The Consolidated Appropriations Act — Amends the FLSA as it relates to tipped employees by prohibiting employers from keeping tips received by its employees for any purposes (this includes allowing managers or supervisors to keep any portion of employees’ tips), regardless of whether the employer takes a tip credit.
All employees who actively worked for InTANDEM HR and our work site partners in 2018 are now able to view their 2018 W-2 in the InTANDEM HR Employee Self-Service portal. If they requested an electronic W-2 they will not receive a paper mailed copy. If they did not select the electronic option a paper copy will be mailed to them by our TPA no later than 1/31/2019. All W-2s for 2018 and prior applicable years are available electronically online through the ESS now, regardless of whether employees selected the electronic or paper version.
On December 19, the IRS released Publication 5330, The New Tax Cut Law Will Impact Your 2018 Tax Return, with information that payroll professionals can use to respond to employee questions during the tax filing season.
The publication includes two key messages:
- “Remember, these changes come from the new tax law, not your payroll or human resource office.”
- “Your employer/payroll office doesn’t provide tax advice.”
Instead, the IRS directs employees to the IRS website and to tax professionals in order to understand changes caused by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA; Pub. L. 115-97).
Publication 5330 explains that there were major changes to the tax law for 2018 taxes. The tax tables issued earlier in the year made adjustments to take-home pay to reflect new tax rates. These adjustments may change the amount of employees’ tax refunds or tax bills during the filing season, especially if employees did not complete Forms W-4 to adjust their withholding during the year.
The IRS also advises employees on what to do in 2019 to better prepare themselves for the 2020 tax filing season. Emphasis is placed on determining the appropriate amount of withholding during the year by performing a “Paycheck Checkup,” even if an employee made adjustments to withholding in 2018.
Publication 5330 was developed by the IRS in partnership with APA (American Payroll Association) and includes both the IRS and APA official logos. At the request of Terry Lemons, the IRS’s Chief of Communications and Liaison, APA’s Government Relations Task Force (GRTF) Subcommittee on IRS Issues prepared a list of topics for IRS outreach. Payroll professionals likely distributed many messages about the TCJA to employees during the year. Publication 5330 provides an official notice that payroll and human resource offices can use to respond to employee questions.
The IRS announced that the business standard mileage rate for transportation expenses paid or incurred beginning January 1, 2019, will be 58 cents per mile, up 3.5 cents from the 54.5 cents-per-mile rate in effect during 2018 [Notice 2019-02, released 12-14-18].
The mileage rate may be used to compute the amount to reimburse employees who are using their own cars for business purposes. It may also be used by employers that elect to use the “cents-per-mile” valuation method for purposes of determining the amount that needs to be imputed to an employee’s income for personal use of certain company-owned or leased nonluxury vehicles. However, it may not be used by employees in claiming a tax deduction for unreimbursed employee business expenses, since such deductions are suspended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
REMINDER – There is no legal requirement in the private sector to reimburse employees for miles driven in the course and scope of their job at the federal IRS rate. Employers may choose a rate that is higher or lower than this IRS standard. Employers that intend to continue using the business standard mileage rate should make sure they change to the 2019 rate for all affected travel on or after January 1, 2019. And remember that business miles driven in December 2018 that show up on an employee’s expense report in 2019 are governed by the rules applicable to the corresponding 2018 mileage rate.
A recent scam coming from emails impersonating the IRS has triggered an onslaught of computer viruses. The IRS has posted this article alerting consumers to the issue:
The phony emails can be potentially dangerous to your small business if employees do click on the links as they contain malware, which, when clicked on, can spread viruses throughout a company. The IRS has indicated that the emails typically come from institutions posing as banks or other financial firms. If you see an email purporting to be from “IRS Online”, carrying an attachment that says something similar to “Tax Account Transcript”, do not open it!
If using a personal computer, the IRS urges that you delete or forward the scam email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If it’s on the work computer, your employees should notify your technology professionals.
On Thursday, November 15, 2018, the IRS released a statement that officially increased the annual contribution limit for Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) – both Medical FSAs and Limited Purpose FSAs – and the monthly contribution limits for Qualified Parking and Transportation Accounts for any plan years beginning in 2019. There was no change to the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account.
Beginning on January 1, 2019, the maximum employee election amounts for FSAs are as follows:
- Annual Medical and Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Account (FSA) contribution limits will increase by $50 from the current amount of $2,650 to $2,700
- Monthly limit for Parking and Transit will increase $5 from the current amount of $260 to $265
This comes as a follow-up to the announcement of increased limits for Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions for 2019 announced earlier this year. For those with Single coverage, the HSA contribution limit increases by $50, while accounts tied to Family coverage went up by $100. The catch-up contribution for HSA account holders age 55 or older will remain the same at $1,000. Here is a summary of the HSA contribution limit changes taking effect in 2019:
- HSA limits increase to $3,500 for single coverage and $7,000 for family coverage
No change to the catch-up for over 55+.
If you wish to increase your FSA contribution to this new limit given its announcement after our open enrollment commenced, you may do so up until December 31, 2018. Contact your InTANDEM HR Account Manager if you wish to make a change to your previously submitted Flexible Spending Account election.
On October 4, 2018, the EEOC announced preliminary sexual harassment data for FY 2018 (which ended September 30, 2018). The end result — sexual harassment claims are on the rise.
According to the preliminary report,
- The number of EEOC charges filed alleging sexual harassment increased over 12% in 2018
- The EEOC filed 66 harassment lawsuits (41 of which included allegations of sexual harassment), this is a 50% increase from 2017.
- The EEOC recovered nearly $70 million for victims of sexual harassment through litigation and administrative enforcement (an increase from $47.5 million recovered in 2017).
While this news should come as no surprise for employers, it does emphasize the need for employers to take appropriate steps to mitigate the risk of a sexual harassment charge by doing one (or more of the following):
- Providing sexual harassment training to all employees on a regular basis.
- Providing training to managerial employees on how to handle (and properly investigate) a sexual harassment complaint.
- Promptly investigating any sexual harassment complaint received.
- Implementing effective anti-harassment policies with several channels for reporting claims and a strong anti-retaliation provision.
- Enforcing anti-harassment policies consistently.
November 12, 2018:
At InTANDEM HR, we’re currently in full swing with open enrollment on all of our large group medical, dental, and vision plans!
This year marks our first renewal using online electronic benefits enrollment for all employees. We are again observing a “passive” enrollment year, meaning that if no changes are desired no further action is needed to continue benefits.*
Our medical renewal rates were incredibly low this year, and our large group dental insurance rates remained unchanged.
Contact your InTANDEM HR Account Manager with any questions regarding your insurance benefits.
*Enrollment in Flexible or Health Savings Accounts ALWAYS requires annual election.
Mobile devices present unique security risks because their size and nature generally puts them at higher exposure to threats than stationary devices. Indeed, lost and stolen mobile devices remain a top cause of a data breach.
Here are some ways to reduce your risk of suffering damages resulting from a lost or stolen mobile device.
Create a company mobile device policy
Organizations should create a mobile device security policy that sets forth the rules of using company mobile devices and the penalties for non-compliance. The policy should include best practices on how to reduce mobile device risks, including required employee training on how to properly and safely use mobile devices for business purposes.
Regularly install security patches and updates on all software, including anti-virus software
Software vulnerabilities are discovered routinely and software patches and updates often include security fixes to those vulnerabilities. It’s best practice to install all updates immediately (update all devices immediately, not just mobile devices!).
Password protect and enable full encryption on all mobile devices
Many state data breach notification laws contain an encryption safe harbor that says notification is not required if the compromised data was encrypted.
Additionally, use all the device’s built-in available security measures (e.g. touch identification).
Back up the device regularly
If a device is lost or stolen, your valuable data will remain safe and accessible.
Mobile devices increase employee productivity, but their nature puts them at an increased risk of being lost or stolen. Take the above precautions to reduce the damages resulting from a lost or stolen mobile device.