W-2 Employee

Boxed in by Box 12 on the W-2

Another update from the Jungle…

unnamedMaryann handles payroll questions for her employer.  She and her coworkers have been scrambling for a couple of years to ensure they comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Last year was all about finding a software program that would allow the company to track the hours of its temporary employees.

This year, Maryann is looking at box 12 on the W-2. That’s the box where employers need to plug in the cost of the medical plan for the employee.  Filling in this information is mandatory only for employers who filed at least 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year, meaning in 2013.  Maryann’s company filed 170 W-2’s in 2013, so they aren’t required to complete box 12 for the 2014 tax year.

She knows that this January her company will issue 200 W-2’s covering the 2014 tax year.  She thinks that number will rise to 250 during 2015.  Maryann wants to get a head start on figuring out box 12 after some of the past fiascos in trying to comply with the ACA.

What should Maryann consider?

  1. Maryann knows that the “cost” or “value” of health coverage refers to the premium paid for medical coverage in the health plan, known as “major medical”. She needs to verify what other costs, such as FSA contributions and dental and vision premiums, may need to be included.
  2. Maryann can consult her company’s CPA firm for assistance on completing box 12.
  3. Maryann can do some research in the ACA section of the IRS website during her spare time.

Update:  According to the IRS website, no new guidance has been issued in the past year. As a result, reporting the cost of the employee medical plan in Box 12 is required only for employers who filed 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year.  Employers who filed less than 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year may voluntarily report the medical plan cost in Box 12.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

 

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Outside Employment

unnamedKelly is glad to be back at work after a couple of weeks of family togetherness at the holidays. A few more days of vacation and she’d be ready to disown her parents and her in-laws, write the kids out of the will and talk to a divorce lawyer about her husband’s fate. It’s good to be back in the office where her job as HR Director suddenly seems simple.

Of course, that happy mood wears off before her first cup of coffee is finished. She’s still sorting through her email in-box when the company president barges into her office. He’s called a meeting to discuss a problem employee.

Kelly refills her coffee mug, sighs, and trudges to the president’s corner office to join the chief information officer and the CFO. The CIO explains that a misdirected phone call to her key lieutenant uncovered proof that Dan is running a side business. Dan is an IT department employee.

The misdirected phone call is from an individual who says he outsourced his company’s IT department to Dan. A quick investigation reveals that Dan has a personal IT business complete with a website advertising the same services he does for his employer. Dan has helpfully listed his company-issued cell phone number as the contact number for his side business.

The company president wants to fire Dan immediately, preferably by firing squad in the parking lot. The CIO and CFO also want to fire Dan but are worried about delicate negotiations on an IT contract. Dan has a small, but critical part to play in those negotiations. If Dan is fired he might take revenge by trying to screw up those negotiations. The management team looks at Kelly for her recommendation.

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What’s best for the team?

What should Kelly recommend to the management team?

  1. She can agree with the company president that Dan should be fired immediately, but without the firing squad since that would create a mess in the parking lot, not to mention violating company employment policies.
  2. She can ask the CIO if there is a replacement for Dan so that he can be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the negotiations.
  3. She can suggest that they proceed as usual, keeping the matter confidential until after the IT contract negotiations conclude and then fire Dan.

In the actual situation, the company decided to go with the third option because there was no replacement option. Immediately after the IT contract negotiations ended, the employee was fired with a note that he would never be eligible for rehire.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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I’m Not His Employee

Another update from the Jungle….
image011Addison works for Rob, who has a consulting business. (We met Rob in last week’s post.) The work is sporadic and project-based but she likes it that way because she’s a free spirit. Addison worked for large corporations for many years and is happy to be on her own now.

She does project-based work for several businesses, including Rob’s, and also has a few clients of her own. She dislikes sales and prospecting for clients because she prefers to focus on the work. She likes working for Rob because he pays quickly and the projects allow her plenty of scope for imagination.

Today when she stopped by Rob’s office to discuss the next project, she found him in a strange mood and slightly hung over from overindulging in Gentleman Jack. Rob began talking about financial problems. At first Addison thought he was telling her that he was insolvent. Then she realized he was talking about some new policy of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
image015The DOL recently said that it would no longer use the “control” test to determine if a worker is an independent contractor (1099 worker) or an employee (W-2 worker). Instead, the DOL plans to use an “economic reality” test. This new test has a number of factors but can be summed up by saying that if a worker is economically dependent on the employer, then the worker is a W-2 and not a 1099.

Addison accepts Rob’s offer of a shot of Gentleman Jack, although she prefers Buffalo Trace, and they sit in a gloomy silence as they contemplate what the new test means for each of them. Addison dreads the idea that she could again be classified as a W-2 because she likes being free to work at her pace and only on things she enjoys doing.

What should Addison do next?

  1. She can explain to Rob that she has other clients in addition to the work she does for him and so she thinks that she truly is an independent contractor.
  2. She can incorporate her business now that she has the money to do so rather than continuing to operate as a d/b/a. Incorporating is additional proof that she is running her own business.
  3. She can wait to make any changes until she has more information.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Download my FREE eBook today! Click here! 

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She’s Not My Employee

Another update from the Jungle….
image008Rob has a small consulting business that does project-based work. That means Rob needs a flexible work force that can easily gear up when there are lots of clients, but can also gear down when projects are few.

Rob relies on a group of individuals that he classifies as independent contractors. For each project, Rob explains what the client wants, the deadlines that must be met, and the scope of work. The worker can accept or reject any project. Rob’s been happy with his flexible work force.

At a recent networking event, Rob heard that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has decided to ditch its old “control” test for deciding if a worker is an independent contractor (1099) or an employee (W-2). Instead the DOL will use an “economic reality” test. Rob does some quick research at www.dol.gov/whd and finds the document outlining this new test. What he reads makes him reach for a bottle of Gentleman Jack.

After a couple of stiff drinks, Rob thinks he understands the main points of this new test. The
image010economic reality test says that a worker who is economically dependent on an employer is an employee and not an independent contractor. Rob doesn’t know if his workers are economically dependent on him. He uses them part-time and always believed that they did work for other consulting businesses.

Rob sees that the new test has several factors. The factor that most worries Rob is the one that says if the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business, then the worker is a W-2 and not a 1099 worker. Rob knows that his consulting business depends on completing projects for his clients which requires the use of skills that his independent contractors have.

After another shot of Gentleman Jack, Rob does some worst case scenario calculations of what will happen if his workers must be converted to W-2’s. He realizes immediately that it wouldn’t be financially possible to convert all of them to employees.

What are Rob’s options?

  1. He can choose a couple of the independent contractors that have the broadest range of skills and offer to convert them to W-2’s who work full-time for him. All the other workers would no longer be eligible to work on his company’s projects.
  2. He can talk to his CPA about cash flow and tax strategies for dealing with the new economic reality test.
  3. He can continue business as usual, including drinking more Gentleman Jack, while he waits to see what DOL will do.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Download my FREE eBook today! Click here! 

Click here to join the HR Compliance Jungle today.

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Ignorance May Not Be Bliss

Another update from the Jungle…
image012Bill runs a small tech company with a group of bright, energetic young web designers. (His techies shouldn’t be confused with Trekkies, although many of them are Star Trek and Star Wars fans.) Bill’s techies provide their own laptops, iPads and cell phones. Some of the techies have other clients but most of them work exclusively for Bill.

Bill rents space in a renovated factory where he can meet with clients and with his techies to discuss projects. His clients think the location is cool because it’s a center for several IT startups.  His techies like it because next door is a coffee shop with plenty of dark roast coffee, a necessary ingredient in the creative process of the techies.

Bill insists that his techies work at his office location at least once a week so that he can monitor progress on specific client projects. Bill has always treated his techies as independent contractors rather than W-2 employees. The techies prefer to be paid as 1099’s because it gives them a sense of freedom as they work on their own schedule.

Recently, one of the techies told Bill that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has redefined who is an independent contractor.  Based on this new definition all the techies should probably be reclassified as employees rather than independent contractors. But this techie is a bit of a weirdo who shows up occasionally dressed like Spock and tells clients to “live long and prosper” so Bill’s not sure he believes him.

What are Bill’s options?

  1. He can continue his existing practice of classifying the techies as independent contractors since this classification has not been challenged in the past.
  2. He can take a quick look at the DOL website to see if he can find information about a new definition of “independent contractor”.
  3. He can ask for professional help in figuring out whether his techies are truly independent contractors or are actually employees.

A few years ago, a client faced this issue and chose to continue classifying its web designers as independent contractors. The client also declined to hire an attorney to obtain a legal opinion on the matter. Ignorance may not bliss. It generally costs less to hire an employment law attorney to provide a legal opinion on the issue than wing it and end up paying penalties if the IRS or DOL decides workers were misclassified.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

Download my FREE eBook today! Click here!

Click here to join the HR Compliance Jungle.

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Classifying An Evolving Workforce.

Another update from the HR jungle…
image010Tom owns a construction business doing renovations and remodels. In the early days he classified all his workers as independent contractors. All the workers had years of experience, brought their own tools and Tom mostly just matched a worker with a homeowner. The worker did the job and Tom billed the homeowner.

As the years have gone by and his revenue has increased, Tom rented warehouse space with an office and storage space for equipment and supplies. The business now owns most of the tools and equipment used on the job, some of it donated by older workers who retired.

Tom also switched from experienced workers (too many retired on him) to hiring inexperienced workers. He pairs the young workers with an experienced older worker for training purposes. The younger workers generally use the tools and equipment owned by the business. All this means is that Tom is beginning to wonder if his old independent contractor classification still fits his workforce.

What are Tom’s options?

  1. He can continue classifying his workers as independent contractors and hope for the best.
  2. He can hire an HR consultant to help him do some general review of the IRS and DOL criteria for differentiating independent contractors (1099’s) from employees (W-2’s). Sometimes the facts make it obvious which classification applies.
  3. He can retain an employment law attorney to provide a legal opinion on whether his workforce consists of 1099’s or W-2’s if the facts are unclear and he wants added assurance of his legal obligations.

The above scenario is a composite of several actual situations faced by prospective and actual clients. In those situations, the prospective client chose the first option and the clients chose the second option. I recommended that one of the clients move directly to the third option and they retained an attorney. If your company is struggling with this issue, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor may be able to help.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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Boxed in by Box 12 on the W-2

Another update from the HR jungle….
image013Maryann handles payroll questions for her employer. She and her coworkers have been scrambling for a couple of years to ensure they comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last year was all about finding a software program that would allow the company to track the hours of its temporary employees.

This year, Maryann is looking at box 12 on the W-2. That’s the box where employers need to plug in the cost of the medical plan for the employee. Filling in this information is mandatory only for employers who filed at least 250 W-2’s in the previous tax year, meaning in 2013. Maryann’s company filed 170 W-2’s in 2013, so they aren’t required to complete box 12 for the 2014 tax year.

She knows that this January her company will issue 200 W-2’s covering the 2014 tax year. She thinks that number will rise to 250 during 2015. Maryann wants to get a head start on figuring out box 12 after some of the past fiascos in trying to comply with the ACA.

What should Maryann consider?

  1. Maryann knows that the “cost” or “value” of health coverage refers to the premium paid for medical coverage in the health plan, known as “major medical”. She needs to verify what other costs, such as FSA contributions and dental and vision premiums, may need to be included.
  2. Maryann can consult her company’s CPA firm for assistance on completing box 12.
  3. Maryann can do some research in the ACA section of the IRS website during her spare time.

Need help with HR issues? Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff when the policies are implemented.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Visit us: http://www.complianceriskadvisor.com/

Are My Guys 1099’s or W-2’s?

Another update from the HR Jungle….

Otis runs a lawn care business and has a small staff of permanent employees. During the summer months he hires extra workers as his work load increases. Many of these extra workers take other jobs because Otis doesn’t offer full-time employment.

Otis always treated these extra workers as independent contractors and issued a 1099 to them. As 1099’s, these workers are self-employed and responsible for all employment taxes. Many of these workers don’t want to be considered employees of Otis’ company because they like the bigger paychecks they get now.

Last week one of the temporary summer workers told Otis he talked to a friend who knows someone who says he (the summer worker) should be a W-2 employee.

What should Otis do next?

1. He should review the factors used by the IRS and the U.S. Dept. of Labor to determine if a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Basically, the more control over how and when the job is done, the more likely the worker is a W-2 employee.
2. If an initial review indicates the summer workers should be re-classified as W-2 employees, Otis should immediately work with his payroll service to reclassify the workers as employees.
3. If Otis isn’t sure how to classify the summer workers based on his initial review, he should seek legal advice on how to classify the workers.
4. He should seek legal advice on the tax consequences of misclassifying W-2’s and 1099’s.

There is no bright line test dividing 1099 and W-2 workers; it depends on the total circumstances. Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help Otis do the initial review of the factors and gather the information needed by the attorney who will give a legal opinion to Otis.

Join the HR Compliance Jungle today. Click here!

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