Stacy Jensen No Comments

IRS raises federal mileage rate mid-year

Rising gas prices have inspired the Internal Revenue Service to increase the “optional standard mileage rate” used to calculate tax deductions by 4 cents a mile for the last six months of 2022. This adjustment is normally not made mid-year.

The optional adjustment starts July 1 and brings the IRS rate to 62.5 cents per mile. It comes after a 2.5-cent increase went into effect in January and represents the first mid-year adjustment made since 2011, the IRS said.

  • Taxpayers use the rate to calculate the “deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and certain other purposes” instead of tracking actual costs.
  • It’s also used as a benchmark by the federal government and many businesses to reimburse their employees for mileage. 

Employers do not have to mirror the federal rate nor legally offer gas reimbursement.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

Colorado’s Sick leave law challenged by Southwest Airlines

Colorado’s Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (HFWA) mandates paid sick leave as well as COVID related PHE pay, and Southwest Airlines is suing because of it. According to court documents, Southwest claims the HFWA “imposes a pervasive and comprehensive paid sick leave scheme on employers.”

Their beef is not in providing paid sick leave benefits, which they assert they already do, but rather with the complete lack of ability they now have to require proof of illness when employees take sick leave. The HFWA only allows employers to request substantiation of paid sick leave taken under the act when illnesses have extended beyond four or more consecutive days. This means that an airline attendant, for example, seeking to take sick leave under the HFWA could communicate their illness with no advanced notice, potentially resulting in delays or cancellations of flights, they assert.

Because of union negotiations, based on collective bargaining agreements, the airline said their existing sick leave policy allows the company to monitor absences to ensure sick leave is not abused and to comply with federal safety rules. Unlike the HFWA restrictions, their former sick leave plan regulates discipline for abuse of sick time, including disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

This will be a fascinating one to watch, from the ground.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

20223 HSA Limits announced

The IRS has announced the 2023 HSA contribution limits. The annual limit on HSA contributions for self-only coverage will be $3,850. This is an increase of $200 from the contribution limit of $3,650 in 2022. The annual contribution limit for family coverage will increase $450 from the 2022 limit to a total of $7,750 for 2023. This is a significant increase of about 5.5 percent, while the increase from 2021 to 2022 was only about 1.4 percent. The annual catch-up contribution for individuals 55 and over will remain at $1,000. Employees should take these limits into consideration as they plan ahead for their 2023 open enrollment changes and elections. With the increased limits, employers may consider adjusting contribution or match amounts for the 2023 benefit year, as well.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

Federal government extends PHE 9 Times

This week the Department of Health extended the federal Public Health Emergency yet again. The public health emergency was initially declared in January 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began. It has been renewed each quarter since and was due to expire on April 16. Effective 4/16/2022, it will be extended for 90 days, through mid-July. The government indicated they would give states 60 days notice prior to termination or expiration. Keep in mind that in Colorado, that means employer’s obligation to provide PHE pay for applicable COVID related reasons extends for four weeks beyond the ending of any federal PHE, so this puts us at an obligation not ending sooner than August 15, 2022. We will update you when the federal PHE does eventually expire.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

Federal government extends PHE for 8th Time

On January 14th, 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services extended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) for an additional 90 days. In Colorado, the Healthy Family Workplaces Act mandates supplemental PHE pay for the following reasons:

  • illness with COVID symptoms
  • quarantining or isolating due to COVID exposure
  • COVID testing
  • vaccination and side effects
  • inability to work due to health conditions that may increase susceptibility or risk of COVID
  • COVID-related needs of family (illness, school closure, etc.). 

The extension of the federal PHE means that the PHE will remain in effect until at least April 16, 2022, and the HFWA COVID-19 pay requirement will then continue another four weeks following that date. Keep in mind, however, that there is no guarantee the federal PHE will not be extended again, hence extending Colorado’s mandatory PHE pay requirement.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

Denver current mask order to end

Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced January 31, 2022 that Denver’s face covering order will expire on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. The public health order requiring face coverings indoors, or proof of vaccination in lieu of face coverings, will not be extended. The order was initially implemented in November, and was extended in December. Employers may choose to take the approach of continuing to require vaccines and/or masks.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

OSHA ‘Vaccine-or-Test’ Blocked by Supreme Court

In a 6-3 decision on January 13th, the Supreme Court voted to block the OSHA ETS that would have required businesses with 100 or more employees to implement systems by early February to either ensure the vaccination status of employees or require weekly testing for COVID-19 (vaccine status was to be determined starting January 10th, 2022).

The decision left many employers and employees alike wondering what comes next. There are still many state, local and industry level rules and recommendations employers must consider. Many private companies have already adopted internal policies regarding vaccinations and testing, some that align with the intended policies of the ETS. In addition, the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) was granted the ability to require COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers at providers and suppliers.

In the coming months, OSHA may consider a permanent vaccine-or-testing requirement, as the original ETS was only intended to be in place for 6 months as a temporary solution. The agency can expect similar efforts to overturn further initiatives, and was recently seeking comments and input on a more permanent proposal.

For now, though, the ruling means employers who previously made plans to ensure compliance with the “vaccine or test” mandate will not be tasked with requiring such measures.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

Vaccine mandate

A ruling that requires workers at companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing is back on.

On Friday evening, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay on the rule. It had been blocked on Nov. 6, a day after it was formally issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Next day, more than a dozen groups asked the Supreme court for a new halt of the ruling.

The DOL announced that OSHA would not issue citations for noncompliance with the testing requirement before Feb. 9, “so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance” with the rule. The rule requires company’s with 100+ employees to ensure each employee is either vaccinated or if unvaccinated that they are tested weekly for COVID-19. They must also enforce a mask mandate for unvaccinated workers (keeping in mind that some local and city ordinances currently require indoor masks regardless of vaccination status). These larger employers must begin compliance as of January 10, 2022.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

Colorado counties reinstate indoor mask mandate

Denver Public Health and Environment has mandated that masks be worn in all public spaces effective November 24th. The order follows:

https://www.denvergov.org/files/assets/public/covid19/documents/public-orders/pho-face-covering-order-20211123.pdf

The Jeffco Board of Health passed a public health order Monday evening that requires masks in public indoor spaces for those 3 years old and older. The Tri-County Health Department, which covers Arapahoe and Adams counties, passed a similar measure shortly after the Jeffco vote. That order applies to people 2 years and older. This order goes into effect on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, at 12:01AM MST and will remain in effect at least until 01/03/2022. https://www.tchd.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=483

Each of these counties orders contains a “vax or mask” provision. In Denver, “Fully Vaccinated Facility,”  as  used in this  Order, means  any  indoor  facility or portion of  an  indoor  facility where  the  owner,  operator  or  manager  has  verified that  at  least  95%  of  the  persons  within the  facility (including employees, invitees, attendees, patrons, customers, and any other  person entering  the facility)  have been  fully  vaccinated.     To be  considered a  Fully Vaccinated Facility, the  owner, operator  or  manager  of  the  facility must  notify DDPHE  of the  name  of  the  facility, address  of  the  facility, type  of  facility (office  building, gym, etc), contact  information of  the  person at  the  facility responsible  for verifying the  vaccination  status  of  persons  within  the  facility, and the  date  the facility began collecting vaccination status. “Fully  vaccinated” means  two  weeks  after  a person’s  second  dose in  a two-dose series  and  two  weeks  after  a single-dose vaccine.  

These orders affect your businesses and your employees who are working in any public area in any of the noted counties. Boulder County has had an indoor mask mandate prior to these new issuances.

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional information, as necessary.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

New Colorado tax withholding form

What is form DR 0004?

Form DR 0004 is the new Colorado withholding certificate that is optional for employees to complete starting in 2022. It is not meant to replace form W-4 for Colorado withholding, but is meant to help employees in a few specific situations who may want to fine-tune their Colorado withholding. If an employee asks about adjusting their withholding, the employer is required to provide form DR 0004 to them. 

How does form DR 0004 change the Colorado withholding calculation?

The Colorado Withholding Worksheet for Employers (DR 1098) prescribes the calculation employers are required to use. It has been updated with directions for entering the amounts from form DR 0004 into the existing calculation steps. 

  • If an employee completes form DR 0004, the employer is required to calculate their Colorado withholding using the amounts entered on that DR 0004, as prescribed in the DR 1098 worksheet.
  • If an employee does not complete form DR 0004, the employer is required to calculate their Colorado withholding using the amounts prescribed in the DR 1098 worksheet based on their IRS form W-4.

Reasons an employee may want to complete form DR 0004:

  • They earn most of their income from one job
  • They expect significant income from sources that will not have withholding
  • They expect to claim federal itemized deductions
  • They expect to claim the new Colorado child tax credit

Reasons an employee may want to complete a new Federal W-4 and/or Colorado DR 0004:

  • Withholding certificate was last updated 3 or more years ago
  • Wages or other income changes significantly
  • Number of jobs changes
  • Filing status changes (single, married filing joint, etc.)
  • Federal deductions change significantly
  • Colorado child tax credit qualifications change

This optional form will soon be available on the InTANDEM HR employee self-service portal.