Corona Virus Update

States are working fast and furious to get out their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Since my last update blog, Connecticut, Hawaii and Indiana are among the states that have either released or updated the FAQs on their websites with new information on the latest COVID-19 measures.

Some states are offering tax relief in terms of delaying either unemployment insurance payments or withholding tax deposits.  These include: Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota and Texas.  However, Arkansas and Colorado, at this time, are not offering extensions for payments or deposits of withholding taxes.

When it comes to unemployment claims, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont are not charging an employer’s account for SUI benefits claims related to the COVID-19 emergency.

Need more info on the latest for the Corona Virus pandemic and payroll related items?  Today is the last day to register for my webinar tomorrow on all things payroll related to COVID-19 including the Families First Act, the CARES Act (and tax credits), state updates on filing and tax relief and garnishment updates including IRS tax levies and student loans.  Use coupon code BBTK7FCJ at checkout to receive a 10% discount off the $149 registration price.

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.

Register Today for Our Next Lecture and Receive a 10% Discount

Our next lecture Payroll Lecture Series 102: Multistate Employees: Taxes & Wage Hour Law & Garnishments…Oh My! will be held on Monday, March 30, 2020 from 10 am Pacific to Noon Pacific. This webinar/lecture will cover the difficult areas for compliance when processing payroll for employees who live in one state and work in another or who work in two or more states.  This lecture includes:

  • How to determine state withholding liability
  • Who is a resident
  • How reciprocal agreements affect taxation of wages
  • Resident and nonresident taxation policies
  • The four factor test for state unemployment insurance
  • Income and unemployment taxation of Fringe benefits
  • What wage and hour laws must be followed
  • How to handle income and unemployment insurance taxation for employees working in multiple states
  • How working in multiple states could affect withholding for garnishments
  • Withholding requirements when an employee is in a state temporarily
  • Which states require the use of their own Withholding Allowance Certificate, which states allow either theirs or the Form W-4, and which states don’t have a form
  • Reporting wages for multistate employees on Form W-2

We are an APA approved provider for 2020. This lecture has been submitted to the APA for 2.0 RCHs.  As with all my lectures, my subscribers will receive a 10% discount by using the coupon code EFVMPZC9 at checkout.  But you must register before March 25, 2020 to receive the discount.

Our Next Webinar/Lecture…Multistate Employees

Our next lecture Payroll Lecture Series 102: Multistate Employees: Taxes & Wage Hour Law & Garnishments…Oh My! will be held on Monday, March 30, 2020 from 10 am Pacific to Noon Pacific. This webinar/lecture will cover the difficult areas for compliance when processing payroll for employees who live in one state and work in another or who work in two or more states.  This lecture includes:

  • How to determine state withholding liability
  • Who is a resident
  • How reciprocal agreements affect taxation of wages
  • Resident and nonresident taxation policies
  • The four factor test for state unemployment insurance
  • Income and unemployment taxation of Fringe benefits
  • What wage and hour laws must be followed
  • How to handle income and unemployment insurance taxation for employees working in multiple states
  • How working in multiple states could affect withholding for garnishments
  • Withholding requirements when an employee is in a state temporarily
  • Which states require the use of their own Withholding Allowance Certificate, which states allow either theirs or the Form W-4, and which states don’t have a form
  • Reporting wages for multistate employees on Form W-2

We are an APA approved provider for 2020. This lecture has been submitted to the APA for 2.0 RCHs.  As with all my lectures, my subscribers will receive a 10% discount by using the coupon code EFVMPZC9 at checkout.  But you must register before March 25, 2020 to receive the discount.

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.

The Most Common Mistakes People Make With Payroll and How to Avoid Them on a Global Scale

I have a guest blogger today who is addressing general issues for a global payroll.  I thought you would find it very informative. It is submitted by Lingappa Amiyappa, General Manager–Payroll Operations, Paybooks Technologies India Pvt. Ltd. Their website is www.paybooks.in. 

Every business which has employees must have a process in place to handle payroll, deductions, paying taxes to the state and central government, on time. The payroll process must work like a well-oiled engine – it is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of running a business but the most important. Not to mention that when mistakes happen, then the impact on a business can be bad.

The good thing is that most of the common errors which crop up during processing can be avoided by planning well, getting the right tools, and hiring the right people for the job. Training on an ongoing basis will also help payroll specialists keep up with the changes in the tax structure, learn how to catch mistakes early, avoid or fix them as needed.

That said, here is a look at some of the common payroll mistakes and how to avoid them.

  1. Incomplete records: This is one of the major reasons for mistakes in payroll. Though the requirements vary from country to country, employers are required to maintain employee records for multiple years. These should include hours worked, rate of payment, date of disbursement, etc. Having incomplete and less information like misspelt names, wrong ID numbers, etc. can result in penalties as it takes many man-hours to fix these problems.
  2. Incorrect employee classification: With more temporary employees, contractors, and consultants becoming part of the workforce, it is essential for a company to keep proper records. Proper classification makes it easier to send out paychecks as well as determine tax reporting.
  3. Missed deadlines: Since payroll activity is carried out regularly, it is essential that the payroll team marks the calendar for reporting deposits and paying payroll taxes to the central and state governments on time.
  4. Tax-related forms not sent: All employees, especially contractors must receive Form 16s every quarter so that they can file their tax returns. In the process of trying to do payroll and send out information, payroll teams have missed sending these forms out.
  5. Wrong calculations on overtime payments: Companies have guidelines in place on determining overtime pay. If it is not calculated properly, then it can cause problems and unhappy employees. This can happen if the employee classification is wrong. In some cases, the employees don’t get the overtime payment they are entitled to.
  6. Overdependence on software: There are excellent software products which are used to do payroll activities. As always, results depend on the person putting in the information. In the process of trying to do things quickly, some information gets left out and subsequent calculations are incorrect. The software can prompt the user for information, but this may not always be the case.
  7. Unsaved payroll records: Even though requirements vary from state to state, every company should save payroll records for a minimum of 5 to 6 years.
  8. Lack of confidentiality: Payroll teams should not share private and sensitive information with other employees as this can cause disagreements. Only senior managers and people in the payroll department can have access to this information.
  9. Inadequate personnel: Payroll teams should have enough people to carry out related tasks. When there is just one person to do the job and he/she falls sick, the work comes to a stop and causes delays. Not just that, it is always sensible to have back-up systems which can be used in case of computer failure.

 Tips on avoiding errors while doing payroll

 There are many things a payroll processor can do to avoid the errors listed above. Including the following tips into the payroll process will help you note and avoid errors before they creep in. A little care and attention go a long way in making the process fast, accurate and easy.

  • Getting the right tools – Don’t want payroll mistakes disrupting your company and employees? Do some research and find the right payroll and HRIS packages. These must be integrated so that the HRIS manages vital employee information like ID numbers, bank account numbers, wages, hours worked, deductions etc. and these can be used by the payroll system every month to pay wages/salaries. Payroll systems, when synced with the HRIS, will automate tedious tasks. Payroll software does critical tasks such as file taxes, distribute paychecks, automate leaves, etc.
  • Stay current on information – Many payroll errors occur because payroll processors don’t have enough or the most updated information. As laws and tax codes change frequently, it is important for them to stay updated. This is even more important if the organization has a global presence. Requiring payroll admins to do regular checks on employee status and other information can reduce error rate drastically.
  • Analyzing Reports – Payroll software have a reports feature and generating one before sending out paychecks can cut down on mistakes. Getting the following reports will reduce error rate – deductions, payroll register and company’s cash requirements.

If payroll with errors has already been processed, fix it by reporting the error to the tax authorities. Your company may have to pay penalties, but it could get worse if the problem is not fixed. In case of minor errors, you could do one or all of the following:

  • Cancel the current payroll and reissue once updates are done
  • Run payroll manually in addition and adjust only for those employees whose payroll has errors
  • Ensure that corrections have been made so that they don’t occur in the next payroll cycle

Summary

Once payroll errors have been noticed, figuring out where they are and fixing them will ensure a smooth process every pay period. Processing payroll is not the easiest job considering the number of things that must be correct. Incorrect or late payroll can have a big effect on employee morale, so it is important to do it right every time.

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.