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Benefits in the News > By Subject >

Educational assistance


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Student Loan Debt Repayment Benefits
"Unlike tuition reimbursement, any dollars provided by employers that offer any level of student loan repayment are considered taxable income. To date, attempts to make this new type of employee benefit tax-advantaged for employees and/or employers have yet to succeed. However, the scale of student loan debt is so vast, more employers are likely to pursue this benefit -- even without the tax advantages." (Frenkel Benefits)
[Official Guidance] IRS Publication 1220: Specifications for Electronic Filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G for Tax Year 2017 (PDF)
150 pages, August 2017 revision date. Includes a "First Time Filers Quick Reference Guide" with information about Form 4419, Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE), which is used to request authorization to file Forms 1097, 1098 Series, 1099 Series, 3921, 3922, 5498 Series, 8027, 8955-SSA, 1042-S, and W-2G electronically through the Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) System. Excerpt: "Allow a 45-day processing timeframe prior to the earliest information return due date." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Millennials Seek Employer-Sponsored Learning Opportunities
"Sixty-three percent of Millennials surveyed indicated that they look for jobs at learning organizations where they will have access to training, workshops, and company-funded postgraduate schooling ... [A]mong Millennials with less than 2 years of professional experience, the top motivator to take a job is having the opportunity to grow and learn leadership skills. When looking for job opportunities, 55% of survey participants pointed to leadership opportunities as a key consideration." (HR Daily Advisor)
The Emerging Benefit Trend of Student Loan Assistance
"Employers want to be able to help mitigate some of the downside of high student loan debt among their employees, but their efforts are hindered by the fact that employer loan payments on behalf of an employee are currently taxable to the employee. Several pieces of new legislation proposed for the 2017-2018 Congressional term encourage or facilitate employer assistance with student loan repayments through tax incentives. A survey of some of these measures [is included in this article]." (E is for ERISA)
Why Student Loan Repayment May Soon Be a Standard Benefit
"The average tenure of Millennials is around 16 months, and the bulk of these workers are saddled with a tremendous amount of student loan debt ($30,000 on average). That revolving door mentality among younger workers hurts employers' retention rates and costs a fortune in extra recruiting and training costs. Plus, because student loan debt makes contributing to a 401(k) a low priority, employers' 401(k) participation rates suffer as well." (HR Benefits Alert)
Two Big Trends for 2017: Wellness, Education
"[E]mployers this year will focus on employee health and emotional well-being and will use tuition-free college programs for employees to meet company and industry needs. Many will use new technologies to advance these goals." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
Lawmakers Interested in Student Loan Repayment as Employee Benefit
"The average debt per borrower has nearly doubled since 2004, increasing from roughly $18,000 to more than $35,000 for a 2015 graduate. As millennials become a larger share of the workforce, the student loan debt dilemma is attracting more attention from employers. Legislative proposals would allow employers to establish a variety of tax-preferred student loan repayment assistance programs." (Willis Towers Watson)
Employees Show Interest in Student Loan Repayment Benefit
"87.7% of respondents believe employer-sponsored student loan contribution programs are significant. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds (65.4%) reported difficulty in paying student loan debt, and nearly one-third (32.4%) lack the confidence to complete payments." (planadviser)
Lawmakers Interested in Student Loan Repayment as Employee Benefit
"The average debt per borrower has nearly doubled since 2004, increasing from roughly $18,000 to more than $35,000 for a 2015 graduate. As millennials become a larger share of the workforce, the student loan debt dilemma is attracting more attention from employers. Legislative proposals would allow employers to establish a variety of tax-preferred student loan repayment assistance programs." (Willis Towers Watson)
Student Loan Help Could Be Coming From Your Employer Soon
"The growth of the sector and [the entry of Social Finance (SoFi), a loan refinancing firm,] into the market is just the latest sign that student loan debt is becoming a nearly universal American experience. Firms are increasingly using offers of student loan help ... as a way to compete for top talent. SoFi officials say roughly 600 companies have signed on to use the [Sofi at Work platform], including seven of the top 10 tech firms in the Fortune 500." (MarketWatch)
More Companies Funding Professional Credentials for Employees
"Of the more than 2,200 CFOs the staffing firm polled in the largest U.S. metro areas this year, 38% said their companies fully covered costs employees incurred to maintain professional certifications, and another 38% said they paid part of the costs.... 76% of respondents said they paid all or part of the costs their employees incurred to receive professional certifications." (Journal of Accountancy)
A New Important Benefit Consideration: Student Loan Repayment
"For an employer considering a student loan repayment benefit option, they will need to remember that this is considered taxable income to the employee, unlike the familiar tuition reimbursement, which provides employers a deduction up to $5,250 paid on behalf of the employee. If including employer distribution into a 401(k) plan, employers will also need to remember to amend the plan." (The Institute for HealthCare Consumerism [IHCC])
Why Student Loan Repayment May Soon Be a Standard Employee Benefit
"Because student loan debt is so important to younger employees, companies that offer relief in this area will have a big leg up on the competition and likely be able to bolster dwindling retention rates. What's more, student loan debt isn't only an issue for Millennials. Thirty-five percent of all student loan debt is held by individuals over the age of 39. Many people also have Federal Parent PLUS Loans, loans for parents to help finance their children's college education." (HR Benefits Alert)
The Next 401(k)? Why Student Loan Repayment May Soon Be a Standard Benefit
"The average tenure of Millennials is around 16 months, and the bulk of these workers are saddled with a tremendous amount of student loan debt ... That revolving door mentality among younger workers hurts employers' retention rates and costs a fortune in extra recruiting and training costs. Plus, because student loan debt makes contributing to a 401(k) a low priority, employers' 401(k) participation rates suffer as well." (HR Benefits Alert)
One Employer Sees 129% ROI on Tuition Reimbursement Program for Employees
"[T]here is a measurable financial benefit from tuition assistance. For one company, Cigna, that benefit was at least 129% between 2012 and 2014 -- that is, for each dollar invested, the insurer got that dollar back and saved a further $1.29 on talent management costs. About 60% of employers offer such a program[.]" (CFO)
How to Pay School Loans and Save for Retirement at the Same Time
"CEO Tony Aguilar helped start Student Loan Genius in 2013 ... He's been pushing for Congress to pass a bill that would allow employer matches to student loan payments to be pretax. But in the meantime, his company came up with a way to sync the existing 401(k) program with college loan bills. That way, young people don't lose the opportunity for a tax-deferred match if they've chosen to pay down debt rather than save for retirement." (Bloomberg)
Easing the Student Loan Debt Burden: Points for Employers to Consider
"Although [a recent] survey showed that just 3 percent of employers offer to help employees pay down their student loan debt, a growing number of employers have announced they will be offering this benefit in the future, and more are thinking about providing it.... The most important thing to keep in mind about student loan repayment benefits is that they don't receive preferential tax treatment. In other words, any amount paid to employees will be subject to income and payroll taxes." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
An Innovative Benefit: Student Loan Repayment Assistance
"Nearly 80% of the student loan holders surveyed ... said they would like to work for a company that offers a loan repayment match, and repayment assistance was valued as much as major parts of the total compensation package -- health care and 401(k) plans.... Forty-three million Americans have borrowed for education, with balances totaling $1.2 trillion[.]" (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP])
Educational Assistance Programs: Why They Work
"Respondents overwhelmingly offer educational assistance to their full-time salaried and hourly workers. More than one in three respondents also provide these benefits to their part-time salaried and hourly workers. The most common type of coursework covered is undergraduate-level courses (88%), followed by master's degree-level courses (87%) and associate degree courses (69%)." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP])
PricewaterhouseCoopers Will Give Employees $7,200 for Student Debt
"A recent survey by Iontuition found that 80 percent of 1,000 people surveyed wanted to work for a company that offered student loan repayment assistance. Yet few businesses do this. Many organizations offer tuition assistance, but only about 3 percent have student loan repayment programs, according to a 2015 survey by the Society for Human Resources Management." (Bloomberg)
Coffee Giant Brews Up Perky Educational Benefit for Employees
"In as bold a move as its strongest blend, coffee powerhouse Starbucks [has] upped the ante to its college degree program the company first unveiled last summer. The program now provides a more robust package for employees, offering a full four-year tuition plan for both full- and part-time employees working at least 20 hours, in addition to faster tuition reimbursement. The program is a partnership with Arizona State University and provides full tuition coverage for a bachelor's degree though ASU's online program." (Employee Benefit News)
[Official Guidance] Text of DOL Field Assistance Bulletin 2014-02: Supplemental FAQs on Apprenticeship and Training Plan Expenses -- Skills Competitions
"Q1. On what basis may an apprenticeship and training plan pay for participation in a skills competition or contest? ... Q2. May plan fiduciaries use plan assets to pay for expenses associated with organizing and conducting apprenticeship and training plan skills competitions? ... Q3. What travel expenses are permissible for apprentices and these other individuals? ... Q4. May an apprenticeship or training plan reimburse employers for the wages paid by employers to participants during the competition?" (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])
College Student-Athletes Tell NCAA to Share the Wealth: Potential Tax Implications
"Section 117 of the Internal Revenue Code provides an exclusion for certain qualified scholarships for individuals who are candidates for a degree at an educational institution, provided that the amount received does not represent payment for 'other services' required as a condition for receiving the qualified scholarship. The IRS has ruled that athletic scholarships are not considered payments for 'other services,' and are excludible from gross income. Therefore, if the stipend payments were characterized similarly to an athletic scholarship, the student-athletes would not recognize income upon the disbursement of trust funds to pay for educational expenses.... The stipend payment, on the other hand, is compensation, not for the benefit of a student's intellectual advancement, but for the licensed use of a student-athlete's name, image, and likeness. Therefore, if the stipend is characterized as compensation for services, then it cannot be excluded from income as a qualified scholarship." (Bloomberg BNA)
New Perk Gives Federal Employees a Break on the Cost of Education
"Federal workers who live outside of Maryland can receive a 25 percent discount on all undergraduate and most graduate programs offered at the University of Maryland University College.... Federal workers' spouses and their legal dependents also are eligible for the reduced rates. The tuition break applies to in-person and online classes." (Government Executive)
[Guidance Overview] 2013 Benefit Limits
"The IRS and the Social Security Administration have announced the cost-of-living adjustments for various benefit plan limits for 2013. Limits affecting retirement plans [as well as] the limits for health and certain other fringe benefit plans are shown [in this article]." (Kilpatrick Townsend)
[Guidance Overview] Impact of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 on Transit Passes and Other Employer-Provided Fringe Benefit Plans
"ATRA extends through the end of 2013 the transit parity rule that makes the combined monthly limit for qualified transit pass and vanpooling benefits equal to the considerably higher monthly limit for qualified parking benefits. In 2012 the combined limit for transit pass and vanpooling benefits was only $125 per month, while the 2012 limit for qualified parking benefits was $240. As a result of the legislation, the combined transit pass/vanpooling limit for 2012 rises to $240. Note, however, the 2013 limit has not yet been announced." (McDermott Will & Emery)
[Guidance Overview] Year-End Tax Bill Provides Extensions and Expansions of Various Employee Benefits
"Because the $125 monthly exclusion was not changed until 2013, employers had to withhold income tax and FICA taxes on monthly mass-transit and vanpool benefits greater than $125 that were provided during 2012. The retroactive increase in the exclusion for these benefits for 2012 will be reflected on 2012 Form W-2s and affected employees will recover any extra withholding on their 2012 tax returns." (McGuire Woods LLP)
[Guidance Overview] Fiscal Cliff Bill Affects IRAs, Roth 401(k)s, Coverdell ESAs (PDF)
"This legislation revives a number of expired or expiring tax provisions, and seeks ways to generate federal tax revenues through new taxpayer incentives.... IRA Qualified Charitable Distributions Extended, Transition Period Allowed ... In-Plan Roth Rollovers Expanded ... Permanence for Coverdell ESA Account Provisions ..." (Ascensus)
President Signs Fiscal Cliff Bill Including IRA, Retirement Plan and Educational Savings Account Provisions
"Coverdell education savings account (ESA) provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) that were set to expire at the end of 2012 are made permanent. The IRA qualified charitable distribution (QCD) that permits an IRA owner age 70-1/2 or older to contribute up to $100,000 of IRA assets per year tax-free to qualifying charities, has been extended for two years, including 2012 and 2013.... [T]ransition relief ... allows certain distributions taken in January of 2013 to be considered qualifying QCD contributions for 2012, and certain distributions paid directly to IRA owners in December of 2012 to be considered eligible for QCD treatment." (Ascensus)
[Guidance Overview] Highlights of Fiscal Cliff Legislation Affecting Employee Benefits
"Employers providing educational assistance to employees through a qualified education assistance plan may continue to provide those benefits tax-free to participants of up to $5,250 per year. Although this provision had historically been extended period-by-period, the new legislation has permanently extended employer-provided educational assistance for undergraduate and graduate-level courses beginning after December 31, 2012.... The pre-tax allowance for mass transit expenses has been increased from $125 to $240 per year effective retroactively to January 1, 2012 through the end of 2013." (Holland & Hart)
Fiscal Cliff Deal Affects Wide Range of Benefits and Compensation Programs
"While the legislation's most significant provisions include higher tax rates for high-income taxpayers and a payroll tax increase for working Americans, the law also includes important provisions affecting benefit and compensation programs ranging from Roth retirement plans to health care and qualified transportation benefits." (Towers Watson)
Congress Passes Fiscal Cliff Act; Benefits Affected
"Various temporary tax provisions enacted as part of EGTRRA were made permanent. These include: ... The liberalized child and dependent care credit rules (allowing the credit to be calculated based on up to $3,000 of expenses for one dependent or up to $6,000 for more than one) (Sec. 21); ... The exclusion for employer-provided educational assistance (Sec. 127); ... The employer-provided child care credit (Sec. 45F); ... The act also extended through 2013 a number of temporary individual tax provisions, most of which expired at the end of 2011 ... [including] Parity for exclusion from income for employer-provided mass transit and parking benefits (Sec. 132(f))[.]" (Journal of Accountancy)
New Company Benefit? Consider Matching Contributions to a Section 529 College Savings Plan
"Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. ... announced this week a 'multiple match' program for employees who contribute to a 529 college savings plan. The company will match dollar for dollar up to $2,500 per year in total contributions made by salaried employees and up to $1,000 per year for hourly workers, beginning with any contributions made in 2012. (The 529 matching payments are taxable, but the company says it will contribute enough additional money to cover the taxes itself, so that employees wind up with the full dollar-for-dollar value.)" (MarketWatch)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2012-75: Application of the General Welfare Exclusion to Indian Tribal Government Programs That Provide Benefits to Tribal Members (PDF)
"This notice proposes a revenue procedure that would describe general principles for the general welfare exclusion and provide safe harbors under which the Internal Revenue Service would presume that the individual need requirement of the general welfare exclusion is met for benefits provided under Indian tribal governmental programs described in [this] proposed revenue procedure, and would not assert that benefits provided under programs described [herein] represent compensation for services." (Internal Revenue Service)
2013 Expiring and Changing Employee Benefit and Payroll Provisions
"The income tax exclusion for amounts paid by an employer under a qualified adoption assistance program is ... set to expire on December 31, 2012.... Employee contributions to health care flexible spending accounts will be reduced to $2,500 per year for plan years beginning in 2013.... Certain reimbursements for employer-provided educational assistance will expire at the end of 2012." (McDermott Will & Emery)
Employee Education Subsidies: Tax Implications
"Educational reimbursement programs are a common employee benefit among health care organizations. Programs can be established to assist employees in paying for tuition, books and fees in the pursuit of continuing education while on the job. If your organization sponsors such an arrangement, is it getting the best bang for its buck? If structured correctly, these arrangements can provide tax-favored benefits from both an employee and employer perspective." (Holland & Hart)
EBSA Issues Field Assistance Bulletin on Apprenticeship Funds' Graduation and Marketing Expenses
"EBSA stated that with few exceptions, apprenticeship or other training programs are considered employee welfare benefit plans subject to ERISA. The apprenticeship and training program fiduciaries must abide by the general fiduciary standards in Part 4 of ERISA.... [they] must be able to justify plan expenses as appropriate means of carrying out the plan's mission of training workers." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans)
Bill Proposed to Make Employer-Paid Education Assistance Tax Break Permanent
"Under Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code, employers can reimburse employees for up to $5,250 in annual undergraduate and graduate costs without the reimbursement being included in employees' taxable income. That tax break, though, is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012." (Business Insurance)
Training and Retirement
"This paper presents results on the effect of formal life-long learning on the decision to retire early. Specifically, I estimate an Option Value model based on individual employer-employee longitudinal data including comprehensive government co-sponsored training records dating back more than 30 years." (Social Science Research Network)
IRS's Updated Version of Taxable Fringe Benefit Guide
"This publication offers helpful insight into the IRS's views regarding the taxation, withholding, and reporting requirements for many fringe benefits. And unlike many other IRS summaries, it includes citations to statutes, regulations, cases, and guidance that make it useful as a gateway reference." (Thomson Reuters/EBIA)
Determining ROI for Employer-Based Tuition-Assistance Programs
"The latest Benefits USA study, from Kansas City, Kan.-based Compdata, found the number of companies that offer tuition reimbursement to all of their employees has grown significantly in the past three years." (Human Resource Executive Online)
Employers Find Value in Offering Tuition Assistance Programs
"More than 96% of the respondents reported that the education they received through their tuition assistance programs was valuable and a good use of their organizations' resources." (PLANSPONSOR.COM)
More Employers Offer Employee Tuition Reimbursement
"In 2009, only 34.9% of employers offered tuition reimbursement to all employees. This increased to 45.3% in 2010, and again in 2011 to 51.7%." (PLANSPONSOR.COM)
Aspiring M.B.A. Candidates May Find Tuition Programs at Work
"A September 2010 survey of 1,084 U.S. companies from Business and Legal Reports . . . showed a large increase in the percentage of companies that had a tuition-funding program, to 85 percent, up from 52 percent in 2007." (The New York Times; free registration required)
[Guidance Overview] Tax Law Extension of Expiring Benefit Provisions
"The extensions affect employer-sponsored benefit programs, including educational assistance programs and qualified transportation benefits." (Towers Watson)
[Guidance Overview] Tax Bill Includes Employment-Related Provisions
Excerpt: "The headline-grabbing provisions of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 . . . include extending current marginal income tax rates through 2012 and providing another year of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. But the bill, which President Obama signed into law on December 17, also includes a number of important employment-related provisions." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)
Tax Legislation Affect on Employee Benefits, Social Security Taxes and Individual Retirement Accounts
Excerpt: "Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 . . . permits an employee to exclude from income up to $5,250 annually for educational assistance benefits (such as tuition, fees, books and supplies) incurred by the employer on behalf of the employee." (McGuireWoods LLP)
[Guidance Overview] Tax Break Extension Legislation Includes Employee Benefits Provisions; IRS Delays Compliance with Nondiscrimination Rules for Insured Group Health Plans
Excerpt: "The Tax Relief Act extends the application of Code Section 127 through December 31, 2012, allowing employers to continue to provide tax-free educational assistance to their qualifying employees for an additional two years." (Bond)
Summary of the Principal Provisions of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
Addressed in the summary are various employment-based benefits such as the child care credit, Employer Provided Educational Assistance, and Adoption Credit and Exclusion from Income for Employer Provided Assistance. (Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC)
[Guidance Overview] Temporary Payroll and Benefit Relief Under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (PDF)
3 pages. Excerpt: "The Act extends various tax benefits that were to expire. For example, (i) An adoption credit under EGTRRA is extended through 2012; (ii) Child care credit is extended for 2011 and 2012; (iii) EGTRRA employer provided education assistance exclusion is extended through 2011 and 2012; (iv) Coverdell Educational IRAs continue the EGTRRA $2000 maximum and the availability of for elementary and secondary school expenses through 2011 and 2012; (v) Tax-free distributions from IRAs for charity are extended through 2011." (Charles C. Shulman, Esq.)
Obama Signs Bill Extending Benefits Tax Breaks
Excerpt: "[The tax-favored status of several employer-provided benefits was passed: 1. allowing] employers to reimburse employees for up to $5,250 in annual undergraduate and graduate educational costs without the reimbursement being included in employees' taxable income . . . . [2. E]mployers are eligible to receive a tax credit equal to 25% of expenses for developing and operating child care centers as well as a tax credit of 10% on expenses for child care and referral services. [3. allowing] employers to provide tax-free reimbursement to employees of about $13,000 of adoption-related expenses[; and, allowing] employees to reduce their salaries and make pretax contributions of up to $230 a month to pay for mass transit expenses." (Business Insurance)
Senate Backs Vote on Tax Bill Affecting Employer-Provided Benefits
Excerpt: "Legislation that would extend the tax-favored status of several employer-provided benefits, including educational assistance and child care facilities, survived a key test Monday when the Senate agreed to stop debate, setting the stage for a final vote, most likely on Tuesday or Wednesday." (Business Insurance)
A Study of Employee Education Assistance Provided Under Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code (PDF)
Excerpt: "This report updates the findings of [a] 1995 report by examining full-time employees who enrolled as students in 2007-08 and benefited from the Section 127 provision." (Society for Human Resource Management via The Coalition To Preserve Employer Provided Education Assistance)
Audio and Text: Walmart Will Cover Up to 15 Percent of Tuition Toward College Degrees for Employees
Excerpt: "The world's largest retailer is now offering its 1.4 million employees a college education. Through a partnership with American Public University, employees can take online courses toward a bachelor's or master's degree." (National Public Radio)
Tax Break on Tuition Benefits Remains Up in the Air
Excerpt: "Favorable tax treatment on tuition benefits expires at midnight on Dec. 31, 2010, unless Congress passes legislation aimed at making Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code permanent." (Employee Benefit News; free registration required)
Survey Finds More Employers Offering Tuition Reimbursement
Excerpt: "Eighty-five percent of employers in a recent survey report that their organization offers tuition assistance to their employees, compared to 52% that said so in late 2007." (PLANSPONSOR.com)
Wal-Mart to Offer Its Workers a College Program
Excerpt: "The purveyor of inexpensive jeans and lawnmowers is dipping its toe into the online-education waters, working with a Web-based university to offer its employees in the United States affordable college degrees. The partnership with American Public University, a for-profit school with about 70,000 online students, will allow some Wal-Mart and Sam's Club employees to earn credits in areas like retail management and logistics for performing their regular jobs." (The New York Times; free registration required)
Qualified Tuition Reductions for School Employees
Excerpt: "The IRS recently clarified the availability of the income exclusion under IRC ? 117(d) for qualified tuition reduction in the case of joint-degree programs, and where graduate-level courses are taken other than to fulfill a graduate degree." (Deloitte via BenefitsLink.com)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Explaination of Rule Limiting Qualified Tuition Reductions to Education Below the Graduate Level
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Although this letter cannot be relied on as precedent, it offers a helpful and succinct summary of the criteria that determine when courses qualify for nontaxable tuition discounts under Code Section 117(d). The discussion of joint-degree programs is particularly interesting in light of the growing interest in these programs. Educational organizations that are frustrated by their inability to use the qualified tuition reduction rules for graduate-level education unfortunately will have few alternatives. Code Section 132(l) generally prevents them from providing courses as nontaxable fringe benefits under Code Section 132 (e.g., as no-additional-cost services or as qualified employee discounts)." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)
IRS Set To Begin Comprehensive Employment Tax Audits
Excerpt: "This month, the IRS will launch a new employment tax National Research Program . . . . [T]he IRS will randomly select 6,000 taxpayers (2,000 taxpayers in 2010 for the 2008 tax year and 2,000 taxpayers each in 2011 and 2012 for the 2009 and 2010 tax years, respectively) and conduct in-depth audits of those taxpayers' employment tax issues . . . . In addition to identifying organizations that fail to file employment tax returns at all, the comprehensive audits will focus on at least four major employment tax issues: * Classification of workers as employees or independent contractors; * Reasonableness of executive compensation; * Tax treatment and reporting of fringe benefits as tax-free or as taxable compensation; and * Tax treatment and reporting of employee reimbursements." (Ballard Spahr)

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