benefits

IRS extends deadline for 1095 for 2016 tax season #ACA

acaimage_zpsheza1g8u

Are you hoping that ACA will just go away — probably a bad idea. If you are not already prepared for the upcoming filings, you may want to start working on it pronto! Good news — the IRS has extended the deadline for providing 1095 forms to employees for the 2016 tax season.  Mark your calendars – the new date is March 2, 2017.

Here are some other important dates and activities that you should be aware of:

  • The IRS will begin levying fines in December for the 2015 tax season;
  • Subsidy notifications will increase in February (giving you about 30 days to respond by the time you receive the notification);
  • The 1095 forms will be due to employees by March 2;
  • And the 1094 will be due to the IRS March 31

A few more deets:

  •  Regardless of the election, ACA reporting deadlines and penalties are still very much a reality – employers must continue business as usual and comply with the reporting requirements or face a penalty. Employers that choose to ignore the reporting requirements are viewed as having a “willful disregard” for the requirements and are subject to a fine of $530 for each 1095-C they fail to deliver, uncapped. (YIKES!)
  • Because employers have been given an extension for sending 1095 forms to employees, the IRS will likely be less lenient on assessing fines for late forms. (YIKES!)
  • The funding mechanism for the premium tax credits (which cost the government $1.4T in 2015 and 2016 combined) is the penalties which the government determines in part through the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C. Therefore, the ACA reporting by employers through the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C is necessary to determine which employers owe a penalty to fund the premium tax credits.
  • It is unlikely that immediate changes will or can be made to ACA before reporting deadlines. (so dude, if you’ve been putting it off, just do it!)

And here are a couple of other things to put into perspective

  • The new Administration will likely need to have  a replacement for the ACA before they can repeal it, and there is not replacement plan in place, which would likely take years to develop and implement. Even if they want to roll back to “pre-ACA” I think that might be hard to do since there are people who have enrolled and are using the exchanges — at any rate, they need a plan and have time to execute and administer it.
  • The president cannot unilaterally repeal the ACA, it requires Congressional approval.

So my two cents, and that’s really all its worth: if you have waited until the last minute to get this started and in place hoping that it would just all go away — you may get your wish, but not likely before the IRS deadlines 😦  I’d recommend finding a consultant to partner with who can help you get up to speed quickly — it might cost you, but I don’t think that you want to pay the IRS fines instead.

Making the HR connection, yours,

Advertisements

We Should Applaud NY Mets’ Daniel Murphy for taking Paternity Leave

So many of you know, I’m not a “big” sports fan (Horns, tennis, boxing, and MMA is about all I follow .. and poorly at that), but we’ve got a big story with some HR implications coming out of sports news.

photo credit: Yahoo! Sports

Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy put fatherhood ahead of baseball, and now, some outraged New York Sports radio hosts are outraged.

Since 2011, Major League Baseball has allowed players up to three days paternity leave, but some outraged New York Sports radio hosts say that when you’re making millions, “one day off is plenty.”

“All right, one day, I understand,” said WFAN morning host Mike Francesa. “In the old days they didn’t do that. One day, go see the baby be born, and then come back. You’re a Major League Baseball player — you can hire a nurse!”

“You get your a** back to your team and you play baseball,” added WFAN’s Craig Carton. “That’s my take on it. There’s nothing you can do anyway. You’re not breastfeeding the kid.

Read more: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2014/04/mets-player-daniel-murphy-s-paternity-leave-causes-controversy-101816.html#ixzz2xv5D3JLk

You know me. I’m going to have to throw out my typical “girl in HR” catch-phrase, “seriously?!?” Three days is hardly extraneous… and I find the other comments just offensive. Just because a man doesn’t birth the baby doesn’t mean that he has any less right to have bonding time with the child. These radio hosts views are just off, imho. Do they think its ludicrous for the man to be in the delivery room, to go to parenting class — I border that their comments might lead someone who doesn’t know them better that they think that birth and raising children is “woman work.” We’ve moved SO far past that.

photo credit: bavia.com

So stepping off the soap-box and let’s make the HR connection. Paternity leave. In the US, women AND men can take up to 12 weeks off to care for a newborn if they qualify for FMLA leave. Some companies go beyond that and have added additional maternity and paternity benefits to help encourage employees to take that time off by helping to eliminate some of the financial burdens of staying home to care and bond for a child. I wish I could put my hands on some updated data, but the trend is that many men don’t take full advantage of benefits that may be available to them — now the reasons for that can be anything from financial to thoughts on their place on raising children — and every combination in between.  I think that one thing that we can do in HR is to help put programs in place that will help facilitate and encourage expecting parents, regardless of gender, to take the time off that they need… if they want to. We should also applaud and speak positively about examples, such as Daniel Murphy, of men who are taking the time off and using their benefits. Parental leave is not a “working woman’s issue” anymore… its an issue of work-life balance and that is bigger than either gender alone.  We don’t need to force the choice, but provide options for people to use and make their own decisions — and don’t talk crap or be negative when people take advantage of benefits afforded to them.

As an aside, on this story Daniel Murphy takes high road while Terry Collins fires back after Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiasion question Mets’ paternity leave from NY Daily News there is a poll for readers to partipate in that asks: Do you think Mike Francesa is over the line questioning Daniel Murphy’s paternity leave? When I took it the results showed 86% YES and 14% NO.

I’m interested to see where the story develops — from a work-life, parental leave, and HR perspective — I’m sure that the story will continue to be popular over the next few days or week — but let’s try to keep the underlying point of the story developing and out front.

Making the HR connection, yours,

 

 

 

Want to see more of the story — here’s a few more links and a videos:

 

Weekend Shopping for Shoes and Benefit Plans

photo credit kenteegardin

As an HR professional I’ve spent a number of years helping to design benefit plans and countless hours explaining to employees (and sometimes even friends and family members) how they work. You’d probably think that making decisions for my own would be a piece of cake — but I actually go through all the same advice that I give to others when thinking about choosing what plan is best for you. Sometimes your employer doesn’t give you options, in which case, the decision is pretty easy :), but other times you may be presented with 2, 3, 4, 5, or maybe even 6 or more plans to choose from. Sidenote: I once worked for a company that did a “choose your own” plan which had dozens of combos and was great if you understood the plans and was hard to explain if you didn’t.

When you are looking at what plan is best for you, if you have a choice, you should make a look at the financial costs and what are your comfortable with. This is for an employer offered plans, although I’d like to think that this would still apply for any other medical plans you’d consider.

From A Financial Perspective Think About:

  1. What have you used your plan in the past? What kind of regular medical visits, costs for regular prescriptions, regular treatments have you had and plan to continue to have?
  2. Do you have any planned medical expenses in the next year? A pregnancy, a back surgery? Are you very active and likely to have an injury, ie twist an ankle playing soccer? (You should also a HSA – Health Savings Account or FSA – Flexible Spending Account if you have expenses that you know you’ll incur)
  3. What do you spend at “point of service” — how much would you spend for a doctor’s visit or a prescription on the plan?
  4. What is the deductible and out of pocket maximum’s for the plan — what does the worse case look like?
  5. Are your doctors in the network or do you have a doctor that you love and want to go to no matter what? Its always cheaper to stay in the network, but if you have a doctor or specialist you love, are you on a plan that allows you go see them out of network and are you comfortable with the cost?
  6. How much are you paying per pay period? People often forget about this cost since it comes out of their paycheck but its part of understanding what you are paying towards your medical costs.

From a Usability Perspective Think About:

  1. What do you want to pay at point of service if you need a doctor’s visit or a prescription — are you okay to pay the full cost of a prescription if you are on a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) until you reach the deductible or are you more comfortable with a co-pay? Are you considering using a Medical Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
  2. Do you have any life changes planned? Are you getting married, divorced, maybe changes with your custody agreements? If so, will that plan work after those changes are made?
  3. Do you have enough insurance and/or savings? Do you have another medical insurance policy that you’ll have to coordinate benefits with?

If you have a spouse, domestic partner, or dependents

  1. Think about how they use the plan and are there in-network doctors and providers in their area if they do not live near you?
  2. Do they have an option for health insurance at their job? If so, how do the plans compare? Is it better for you to be on one plan or for each to be on their own?
  3. If you have a domestic partner and they are on your insurance, keep in mind the IRS rules for an HSA — you can’t use your account to pay for their expenses so they’ll need to set up their own HSA and for them to start their savings or put away money for their medical expenses.

When you are looking at what plan is best for you, if you have a choice, you should make a look at the financial costs and what are your comfortable with. This is for an employer offered plans, although I’d like to think that this would still apply for any other medical plans you’d consider.

From A Financial Perspective Think About:

  1. What have you used your plan in the past? What kind of regular medical visits, costs for regular prescriptions, regular treatments have you had and plan to continue to have?
  2. Do you have any planned medical expenses in the next year? A pregnancy, a back surgery? Are you very active and likely to have an injury, i.e. twist an ankle playing soccer? (You should also a HSA – Health Savings Account or FSA – Flexible Spending Account if you have expenses that you know you’ll incur)
  3. What do you spend at “point of service” — how much would you spend for a doctor’s visit or a prescription on the plan?
  4. What is the deductible and out of pocket maximum’s for the plan — what does the worse case look like?
  5. Are your doctors in the network or do you have a doctor that you love and want to go to no matter what? Its always cheaper to stay in the network, but if you have a doctor or specialist you love, are you on a plan that allows you go see them out of network and are you comfortable with the cost?
  6. How much are you paying per pay period? People often forget about this cost since it comes out of their paycheck but its part of understanding what you are paying towards your medical costs.

From a Usability Perspective Think About:

  1. What do you want to pay at point of service if you need a doctor’s visit or a prescription — are you okay to pay the full cost of a prescription if you are on a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) until you reach the deductible or are you more comfortable with a co-pay? Are you considering using a Medical Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
  2. Do you have any life changes planned? Are you getting married, divorced, maybe changes with your custody agreements? If so, will that plan work after those changes are made?
  3. Do you have enough insurance and/or savings? Do you have another medical insurance policy that you’ll have to coordinate benefits with?

If You Have a Spouse, Domestic Partner, or Dependents

  1. Think about how they use the plan and are there in-network doctors and providers in their area if they do not live near you
  2. Do they have an option for health insurance at their job? If so, how do the plans compare? Is it better for you to be on one plan or for each to be on their own?
  3. If you have a domestic partner and they are on your insurance, keep in mind the IRS rules for an HSA — you can’t use your account to pay for their expenses so they’ll need to set up their own HSA and for them to start their savings or put away money for their medical expenses.

So while I had a fabulous time on Saturday with a friend shopping for shoes and holiday gifts, today I sat down chatted with my sig-o about what 2014 holds. Not fun — it is kinda weird and sometimes even uncomfortable to have those discussions sometimes, but you’re talking about your future, your finances, life events, and what ifs — but its important to think about and get a plan (you know me and my plan).
I’m leaning towards a high deductible plan but still not sure — but will come back and let you know what I picked and some of the reasons why — or at least what things I considered.

Making the HR connection, yours,

PS. I’m not a tax adviser and can’t tell you what is the best plan for you, but happy to give you some resources for you to think about and to ask your tax professional or your HR person.

26% of U.S. women still choose not to work… and maybe we should be okay with that

I came across an article titled” Why 26% of U.S. women still choose not to work”this morning while I was doing my morning rounds of the news. Here is the link to the full article, but here are the highlights:

  • Sixty years ago, American women began heading off to the workplace in droves. But in the last couple of decades, that trend has completely stalled out
  • In 1950, only 37% of women ages 25-54 participated in the labor force — meaning they had a job or were looking for one. The number rose rapidly, climbing to 74% by 1990
  • Today, still only 74% of women are active in the U.S. workforce, little changed in the last 25 years, and trailing far behind many other developed countries.
  • As of last year, America ranked 27th out of 37 developed countries for women’s labor force participation, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
  • The United States remains the only major industrialized country in the world that doesn’t mandate some sort of paid parental leave
  • Since the economic downturn in 2007, births have declined 8%.
  • Between 1985 and 2011, average child care costs rose 70% for working moms, after adjusting for inflation, according to the U.S. Census. Meanwhile, wages have barely budged.
  • women in the United States who do work are more likely to make it into professional and managerial roles. They’re also more likely to work full-time, and as a result, earn more money over their lifetimes.

Okay — so after I read the article I’m still no sure that I know WHY US women still choose not to work. Other than, its just that — A CHOICE. First off, the geek in me LOVES the data, numbers, and facts. I think it helps to give some context — but it doesn’t tell you the whole story. I found myself asking more questions and wanting to know more about these women — their education background, do they have a support network to help with childcare and if not, do they have access to top notch childcare, do they have a partner (is that by choice) — and as I started to think of my list of questions I stopped.

This headline grabbed my attention because something about it assumes that everyone WANTS to work and have kids. I’m not even sure that we can assume that everyone wants to work. 🙂 What if that IS an option for you and that is what you choose to do. It won’t be an option or desire for everyone.

I am not saying that there are not opportunities for new benefits, but let’s give businesses the leeway to offer some choices –and women the option to choose where they want to work — and IF they want to work. After all — it IS a choice.. What is right for you? What do YOU need to find balance?

Has anyone considered that “having it all” doesn’t mean that you have to have it all right now? There are different stages in life – what is right for you NOW?  Figure it out and own it — don’t let the government, your business, or society tell you what is right for you.

… but then again, what do I know? ..childless tree-hugging hippie here 🙂  — for now

Kids, benefits, childcare, work life balance — all on the minds of your employees — what’s your take and what’s your play?

PS — why is this all just a “woman’s problem” — men don’t have the same issues? — perhaps another post for another day – 🙂

Making the HR connection, yours

The Girl in HR Explains It — What is DOMA and What Does the Reversal Mean

Maybe you’ve heard some of the talk about DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and not exactly sure what it is or what it means in relationship to your company. I had a lot of people asking questions about it this weekend so I thought that I’d do a quick recap. As a disclaimer, I know that topics like DOMA can be a bit controversial. This is not meant to discuss any personal beliefs (I’m all about opinions, but  let’s keep it friendly), rather let’s lay out the facts and what’s important for you to know as an HR person for your company and your employees.

What Is It?

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a US  federal law that says that individual states to can refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states. Until the reversal, DOMA, basically had prevented same-sex married couples from being recognized as “spouses” for purposes of federal laws, or receiving federal marriage benefits.

What Happened?

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday by a 5-4 vote that DOMA was unconstitutional. “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

What Does It Mean?

In simplest terms the reversal of DOMA means that same-sex couples are now eligible for spousal benefits that they had been denied in the past. Its estimated that “1,138 federal benefits provided on the basis of marital status. All of those benefits will now be available to same-sex married couples who reside in the 12 states where same-sex marriage is legal.”   What benefits are we talking about? Not just the opportunity for healthcare benefits offered to opposite- sex couples, but also things such as immigration, FMLA (to take care a spouse or family member) and numerous tax benefits.

Here is a quick video that discusses DOMA and the recent reversal in a bit more detail

What Does This Mean To You As An HR Pro?

  • This is on the mind of some of your employees and some of your leaders, so do the research and be able to talk intelligently about it.
  • Understand the impacts to your current benefit programs — do you need to do some communication or sessions to help people with their benefit selections if they elect to make some changes to their benefits — make yourself (or your team) available to answer questions and to help make any needed changes in your systems or with providers.
  • Understand what your policies look like — do you need to update or review them — do you already have a policy in place for domestic partners of same or opposite sex? — do you need to change the wording of your policies?
  • Talk about it with your employees and leaders — do you have a GLBTA ERG (whoa that’s an acro — Gay, Lesbian, Bi Sexual, Transgendered, and Allies Employee Resource Group)?  If so chat with them and partner with them.

Arm yourself with the knowledge and do the research — know your stuff and be a guide — its your responsibility as an HR pro.  I’m just here to help get ya started.

Making the HR connection, yours, the Girl in HR!

Who will pay higher premiums under Obamacare? Young men – May. 14, 2013

The Obama administration says the Affordable Care Act will provide cheaper health insurance for millions of Americans.But some people, particularly young men who aren’t insured through their employers, could see their premiums go up once coverage in the state-based insurance exchanges begins in January.

Many groups have come out with reports forecasting what will happen to premiums, on average, next year. But just what folks will pay for insurance on the individual market depends on a variety of factors. They include the enrollee’s income, age, gender, current coverage level and state of residence.

“The average isn’t very relevant to any particular person,” said Jim O’Connor, principal at consulting firm Milliman, who authored a report on how “Obamacare” will affect premiums.The exact cost of plans likely won’t be known until the summer, at the earliest — and possibly not until the exchanges open for enrollment in October. Insurers have already submitted their proposals to state officials, and regulators are now reviewing them. But it is up to each state to decide when to release the plan specifics.Few insurers have disclosed their individual market plan prices for next year, but several have warned that they’re likely to rise significantly.

In Maryland, for instance, Blue Cross has said its premiums could go up 25%.Participants will have the opportunity to pick from a variety of plans offered by several different insurers. They range from “bronze” plans with low premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs to platinum plans that carry higher premiums but cover more expenses.One key provision is that those with pre-existing conditions cannot be excluded or charged more for coverage. Until now, many cancer survivors, heart attack sufferers and those with other ailments have found it tough to get insurance. The new rule is great for those who have been sick, since they can now obtain more affordable plans, but it is likely to make things more expensive for the healthy people who get insurance by raising the overall cost of coverage.

via Who will pay higher premiums under Obamacare? Young men – May. 14, 2013.

Retirement plans could get $3 million cap – Video – Personal Finance

Have you heard about this — if not, time to get into the game and start learning more about it. Retirement planning is no joke 🙂

Retirement plans could get $3 million cap

The proposed $3 million cap on savings could cost the government more in the long run if savers pull away from stashing money away for retirement.

via Retirement plans could get $3 million cap – Video – Personal Finance.