Webinar on Corona Virus and Payroll Issues

Don’t Miss Out! Register today for my special webinar/lecture on the Corona virus and the payroll related effects on Friday, April 10, 2020 from 10:00 am Pacific to 11:30 am Pacific. This 90-minute webinar  discusses the quickly changing regulations…federal and state…that the payroll department and payroll professionals must comply with as governments and businesses respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include:

Federal Regulations:
·         Families First Act
·         Cares Act
·         All New Pertinent Regulations Passed and Signed by the Webinar Date

State Updates On:
·         Tax Filing
·         Unemployment Insurance
·         Paid Sick Leave

Garnishment Updates:
·         Student Loans
·         Creditor Garnishments
·         Child Support
·         Federal Tax Levies

 

The price for this information packed webinar is $149.  As usual, our blog followers will receive a 10% discount by using coupon code CJYFRQA6 at checkout.

Corona Virus Update from DOL

Here is the latest updates from the Department of Labor’s website on the Corona Virus legislation:

On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) posted a temporary rule issuing regulations pursuant to this new law, effective April 1, 2020. For more information, see the DOL website  for fact sheets, Q&As, and posters.  The Posters are mandatory.

 

In addition, the DOL has:

Set up a Pandemic page set up on DOL website.

The DOL issued news release on its implementation of the payroll tax credits.

And finally, the CARES Act addresses many of the issues in the FFCRA but still waiting for clarification on what exactly it “changes” or “fixes” in the FFCRA from DOL. It does start the ball rolling on unemployment insurance. DOL issued an operating guidance to the states concerning unemployment insurance.

Upcoming Corona Virus Update Webinar

Register today for my special webinar/lecture on the Corona virus and the payroll related effects on Friday, April 10, 2020 from 10:00 am Pacific to 11:30 am Pacific. This 90-minute webinar  discusses the quickly changing regulations…federal and state…that the payroll department and payroll professionals must comply with as governments and businesses respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include:

 

 

Federal Regulations:
·         Families First Act
·         Cares Act
·         All New Pertinent Regulations Passed and Signed by the Webinar Date

State Updates On:
·         Tax Filing
·         Unemployment Insurance
·         Paid Sick Leave

Garnishment Updates:
·         Student Loans
·         Creditor Garnishments
·         Child Support
·         Federal Tax Levies

The price for this information packed webinar is $149.  As usual, our blog followers will receive a 10% discount by using coupon code CJYFRQA6 at checkout.

Coronavirus Update

As I posted in my last blog, many states as well as the federal government are making temporary changes to tax filing deadlines, unemployment insurance requirements and other matters during this pandemic.  The following is a recap of the latest updates that have crossed my desk this week:

Note:  I will be offering a webinar on the payroll related items occurring during this pandemic.  See info at bottom of blog for more details.

Federal: the U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor) announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act), signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020. For full details see IRS website’s Coronavirus webpage.

The following states are providing filing or deposit penalty relief or extending deadlines due to the Corona Virus:

 

Unemployment Insurance Update: The following states are waiving waiting times or making other temporary changes:

The following is provided by these states:

San Francisco, California: Workers and Families First Program will provide paid sick leave to impacted workers.

New York: Guaranteed sick leave for New Yorkers under mandatory or precautionary quarantine

I will be offering a webinar/lecture on major impacts that affect payroll professionals due to the pandemic.  It will be held on Friday, April 10, 2020 from 10 am to 11:30 am Pacific time.  More details will be available next week.

Corona Virus Update

The federal and state governments are focusing on providing either tax relief, lost wages relief or updates when employers are affected by the Corona Virus.  This may include delaying reporting or allowing for penalty relief.  It may also include mandatory sick pay, clarification on current sick pay mandates or changes to unemployment insurance qualifications. The following are some of the actions being taken by the IRS or states during this difficult time:

Internal Revenue Service: The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. This page will be updated as new information is available. This page includes information on (1) Deferring tax payments and (2) High deductible plans covering the pandemic.

So far, the following states are addressing the pandemic:

States Extending Filing Deadlines:

  • California: 60-day filing extension available
  • Maryland: Extend to June 1

State Unemployment and/or Disability:

The following states have suspended the waiting period for unemployment benefits for any employees affected by the Corona Virus: California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Washington.

Paid Sick Leave Updates or Guidance:

San Francisco: The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) has issued guidance regarding the use of San Francisco paid sick leave for situations involving the recent Coronavirus outbreak.

Colorado: Effective March 11, 2020, emergency rules temporarily require employers in certain industries to provide a small amount of paid sick leave (up to four days) to employees with flu-like symptoms while awaiting coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. The DLSS has a webpage dedicated to the emergency rules with further information that will be updated as necessary.

New Jersey: Workers may use sick leave, apply for TDI or apply for Family Leave Insurance due to the Corona Virus.

Washington: Workers who are sick with the virus and have a Certification of a Serious Health Condition form signed by a healthcare provider may be eligible for Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits. The ESD has a comparison guide and a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to find out which programs and benefits are available in various circumstances.

As more information comes in for the states, I will update this blog.

More DOL Opinion Letters Issued

The U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced that it issued two new opinion letters that address compliance issues related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  As a review, an opinion letter is an official, written opinion by the Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the person or entity that requested the letter. The opinion letters issued are:

  • FLSA2020-1: Addressing calculating overtime pay for a non-discretionary lump sum bonus paid at the end of a multi-week training period.
    • The background: the employer informs its employees in advance that they will be eligible to receive a lump sum bonus of $3,000 if they successfully complete ten weeks of training and agree to continue training for an additional eight weeks. You acknowledge that the bonus is nondiscretionary. The employee does not have to complete the additional eight weeks of training, however, to retain the lump sum bonus.
    • The opinion: As an initial matter, the lump sum bonus paid to your client’s employees must be included in the regular rate of pay as it is an inducement for employees to complete the ten-week training period. Because the employer pays the lump sum bonus to employees for completing the ten-week training and agreeing to additional training without having to finish the additional training, the lump sum bonus amount must be allocated to the initial ten-week training period. Based on the facts provided, it is appropriate for the employer to allocate the lump sum bonus of $3,000 equally to each week of the ten-week training period. Each week of the ten weeks counts equally in fulfilling the criteria for receiving the lump sum bonus, as missing any week (regardless of whether the employee worked overtime in that week) disqualifies the employee from receiving the lump sum bonus.
  • FLSA2020-2: Addressing whether per-project payments satisfy the salary basis test for exemption.
    • The background: the company employs educational consultants to provide services to schools and school districts throughout the country. These educational consultants are assigned to projects lasting various periods of time. The Department of Labor assumed that educational consultants meet the duties tests of the administrative or professional exemptions. The company will determine educational consultants’ compensation on a per-project basis regardless of the amount of time required to complete the project. The company will make payments for the project in “equal pre-determined installments” biweekly or monthly. The company provided two examples with the opinion request.
      • Example 1: for developing a new literacy curriculum, the educational consultant will receive a predetermined amount in 20 biweekly installments paid throughout the district’s academic year. That the amounts of these payments will not vary from week to week or month to month based on the number of hours worked by the consultant on the project and, for purposes here, the DOL presumed they will not vary based on the quality of the work performed. As a result, this payment structure satisfies the requirement that employees be paid a predetermined amount constituting all or part of the employee’s compensation” paid weekly or less frequently, provided the payments are not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed.
      • Example 2: the same educational consultant in example 1, is assigned to a second eight-week assignment (Project Two) while continuing to work on the original assignment. For completing the second project, in addition to payments received for work on the first project, the consultant will be paid $6,000 in four $1,500 biweekly installments, for a total of $5,500 per pay period during the eight weeks in which the projects overlap. The employer’s payments for the second project also satisfy the requirements as “extra” compensation under the regulations.
    • The Opinion: Both examples met the requirements for payments under the salary basis rule.

Lock In Letter Guidance Updated by IRS

The new Form W-4 just keeps on providing more and more info for us payroll professionals.  We now turn to handling lock-in letters.  The IRS has updated its FAQs to explain how to handle the lock-in letters using the new 2020 Form W-4.  As a quick review on the background of lock-in letters.

If the IRS determines that an employee does not have enough withholding, they will notify the employer to increase the amount of withholding tax by issuing a “lock-in” letter that specifies the withholding arrangement permitted for the employee. The employer will also receive a copy for the employee that identifies the withholding arrangement permitted and the process by which the employee can provide additional information to the IRS for purposes of determining the appropriate withholding arrangement. If the employee still works for for the employer, the employer must furnish the employee copy to the employee. If the employee NO LONGER WORKS for the employer, NO ACTION IS REQUIRED. However, if the employee should return to work within twelve (12) months, the employer should begin withholding income tax from the employee’s wages based on the withholding arrangement stated in this letter. The employee will be given a period of time before the lock-in rate is effective to submit for approval to the IRS a new Form W-4 and a statement supporting the claims made on the Form W-4 that would decrease federal income tax withholding. The employee must send the Form W-4 and statement directly to the IRS office designated on the lock-in letter. The employer must withhold tax in accordance with the lock-in letter as of the date specified in the lock-in letter, unless otherwise notified by the IRS. The employer will be required to take this action no sooner than 60 calendar days after the date of the lock-in letter. Once a lock-in rate is effective, an employer cannot decrease withholding unless approved by the IRS.

The new FAQs include:

  • how to handle revised W-4s after the lock-in letter is received
  • How to handle a modification letter
  • Handling employee self service portals and lock-in letter

The site still includes info on how to handle lock-in letters using the 2019 and prior forms.

 

IRS Issues Proposed Regs for Withholding

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have issued proposed regulations updating the federal income tax withholding rules to reflect changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and other legislation.

In general, the proposed regulations, available now in the Federal Register, are designed to accommodate the redesigned Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate, to be used starting in 2020, and the related tables and computational procedures in Publication 15-T, Federal Income Tax Withholding Methods. The proposed regulations and related guidance do not require employees to furnish a new Form W-4 solely because of the redesign of the Form W-4.

Employees who have a Form W-4 on file with their employer from years prior to 2020 generally will continue to have their withholding determined based on that form.

To assist with computation of income tax withholding, the redesigned Form W-4 no longer uses an employee’s marital status and withholding allowances, which were tied to the value of the personal exemption. Due to TCJA changes, employees can no longer claim personal exemptions. Instead, income tax withholding using the redesigned Form W-4 will generally be based on the employee’s expected filing status and standard deduction for the year.

The Form W-4 is also redesigned to make it easier for employees with more than one job at the same time or married employees who file jointly with their working spouses to withhold the proper amount of tax.

In addition, employees can choose to have itemized deductions, the child tax credit, and other tax benefits reflected in their withholding for the year. As in the past, employees can choose to have an employer withhold a flat-dollar extra amount each pay period to cover, for example, income they receive from other sources that is not subject to withholding. Under the proposed regulations, employees now also have the option to request that employers withhold additional tax by reporting income from other sources not subject to withholding on the Form W-4.

The proposed regulations permit employees to use the new IRS Tax Withholding Estimator (discussed in our previous blog)  to help them accurately fill out Form W-4. As in the past, taxpayers may use the worksheets in the instructions to Form W-4 and in Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, to assist them in filling out this form correctly.

The proposed regulations also address a variety of other income tax withholding issues. For example, the proposed regulations provide flexibility in how employees who fail to furnish Forms W-4 should be treated. Starting in 2020, employers must treat new employees who fail to furnish a properly completed Form W-4 as single and withhold using the standard deduction and no other adjustments. Before 2020, employers in this situation were required to withhold as if the employee was single and claiming zero allowances.

In addition, the proposed regulations provide rules on when employees must furnish a new Form W-4 for changed circumstances, update the regulations for the lock-in letter program, and eliminate the combined income tax and FICA (Social Security and Medicare) tax withholding tables.

Treasury and IRS welcome public comment on these proposed regulations. See the proposed regulations for details. Updates on TCJA implementation can be found on the Tax Reform page of IRS.gov.

Ring in the New Year with The Payroll Advisor

Each year payroll professionals attend year end webinars or live events to get the latest news on how to close out the old year and begin the new one.  This year I am offering something a little different than “year end”.   My next lecture will focus on just the new year.  So I am calling it “Ringing in the New Year–2020”.  In this 90-minute lecture I will cover all the latest for 2020.  This includes:

  • Completely new and revamped 2020 Form W-4
  • New DOL exempt rules
  • Minimum wage increases on the state level
  • New and upcoming sick leave and/or paid leave programs going into effect
  • 2020 Form W-2
  • 2020 Form 941
  • 2020 Form 1099-NEC

This different approach allows me to concentrate on the upcoming year and saves your time by not having to review information you may already know or will receive from other sources.

Our price for this information packed lecture is only $149. Click here to register.  Subscribers to Payroll 24/7 will receive a 20% discount if they register by Tuesday, December 3, 2019.  Not a subscriber to Payroll 24/7?  Try us out with your registration. If you register prior to Tuesday, December 3, 2019 you will receive a free 60-day subscription to this valuable payroll news service.

This lecture has been submitted to APA for 1.5 RCH credits.

Opinion Letters Issued

Despite all the “turmoil” that is going on over at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the work is still continuing. The DOL has issued three new opinion letters that address compliance issues related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). An opinion letter is an official, written opinion by the Department’s Wage and Hour Division on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the individual or entity that requested the letter.

The latest opinion letters are:

  • FMLA2019-2-A: Addressing whether attending a Committee on Special Education meeting to discuss a child’s Individualized Education Program qualifies as FMLA leave;
  • FLSA2019-11: Addressing the application of the section 7(k) overtime exemption to public agency employees engaged in both fire protection and law enforcement activities; and
  • FLSA2019-12: Addressing the employment status of volunteer reserve deputies who perform paid extra duty work for third parties.

Be sure to keep up with the latest rule changes and opinion letters from the DOL with a subscription to Payroll 24/7.  Only $149 per year for all the latest payroll news right to your inbox.