Congress will likely begin the “Repeal and Replace” process by looking again at the Reconciliation legislation it passed in 2015 (which was subsequently vetoed by President Obama) that would have repealed the spending and tax revenue provisions of the ACA. Since this legislation was already passed, Congress may just take it “off the shelf” and vote again to pass it.

 If the prior or a similar version of the Reconciliation legislation is passed, it is expected that the following provisions of the ACA will be repealed: Federal Exchanges (which may include a transition period or “off-ramp” of one, two, or more years,  so millions of people are not left without coverage) and Federal Subsidies, the Employer Mandate, the Individual Mandate (also possibly with a transition period to effectively resolve the issue of needing this mandate to retain the guaranteed issue provision), Employer Reporting Requirements, the Cadillac Tax, and all other taxes (e.g. medical device tax, health insurance tax, etc.). Though these provisions are likely on the chopping block early on, other provisions of the ACA may remain. Many insiders believe, and President-elect Trump has stated on a few occasions, that some of the popular provisions in the “Market Reform” section of the ACA should not and will not be repealed. Some of these provisions include Coverage of Pre-Existing Conditions, Dependent Coverage to Age 26, Preventive Care Coverage, and No Rescission of Coverage, among a few others.

If the above theories on which ACA provisions will be repealed and which will remain are correct, we are left with one important question: if all of the ACA tax provisions are repealed, how will the government pay for the Market Reform provisions, which are some of the most expensive pieces of the ACA to implement? In other words, what will “Replace” the tax provisions to raise the necessary funds for the remaining provisions? Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans’ “Better Way” proposal issued in June 2016, which sets forth a number of replacements to overhaul the ACA, may be the starting point. (Click HERE to read the proposal in full.) Though this proposal was never introduced to Congress as legislation and needs to be reworked in many areas, it will likely serve as a blueprint for some of the ACA replacement provisions. Some of the replacement concepts discussed in the proposal include the ability to purchase insurance across state lines, expanding the market for Health Savings Accounts and Consumer Driven Healthcare, the use of High-Risk Pools, and Medicaid Reform.

What Should You do Now?

Though it looks like many of the most controversial parts of the ACA may be repealed after January 20, 2017, at this point, the ACA in its entirety is still the law of the land.  Until certain provisions have been officially repealed and/or replaced we recommend that all employers continue to strive to comply with the law. It is the commitment of Crawford Advisors, LLC an AssuredPartners Company that we will remain at the forefront of these discussions and changes and communicate them to our clients in a timely manner as they unfold over the next few months.

Should you have an immediate question or concern, please don’t hesitate to contact your Account Manager or Sales Executive.  Thank you.

IRS Extends Deadline for Employers to Furnish Forms 1095-C and 1095-B

Posted November 21, 2016 by PHaynes

IRS

On November 18, 2016, the IRS released Notice 2016-70 to extend the due date for employers to furnish Form 1095-C or 1095-B under the Affordable Care Act’s employer reporting requirement. Employers will have an extra 30 days to prepare and distribute the 2016 form to individuals. The due dates for filing forms with the IRS are not extended.

Background

Applicable large employers (ALEs), who generally are entities that employed 50 or more full-time and full-time-equivalent employees in 2015, are required to report information about the health coverage they offered or did not offer to certain employees in 2016. To meet this reporting requirement, the ALE will furnish Form 1095-C to the employee or former employee and file copies, along with transmittal Form 1094-C, with the IRS.

Employers, regardless of size, that sponsored a self-funded (self-insured) health plan providing minimum essential coverage in 2016 are required to report coverage information about enrollees. To meet this reporting requirement, the employer will furnish Form 1095-B to the primary enrollee and file copies, along with transmittal Form 1094-B, with the IRS. Self-funded employers who also are ALEs may use Forms 1095-C and 1094-C in lieu of Forms 1095-B and 1094-B.

Extended Due Dates

Specifically, Notice 2016-70 extends the following due dates:

  • The deadline for furnishing 2016 Form 1095-C, or Form 1095-B, if applicable, to employees and individuals is March 2, 2017 (extended from January 31, 2017).
  • The deadline for filing copies of the 2016 Forms 1095-C, along with transmittal Form 1094-C (or copies of Forms 1095-B with transmittal Form 1094-B), if applicable, with the IRS is:
    • If filing by paper, February 28, 2017.
    • If filing electronically, March 31, 2017.

Prior to the IRS announcement, a process existed for employers to file Form 8809 to request a 30-day extension of the due date to furnish forms to individuals. Notice 2016-70 explains that the new extended due date applies automatically so individual requests are not needed. Employers that had already submitted extension requests will not receive a reply.

Additional Information

Notice 2016-70 also provides guidance to taxpayers who do not receive a Form 1095-B or 1095-C by the time they file their 2016 individual tax return.

Lastly, the IRS encourages employers, insurers, and other reporting entities to furnish forms to individuals and file reports with the IRS as soon as they are ready.

Should you have questions, comments or concerns, please contact your Account Manager or Sales Executive.

 

Links:

Final Versions and Instructions for Forms 1094-C & 1095-C

 

 

Final Versions and Instructions for Forms 1094-C & 1095-C

Posted November 18, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

NAHU - PPACAApplicable large employers (ALEs) and self-insured plan sponsors who utilize Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report their offers of coverage to their full-time employees (working 30 or more hours per week), should be aware of some of the changes the IRS has made to the final versions and instructions for these forms.

  • Conditional offers to spouses – new codes 1J and 1K were added to Form 1095-C, line 14, to facilitate reporting of conditional offers to spouses.
    • Code 1J – applies to minimum essential coverage (MEC), providing minimum value is offered to the employee, and is conditionally offered to the spouse, but not offered to dependents.
    • Code 1K – applies if MEC providing minimum value is offered to the employee, and is offered to dependents and conditionally offered to the spouse.
  • COBRA reporting – the 2016 instructions provide additional detail and examples for reporting offers of COBRA.
  • Penalties – the penalties for failure to file or furnish the forms have increased from $250 to $260 per statement. The language permitting “good faith” compliance has been removed, but penalties can still be waived if the failure is due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect.
  • ALE Aggregated Groups (members referred to as ALE Member):
    • Clarification that the reporting obligation is with each ALE Member if the ALE Aggregated Group has more than 50 FTEs, even if the particular ALE Member has fewer than 50 FTEs.
    • Guidance for determining which ALE Member has the reporting obligation if an employee was employed by more than one ALE Member.
    • Examples regarding ALE Members that file multiple Forms 1094-C, for assistance in identifying the authoritative transmittal.
  • Expanded definitions – the new instructions include expanded definitions for “full-time employee” and “employee required contribution.”
  • Transition relief/interim guidance – qualifying offer transition relief is no longer available, and the applicable box on Form 1094-C is now marked “reserved.” There are certain other transition relief available only for non-calendar year plans, and only for the months that fall within the 2015 plan year. Multiemployer plan interim guidance continues to apply for 2016.
  • Affordability safe harbor – an affordability safe harbor code should not be used on line 16 of Form 1095-C for any month that the ALE Member did not offer MEC to at least 95% of its FTEs and dependents.
  • Clarifications on forms:
    • Updating references to the FTE counts to make clear that it refers to the definition of “full-time”
    • Part III of Form 1095-C should only be completed for employees who enroll in self-insured coverage

The following also have updates to the forms and instructions:

Source: Hunton & Williams | ACA Update: IRS Issues Final Versions of 2016 Forms 1094-C and 1095-C and Instructions

Links:
CA – Getting Ahead of the Game on Health Care Information Reporting 11/17/16
CA – Earlier Deadlines for 2016 ACA Reporting 10/13/16

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.

AssuredPartners Webinar | Post Election Recap

Posted November 17, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

AP Logo LargeIf the results of this election left you with questions on the future of the economy and the insurance industry (including employee benefit plans) this is a webinar you will not want to miss. Please join speakers from The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (The Council) as they provide an inside analysis and a results breakdown of the 2016 Election. The webinar will cover President-Elect Trump, Republican control of the House and Senate, and the potential impact on the economy, the insurance industry and your business.

The Council is the premier association for the top regional, national and international commercial insurance and employee benefits intermediaries worldwide. With expansive international reach, The Council fosters industry wide relationships around the globe by engaging lawmakers, regulators and stakeholders to promote the interests of its members and the valuable role they play in the mitigation of risk for their clients. Founded in 1913, The Council is based in Washington, D.C.

Webinar Details:

  • Friday, November 18, 2016
  • 2:00 – 3:00pm EST
  • No Cost to Attend

Register Now - CA Blue

About the presenters:
Joel Wood is in his 23rd year as senior vice president of government affairs for The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers. Annually dubbed one of the top trade association lobbyists in Washington by “The Hill” magazine, Wood is also a regular contributor to The Council’s award-winning industry publication, Leader’s Edge. Wood spent his early career as Assistant Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents and served six years as Press Secretary and Legislative Director for Rep. Don Sundquist, R-Tenn. In 2001, following the diagnosis of his son James, Wood and his wife, Dana, established the Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne, a 501(c)3 organization which has raised tens of millions of dollars in funding for research and treatments of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the world’s most lethal childhood genetic disease. Wood is a graduate of the University of Mississippi.

Joel Kopperud is Vice President of Government Affairs. He focuses on legislative and regulatory activity impacting employer-provided benefits, property/casualty insurance regulation, and federal natural catastrophe policies. Specifically, Kopperud is working to reform the Affordable Care Act and was instrumental in The Council’s successful efforts to guide legislation through Congress that renewed TRIA and created a national broker licensing regime. He previously worked at Global USA, Inc., where he directed the group’s political, legislative and regulatory advocacy on international trade and export control issues. Kopperud also lobbied at the Financial Services Roundtable, where he worked on a number of policy initiatives and legislative campaigns relating to insurance and financial services. Kopperud is a 2001 graduate of American University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

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.

Getting Ahead of the Game on Health Care Information Reporting

Posted November 7, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

NAHU - PPACAFor applicable large employers (ALEs) it’s not too early to start preparing the information you must report about the health care coverage you offered to your full-time employees for 2016. These seven facts should help get you started:

  1. The health care law requires ALEs to report information about health insurance coverage offered to its full-time employees and their dependents as well as to the IRS.
  2. ALEs must report information about themselves, the coverage they offered – if any – and the individuals covered under the policy.
  3. ALEs are required to furnish a statement to each full-time employee that includes the same information provided to the IRS by January 31, 2017.
  4. ALEs that file 250 or more information returns during the calendar year must file the returns electronically.
  5. ALEs must file Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage with the IRS annually, no later than February 28, 2017, or March 31, 2017 if filed electronically. Forms 1095-C are filed accompanied by the transmittal form, Form 1094-C.
  6. Self-insured employers that are ALEs, and therefore are also subject to the information reporting requirements for offers of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, must combine reporting under both provisions by filing a single information return, Form 1095-C, and transmittal, Form 1094-C.
  7. The ACA Assurance Testing System opens today, November 7, 2016, for tax year 2016 testing. Software developers – including employers and issuers who passed AATS for tax year 2015 – will not have to retest for tax year 2016; the Tax Year Software Packages will be moved into Production status. New participants need to comply with test requirements for tax year 2016. For more information, see Publication 5165, Guide for Electronically Filing ACA Information Returns for Software Developers and Transmitters.

Source: IRS | Health Care Information Reporting: Seven Things Employers Can Think About Now

Links:
Form 1095-C
Form 1094-C
Guide for Electronically Filing ACA Information Returns for Software Developers and Transmitters

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 | Multigenerational Workforce: Eliminating Conflict, Encouraging Teamwork & Motivating Employees

Posted November 3, 2016 by Megan DiMartino

Business people having meeting around table in office

Join Crawford Advisors’ Manager of HR Professional Services, Cindy Wagner, for this complimentary, one-hour, HRCI* and SHRM** pre-approved webinar as she discusses how to bridge the gap between today’s multigenerational workforce.

Today’s workforce is comprised of employees representing four distinct generations with each bringing its unique life experiences and work philosophy to the workplace. Performance and productivity are critical requirements in a competitive global marketplace and have a distinct impact on any organization’s bottom line. Communications are key to creating a successful work environment.

Our presentation will help you identify:

  • Best practices for communicating effectively with each generation
  • Methods to help eliminate generational conflict and encourage a team-oriented and respectful workplace
  • Techniques to help inspire and motivate employees while maximizing employee contributions
  • Trends to help leadership develop a strategic plan to bridge organizational gaps and amplify productivity and profitability

Webinar Details:

  • Wednesday, November 16, 2016
  • 1:00 – 2:00pm EST
  • 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.

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