Your Monthly Newsletter from BK Group Benefits, LLC
by BK Group Benefits, LLC
New Form W-4 and Online Withholding Calculator Released
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released new versions of Form W-4 and its online withholding calculator to help taxpayers check their 2018 tax withholding following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017. The IRS urges taxpayers to use these tools to make sure they have the right amount of tax taken out of their paychecks.
Among other things, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increased the standard deduction, removed personal exemptions, increased the child tax credit, limited or discontinued certain deductions, and changed the tax rates and brackets. If changes to withholding should be made as a result of these changes, the IRS withholding calculator gives employees the information they need to fill out a new Form W-4. Employees must submit the completed W-4 to their employers.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has withdrawn its 2014 guidance regarding the meaning and scope of the term "employment relationship" under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and replaced it with its guidance from 2008. As a result of this change, the DOL no longer advises that "most workers are employees."
Withdrawn 2014 Guidance
In 2014, the DOL issued guidance on how to determine whether an employment or independent contractor relationship exists for purposes of the federal FLSA. The guidance stated, among other things, "Applying the FLSA's definition [of "employ"], workers who are economically dependent on the business of the employer, regardless of skill level, are considered to be employees, and most workers are employees." Effective immediately, this guidance has been withdrawn.
2008 Guidance Once Again Effective
The 2014 guidance has been replaced by guidance from 2008. The 2008 guidance does not contain the statement that "most workers are employees." However, this guidance does include the same "economic realities" test present in the 2014 guidance, under which determination of employee status is made by considering the following factors:
Whether the work performed is an integral part of the employer's business.
Whether the worker's managerial skill affects the worker's opportunities for profit or loss.
The worker's relative investment compared to the employer's investment.
Whether work performed requires special business skills, judgment, and initiative.
Whether the worker-employer relationship is permanent or indefinite.
The nature and degree of the employer's control of the work.
2018 HSA Contribution Limit Decreased for Certain Individuals
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that the 2018 annual limitation on health savings account (HSA) contributions by individuals with family coverage under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) is now $6,850. This limit was previously announced as $6,900, but has been revised downward due to an inflation adjustment provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The 2018 annual limitation on HSA contributions by an individual with self-only coverage under a HDHP remains unchanged at $3,450.
Click here to read the IRS announcement. For information on how to properly adjust employer or employee contributions to comply with the newly announced limit, please contact the IRS.
Best Practices for Preventing Workplace Harassment
A report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) highlights best practices for employers to prevent and respond to workplace harassment. According to the EEOC report, employers should:
Foster an organizational culture in which harassment is not tolerated;
Adopt and maintain a comprehensive anti-harassment policy (which prohibits harassment based on any protected characteristic, and which includes social media considerations) and establish procedures consistent with the best practices outlined in the report;
Ensure that any such anti-harassment policy--especially details about how to complain of harassment and how to report observed harassment--is frequently communicated to employees in a variety of forms and methods;
Ensure that where harassment is found to have occurred, discipline is prompt and proportionate to the severity of the infraction. Discipline should be consistent and not give or create the appearance of undue favor to any particular employee; and
Dedicate sufficient resources to training middle-management and first-line supervisors on how to respond effectively to harassment that they observe, that is reported to them, or of which they have knowledge or information--even before such harassment reaches a legally-actionable level.
Click here to read the EEOC report in its entirety.
Information regarding employer responsibilities under federal nondiscrimination laws may be found in our section on Discrimination.
Counting Employees Vital to ACA Compliance
Employers are reminded that it is important to know how many full-time employees they have in order to ensure compliance with the employer shared responsibility ("pay or play") provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which apply to applicable large employers (ALEs).
Determining ALE Status
Whether an employer is considered an ALE for a particular calendar year depends on the size of its workforce during the preceding calendar year. For example, employers will use information about the size of their workforce during 2017 to determine if their company is an ALE for 2018. Employers with an average of at least 50 full-time employees in the preceding calendar year—including full-time equivalent employees—are generally deemed ALEs for the current calendar year.
Identifying Full-Time Employees
In general, for purposes of pay or play:
A full-time employee is, for a calendar month, an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week.However,130 hours of service in a calendar month is treated as the monthly equivalent of at least 30 hours of service per week.
A full-time equivalent employee is a combination of employees, each of whom individually is not a full-time employee, but who, in combination, are equivalent to a full-time employee.
For additional rules on determining who is a full-time employee, including what counts as an hour of service, click here.
The most important tasks in conducting a job interview are preparing questions and evaluating candidate answers. However, there are other key items you can attend to that will ensure a successful job interview. Learn the action steps you need to know by watching the video below.
BK Group Benefits, LLC
531 Main Street, Branford, CT 06405
The content herein is provided for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other advice or opinions on any matters. This information has been taken from sources which we believe to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy.