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Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Training for Business Owners and their Management Teams

Join Advantage partner Total HR Solutions for a critical training for Business owners and Managers on the topic of Harassment and Discrimination Prevention.

Thursday, May 24th 9am-11am
Boxboro Regency
242 Adams Place Boxboro, MA
Cost is $75 per person
(a savings of $50 per person for onsite training)

A light breakfast will be served & each attendee will receive a resource guide

Seating is limited to 25 attendees, register HERE to confirm your place!

Presented by Julie Carroll, Director of HR & Business Development at Total HR Solutions, this training will…

REINFORCE values of professionalism and mutual respect
EXPLAIN the law concerning unlawful Harassment and Discrimination in the workplace
REVIEW guidelines and reporting procedures
INCREASE your knowledge and ability to recognize unlawful harassment
STRENGTHEN your ability to deal with unlawful harassment situations
FOSTER a culture in which inappropriate behavior is neither tolerated nor condoned

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Breaking News! Advantage to Support EMAC Supplement Payment

Great News! Advantage worked with the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) and we will be able to obtain the Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) Supplement tax amounts for first quarter 2018. After we file the Massachusetts wages on your behalf, the agency will provide us with your Supplement liability amount, if you have any.

Advantage will collect and remit your supplement liability amount if:

  • Advantage successfully filed your first quarter Massachusetts wages,
  • You designated Advantage as a third party administrator (TPA) for your company, and
  • You are subject to the EMAC Supplement Contribution

Note: If we’re already remitting SUI and EMAC payments on your behalf, we’ll be able to submit this payment as well.

We will collect the EMAC Supplement tax on or after April 20, 2018, and pay it on your behalf by the due date of April 30. Please make sure you have funds in your account on April 20.

For your convenience, click here for frequently asked questions about the EMAC Supplement tax.

If you have any questions, please contact your payroll specialist.

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IRS Releases Updated Withholding Calculator And Form W-4 For 2018

Wondering whether your 2018 paycheck will result in the right amount of taxes withheld for 2018? You can check it out yourself: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has finally released an updated Withholding Calculator which reflects changes under the new tax law.

You can find the new withholding calculator on the IRS website here.

To use the calculator, you’ll need your most recent pay stub from work, as well as a completed copy of your 2017 tax return. Remember, the new withholding rates will not affect your 2017 tax return (the one you’ll file in 2018). However, having a completed 2017 tax return is helpful when using the new withholding calculator. If you don’t have your 2017 tax return, you can refer to your 2016 tax return but the results may not be as accurate.

If the calculator indicates that you need to make changes to your withholding, you’ll do so using a form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. The IRS has now released an updated form W-4 for 2018 (downloads as a pdf). If you need to make changes to your withholding for 2018, complete and submit to your employer as soon as possible. You do not send the form W-4 to the IRS.

For more on how to complete your form W-4, click here.

“Following the major changes in the tax law, the IRS encourages employees to check their paychecks to help ensure they’re having the right amount of tax withheld for their personal situation,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter.

“Withholding issues can be complicated, and the calculator is designed to help employees make changes based on their personal financial situation,” Kautter said. “Taking a few minutes can help taxpayers ensure they don’t have too little – or too much – withheld from their paycheck.”

The IRS specifically encourages taxpayers who fall into the following groups to double-check their withholding:

  • Two-income families.
  • Taxpayers with two or more jobs at the same time or who only work for part of the year.
  • Taxpayers with children who claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit.
  • Taxpayers who itemized deductions in 2017.
  • High-income taxpayers and those with complex tax returns.

 

Earlier this year, the IRS officially released the new withholding tables. The new withholding tables are supposed to reflect changes under the new law, including increasing the standard deduction, removing personal exemptions, increasing the child tax credit, limiting or discontinuing certain deductions and changing the tax rates and brackets.

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DOL Announces New Standard for Unpaid Interns

OVERVIEW

On Jan. 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it would adopt a new standard for determining whether interns and students are “employees” who must be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The DOL clarified that, going forward, it would abandon its six-part test and instead adopt the “primary beneficiary” test used by federal courts.

The six-part test provides that an intern at a for-profit company is an employee unless all six factors of the test are met. The primary beneficiary test has a more flexible approach, focusing on whether the intern or the business benefits more from the relationship.

ACTION STEPS
  • Employers should review how the primary beneficiary test applies to interns at their organizations. The DOL has provided an updated fact sheet for employers to use.
  • Employers should also make sure that any unpaid intern programs primarily benefit their interns and not the company.
The Old Six-part Test

The six-part benefit test is very specific and allows for interns to be unpaid only if all of the following factors are met:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and, on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
The Primary Beneficiary Test

The primary beneficiary test looks at the “economic reality” nature of the employment relationship and includes seven factors to consider. However, unlike the six-part test, these factors provide only a reference frame to determine who is benefiting more from the intern-employer relationship.

The seven factors are:

  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
  2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

Not every factor must be met, and not all factors must be given the same weight during the analysis. Instead, the courts will consider these seven factors and evaluate whether, in the totality of the circumstances, the employer is benefiting more from the relationship than the intern is. When an employer is the primary beneficiary of the relationship, the intern is an employee for purposes of the FLSA. When the intern is the primary beneficiary, he or she is not considered an employee under the FLSA.

More Information

Please contact Total HR Solutions for more information about compliance with FLSA issues.

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Bank Holiday on Monday, February 19, 2018

This is a reminder that banks are closed on Monday, February 19, 2018, to observe Presidents’ Day; Advantage offices are open. If you normally report payroll on this day, please be prepared to reschedule your appointment when you report your next payroll.

  • If a February 19 check date is sent before 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 15, the employee direct deposit effective date will be Friday, February 16, 2018.
  • If a February 19 check date is sent after 7:00 p.m. ET from Thursday, February 15 to Monday, February 19, the employee direct deposit effective date will be Tuesday, January 20.

This information is based on the assumption that all direct deposit files are received by Advantage before 7:00 p.m. ET on the processing day. You may still process payroll the day before the check date.

Important:   Failure to adjust the processing day or time may result in employees not receiving direct deposit on the expected day.

If you or your employees have questions about when funds will post, please contact the bank, as Advantage has no control over when banks credit or debit funds to bank accounts.

If you have any questions, please contact your payroll specialist.

Sincerely,

The Specialists at Advantage

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IRS Announces 2018 Filing Season Opens January 29, Reminds Taxpayers About Delayed Refunds

Kelly Phillips Erb – Forbes

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that tax season will open on Monday, January 29, 2018. The IRS will begin accepting paper and electronic tax returns that day, with more than 155 million individual tax returns expected to be filed in 2018. This is a week later than had been widely reported.

Every year, taxpayers have questions about early filing. Many software companies and tax professionals will accept tax returns before opening day, January 29, 2018. That doesn’t mean that your tax return will be filed early. Those software companies and tax professionals will submit returns when IRS systems open.

Although the IRS will begin accepting both electronic and paper tax returns on January 29, 2018, paper tax returns will be processed later, in mid-February, as system updates continue. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically for faster refunds

The filing deadline to submit 2017 tax returns is April 17, 2018.  That’s because April 15 falls on a Sunday in 2018. That would normally result in a move to the following Monday (April 16, 2018). However, Emancipation Day falls on Monday, April 16 this year. Since that’s a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, the tax filing deadline will be pushed ahead for all individual taxpayers to Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

And even though it feels like extra time, it’s actually a shorter tax season. Because of the delayed start, the 2018 tax season will last just 79 days. In contrast, the 2017 tax season lasted 86 days. In 2017, the season started six days earlier (on January 23, 2017) and ran through April 18, 2017.

There’s another delay to keep in mind, too. As I reported in prior years, the law now requires the IRS to hold refunds tied to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15. There may be additional delays: factoring in weekends and the President’s Day holiday, the IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on February 27, 2018. That’s assuming that affected taxpayers opt for direct deposit and that there are no other issues with the tax return. Plan accordingly.

Remember that the rule which bars IRS from issuing refunds for taxpayers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February applies to the entire refund– even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC.

The IRS still anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Taxpayers can check out Where’s My Refund? on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go phone app for projected deposit dates.

For a refresher, you can check out the 2017 tax rates – the rates you’ll use to file your taxes in 2018 – here.

More information about tax season, including filing updates, will be available as January 29, 2018, approaches. Check back regularly for more information.

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LWC Rolls Out New Initiatives to Tackle Long-Term Delinquent Unemployment Taxes

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) is ramping up efforts to get employers with long-term, unpaid unemployment tax bills to settle their debts, including taking any federal income tax refunds due to the employer.

Letters will go out by the end of October to an estimated 8,000 employers with delinquent Louisiana unemployment taxes that are at least one year old and total more than $100. These letters serve as notifications of the LWC’s intent to submit their debt for offset through the federally mandated Treasury Offset Program (TOP). Employers have 60 days to pay the balance due, plus penalty and interest; request a review of LWC documentation of the unpaid taxes due; or provide the LWC with bankruptcy documentation, if applicable.

Reimbursable employers (i.e. non-profit and government employers who do not pay unemployment taxes but instead reimburse the Unemployment Trust Fund on a dollar-for-dollar basis for all unemployment benefits charged to the employer’s account for former employees) are not part of this effort. LWC is also excluding employers who are currently in compliance with an existing installment agreement, have a documented bankruptcy, or have a pending appeal regarding their tax debt.

TOP allows the LWC to take any of the following to help settle an employer’s tax debt:

• Income tax refunds

• Federal compensation, including military retiree pay

• Federal retirements

• Contractor and/or vendor payments

• Federal benefit payments, such as Social Security (excluding SSI) and Railroad Retirement (excluding tier 2) and Black Lung Part B benefits

The LWC has also enhanced its monthly delinquent tax notices mailed to employers to provide full details on all past due taxes, including those older than five years. Previously, the tax notices instructed employers to contact the LWC for the total amount due for years-old delinquent tax amounts.

Starting in November, the monthly delinquent tax notices will provide actual dollar amounts by quarter and year of the past due amounts, providing full disclosure to the employer of their tax responsibility. State law prohibits any type of forgiveness or amnesty of unpaid unemployment taxes, no matter how old the taxes date back.

“We took advantage of programming advancements to provide this greater transparency to employers in regard to their delinquent taxes,” explained Ava Dejoie, LWC executive director. The enhanced delinquent tax notice includes:

• Instructions on payment options

• Guidance on how to submit missing tax and wage notices, which will then be computed for an updated total of taxes due

• Contact information for LWC assistance

• Details on state statutes governing the payment of delinquent taxes and subsequent penalties and interest

• Itemized tax notice listing tax due, penalty, interest and total due by each year and quarter

“We at the Louisiana Workforce Commission take very seriously our responsibility to protect the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and ensure that all employers subject to paying unemployment taxes are held accountable,” said Dejoie.

Employers with questions about the federal TOP effort or the detailed delinquent tax notices can contact the LWC’s Employer Call Center at 225-326-6999 or toll-free at 1-866-783-5567, option 2, after selecting your preferred language.

About The Louisiana Workforce Commission

The Louisiana Workforce Commission is an agency of state government that administers programs designed to enhance workforce growth and provide family-sustaining jobs for Louisiana residents. The commission monitors employment, administers unemployment compensation and tax funds, provides training resources for employers and employees and oversees worker compensation benefits. The agency also gathers and supplies information on the labor market and occupational sectors in Louisiana.

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2017 FUTA Credit Reduction – How much will you owe?

The U.S. Department of Labor released the listing of FUTA Credit Reduction States for 2017. The standard FUTA rate is 6.0 percent on the first $7,000.00 of wages. Employers in most states will receive a credit of 5.4 percent against the rate, resulting in net tax rate of 0.6 percent; however, California and the Virgin Islands had loans with the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund that were still outstanding. As a result, these states will have their FUTA credit amount reduced for 2017 filing as a way to recover the funds still owed to repay these loans.

Employers in the following states and jurisdictions will have their credit reduced from 5.4 percent to 3.3 percent for 2017 making the FUTA tax rate 2.7 percent:

  • California
  • Virgin Islands

The FUTA credit reduction only applies to employers who pay SUI wages to California and the Virgin Islands All other employers will receive the full FUTA credit of 5.4 percent.

The following is a summary of all states with a 2017 credit reduction and their net FUTA rate:

State              Credit Reduction Percentage             Maximum Tax Increase Per Employee             2017 Net FUTA Rate
California                    2.1%                                                               $147.00                                                           2.7%
Virgin                           2.1%                                                               $147.00                                                           2.7%
Islands

For example, clients with a weekly frequency will have the amount they owe divided by three. Clients that are bi-weekly and semi-monthly will have the amount they owe divided by two. The client letters indicate the incremental billing, if applicable. This process will reduce client burden. Please contact Quality Assurance with requests for additional installment payment options.

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Compliance Alert: December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018 Local Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Updates

Effective December 31, 2017, covered employees in the following local jurisdictions will be subject to a new minimum wage rate.

The new minimum wage rates are listed below and linked to the applicable ordinance for additional details regarding coverage.  The links can be accessed by hovering over the text and clicking.

 

New York Jurisdictions:

 

Effective January 1, 2018, covered employees in the following local jurisdictions will be subject to a new minimum wage rate.  The new minimum wage rates are listed below and linked to the applicable ordinance for additional details regarding coverage.  The links can be accessed by hovering over the text and clicking.

Arizona Jurisdictions:

 

California Jurisdictions:

 

Maine Jurisdictions:

 

New Mexico Jurisdictions:

 

Washington Jurisdictions:

 

Paid Sick Leave Laws/Ordinances

The following paid sick leave rules are effective as of January 1, 2018 in the following jurisdictions.  Complete coverage requirements can be found in the linked laws/ordinances, which can be accessed by hovering over the text and clicking.

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