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Fringe benefits - transit, discounts, other


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Employees Favor Student Loan Repayment Benefits
"23% of respondents said they would forgo health care benefits for student loan repayment help; 38% said they would switch out dental care benefits; 46% would give up paid time off (PTO); 33% would sacrifice retirement benefits; and 43% would rather have a student loan repayment benefit than life insurance.... [A] little more than half (53%) of workers revealed they would consider a salary cut, as long as they received a student loan repayment benefit in replacement. If a company were to offer a student loan benefit, 84% of respondents said they would strongly consider that job over others that did not." (planadviser)
What the Proposed Tax Bills Mean for Employer-Provided Fringe Benefits
"Both the House and Senate versions of tax reform propose significant changes that may reduce or eliminate the tax benefits of many popular employer-provided fringe benefits, such as dependent care assistance programs, on-premises gyms and bicycle commuting expense reimbursements. In addition, many common deductions for work-related activities -- including certain meal and entertainment expenses -- may see sweeping changes." (McDermott Will & Emery)
Tax Reform: Side-by-Side Comparison of Employee Benefit Provisions of House and Senate Bills
"The House initially took a heavy hand to many favorable executive compensation provisions and made some important changes in the retirement and welfare areas, but the House Ways and Means Committee relented a bit. The Senate Finance Committee proposal, as modified ... followed suit in its approach to executive compensation." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)
Tax Reform Legislation Moves Through the House and Senate (PDF)
"[Both bills] contain several provisions that would change the tax rules with respect to retirement plans, executive and nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC') arrangements, employee fringe benefits, and health and welfare plans. [Includes a link to a] side-by-side summary comparing the retirement, executive compensation, fringe benefit, and health and welfare provisions in the House and Senate bills[.]" (Groom Law Group)
Senate Finance Committee Releases Text of Committee-Approved Tax Bill
Documents pertaining to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as passed by the Senate Finance Committee: the text of the bill, a section-by-section description of the bill, and the Joint Committee on Taxation's score of the bill. (Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate)
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Passes House
"Dependent Care FSA eliminated as of 2023: The original version of the bill would have eliminated the Dependent Care FSA as of 2018. So this five-year delay is a small victory. Current Senate Bill: Does not eliminate the Dependent Care FSA.... The bill eliminates the ability for employers to provide tax-free adoption assistance to employees (up to $13,570 in 2017). Current Senate Bill: Does not eliminate Adoption Assistance Programs.... The bill eliminates only the Section 127 qualified program that does not require the employee's educational expenses be work-related. Employers would still be able to offer the separate Section 132 working condition fringe tax-free educational benefit for work-related educational expenses. Current Senate Bill: Does not eliminate Qualified Education Assistance Program." (ABD Insurance & Financial Services)
Description of the Chairman's Modification to the Chairman's Mark of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
103 pages. "Scheduled for markup before the Senate Committee on Finance on November 15, 2017 ... The Chairman's modification strikes the following proposals: [1] Item III.H.1, Nonqualified deferred compensation, [2] Item III.K, Determination of worker classification and information reporting requirements, [3] Item III.M.2, Application of 10-percent early withdrawal tax to governmental section 457(b) plans, and [4] Item III.M.3, Elimination of catch-up contributions for high-wage employees." [Also available: Estimated revenue effects of these modifications.] (Joint Committee on Taxation [JCT], U.S. Congress)
Tax Bills Put Fringe Benefits on the Firing Line
"A broad range of commonly offered benefits would no longer be excludable from an employee's taxable wages ... In turn, certain popular employer deductions for employee benefits would be eliminated (even though the benefits themselves may remain excludable)." (Morgan Lewis)
A Look at the House Ways and Means Committee Revisions and the Senate Mark of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (PDF)
"The Senate Mark also introduced a five percent Federal income tax withholding obligation on compensation paid to independent contractors and included other differences to the final House bill impacting [1] compensation-related deductions, [2] employer-provided fringe benefits, [and] [3] retirement plans ... [T]he House bill and Senate Mark are aligned on changes to section 162(m), including the proposed elimination of the performance-based compensation exception to the $1 million limit on the deductibility of covered employee compensation" (Baker McKenzie)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2017-70: Treatment of Amounts Paid to Section 170(c) Organizations Under Employer Leave-Based Donation Programs to Aid Victims of the California Wildfires (PDF)
"The [IRS] will not assert that cash payments an employer makes to Section 170(c) organizations in exchange for vacation, sick, or personal leave that its employees elect to forgo constitute gross income or wages of the employees if the payments are: [1] made to the Section 170(c) organizations for the relief of victims of the 2017 California Wildfires ; and [2] paid to the Section 170(c) organizations before January 1, 2019. Similarly, the Service will not assert that the opportunity to make such an election results in constructive receipt of gross income or wages for employees." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
What Do Young Workers Think About Student Loan Repayment Benefits?
"Of those who received a student loan benefit, a stark majority (93 percent) make additional payments on their student loans.... 23 percent said they would give up basic healthcare benefits for a student loan repayment benefit.... 33 percent said they would give up access to retirement benefits now if it meant receiving a student loan repayment benefit.... 38 percent would give up dental care benefits.... Surprisingly, a large group (46 percent) would give up paid time off." (Millennial Personal Finance)
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Good News for 401(k) Plans, Bad News for Nonqualified Deferred Compensation
"While there were no adjustments to contributions to 401(k) plans under the Act, that does not mean that the final version of the bill will not include some form of Rothification.... The Act liberalizes certain rules relating to hardship distributions.... This proposal would eliminate many standard forms of deferred compensation, such as 401(k) mirror plans. It also removes from the Code, with respect to services performed after December 31, 2017, Sections 409A, 457(b) (for tax exempt employers), 457(f), and 457A ... The exclusions for adoption assistance, dependent care, qualified moving expenses, and employee achievement awards are repealed." (The Wagner Law Group)
House of Representatives Releases Tax Reform Proposal: The Tax Cuts and Job Act
"The tax reform proposal does not provide any relief from ... the tax on high cost health plans (the 'Cadillac tax'), the cap on employee contributions to health FSAs, the requirement that drugs be prescribed to be reimbursed from an FSA, HRA or HSA and the increase in the penalty tax for disqualified distributions from an HSA.... Employers will no longer be able to deduct expenses for qualified transportation fringe benefits paid or incurred after December 31, 2017 ... However, the proposal does not change the non-taxable nature of these qualified transportation fringe benefits. This means that employers will not be able to deduct any pre-tax transit and parking amounts, but they will remain tax advantaged for individual employees." (Employers Council on Flexible Compensation [ECFC])
November Compliance Guide: Voluntary Benefits
"[1] Pack the compliance essentials if your voluntary benefits are subject to ERISA.... [2] Take steps to exclude identity theft protection from employee gross income.... [3] Check the fees on student loan reimbursements.... [4] Leave employees' financial stress at the station.... [5] Take off for time off." (Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.)
[Guidance Overview] Puerto Rico Agencies Issue Employee-Related Guidance, Tax Relief in Wake of Hurricanes
"[L]ocal government agencies have issued the following measures and guidance related to employers concerning their employees. [1] Income tax exemption for assistance to employees... [2] [G]uidance on payment of salary for days not worked in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Mar´┐Ża. PR-DOL Opinion 2017-001 cites the Fair Labor Standards Act and its interpretative regulations in summarizing payment obligations for exempt and non-exempt employees due to natural disasters and recovery. (Jackson Lewis P.C.)
How to Choose the Right Employer Sponsored Pet Insurance Plan
"Key factors to consider when selecting a pet insurance plan include: What types of pets are covered? ... Is preventive care covered? ... How are rates determined? ... ow are veterinary claim reimbursements determined? ... Are pre-existing conditions covered?" (Mercer)
Workers Willing to Compromise on Salary for the Right Benefits, Culture, and Growth Opportunities
"Benefits are almost as important as culture when considering a job offer, with a signing bonus and financial support for training topping the 'most wanted' list. Employers who offer health and dental, 401k contributions, and paid vacation time are probably not standing out from the crowd. Three-quarters of employers offer health and dental and two-thirds offer 401k and 3+ weeks of paid vacation." (HR Daily Advisor)
Federal District Court Holds the Ministers Housing Allowance Unconstitutional (PDF)
"Code section 107(2) provides that a minister may exclude from his or her taxable income 'the rental allowance paid to him as part of his compensation ...' Historically, the IRS has interpreted this to apply to deferred compensation as well, so this could have impact on church retirement plans." [Gaylor v. Mnuchin, No. 16-215 (W.D. Wisc. Oct. 6, 2017)] (Groom Law Group)
As Benefits Homogenize, Will Tailored Voluntary Packages Help Companies Stand Out?
"The value proposition for employers that offer voluntary benefits alongside core benefits like health and disability insurance, is widely acknowledged. But what's increasingly coming into focus is the need for made-to-order benefits packages that address the unique needs of a specific workforce." (HR Dive)
[Guidance Overview] Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury Grants Relief for Employer Qualified Disaster Assistance Payments to Employees Affected by Hurricane Maria
"On October 4, 2017, the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury issued Administrative Determination No. 17-21 granting temporary income tax exemptions for payments and certain benefits provided by employers to their employees for relief due to the passing of Hurricane Maria through Puerto Rico, provided such payments are considered 'Qualified Payments Made for Disaster Assistance' and certain requirements are met.... Employers making Qualified Payments Made for Disaster Assistance must comply with certain reporting requirements due by January 31, 2018." [BenefitsLink note: Access to the website for the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury has been intermittent since the arrival of Hurricane Maria.] (Littler)
Nearly One-Third of Employers Offer Vacation Time Donation
"30 percent of employers with paid vacation allow workers to donate paid vacation days; 28 percent of employers offering paid-time-off (PTO) plans allow workers to donate paid time off; and 22 percent of employers who provide paid sick leave allow workers to donate sick leave.... 3 percent of those offering PTO and less than 1 percent of those offering vacation time, allow employees to donate the cash value of unused paid time off to charitable organizations." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)
What Extra Benefits Can You Offer to Create a Better Workplace?
"From 'paid, paid vacations' to merely saying thank you, there are a wide variety of things you can offer outside of pay to sweeten the deal for employees. Some of the most effective: Two-way communication ... Work/life balance ... Recognition ... Development opportunities ... Fun extras." (PayScale)
[Opinion] Redefining Employee Benefits
"This emerging market demand to help people through their workplace has resulted in a significant amount of capital being invested in new companies providing products and services to fill the need. These solutions include wellness, nutrition and smoking cessation programs, financial fitness, college loan payment support, employee loan programs, help with bad credit, and more." (Joe Markland)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2017-54: 2017-2018 Special Per Diem Rates (PDF)
"This annual notice provides the 2017-2018 special per diem rates for taxpayers to use in substantiating the amount of ordinary and necessary business expenses incurred while traveling away from home, specifically [1] the special transportation industry meal and incidental expenses (M&IE) rates, [2] the rate for the incidental expenses only deduction, and [3] the rates and list of high-cost localities for purposes of the high-low substantiation method." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
[Official Guidance] Text of 2017 IRS Form 8882: Credit for Employer-Provided Childcare Facilities and Services (PDF)
Rev. Dec. 2017. "Employers use Form 8882 to claim the credit for qualified childcare facility and resource and referral expenditures. The credit is part of the general business credit. You may claim the credit any time within 3 years from the due date of your return on either an original or amended return." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Creating Effective Open Marketplaces for a Wide Menu of Benefits
"Since the average working adult only spends 15 minutes on their benefits purchases, they make extremely fast buying decisions. Our challenge is two-fold regarding these speed purchases: employees often make these decisions without considering benefits within the context of their lives (despite our best efforts), and the choices they make rarely consider new information nor do they deviate from their past histories." (Human Resource Executive Online)
Providing Emergency Assistance to Employees Via Employer-Sponsored Private Foundations
"According to Publication 3833, employer-sponsored private foundations may provide assistance to employees or family members affected by a 'qualified disaster' (as defined in the Internal Revenue Code) as long as certain safeguards are in place to ensure that such assistance is servicing charitable purposes, rather than the business purposes of the employer.... [T]he IRS may still review the facts and circumstances to ensure that any benefit to the employer is tenuous and incidental, and that its program is not used to induce employees to follow a course of action sought by the employer or designed to designed to relieve the employer of a legal obligation for employee benefits." (EisnerAmper)
[Discussion] The Buzz Over Student Loan Repayment Programs
"A lot of recordkeepers are starting to talk about Student Loan Repayment Programs. Clients seem to get excited about them but I can't figure out what they do/how they work." (BenefitsLink Message Boards)
How Employers and Employees Can Help Those in Need Due to Hurricane Harvey
"[F]our types of employer-sponsored relief programs that allow employers to provide assistance on a tax-advantaged basis: [1] Charitable leave donation programs; [2] Disaster assistance leave banks; [3] Qualified disaster relief programs; [4] Employer-sponsored charitable organizations. The first program is targeted at broad-based relief to victims of disasters like Hurricane Harvey, and the last three programs are methods to assist an employer's own employees who have been directly impacted by this major disaster." (Morgan Lewis)
Are Outplacement Benefits Taxable?
"While employer-provided outplacement services would be taxable under general tax principles, they are typically excludable under Code Section 132(a)(3) as a working condition fringe benefit.... [Offering] employees a choice between nontaxable outplacement assistance and taxable severance pay ... would make the outplacement benefit taxable." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)
Using Voluntary Benefits to Attract and Keep Part-Time Employees
"Only 25 percent of part-timers have an employer-sponsored medical plan (compared to 80 percent of full-timers). Just 32 percent of part-timers have an employer-sponsored retirement plan (compared to 69 percent of full-timers). Less than 20 percent of part-timers have dental, disability or life insurance benefits at work (compared to more than half of full-timers).... Providing access to voluntary benefits can ease part-time workers' financial stress, reduce turnover and differentiate employers from competitors in the talent market[.]" (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
Lessons Learned from Katrina, and Hurricane Harvey Relief Guidance to Date
"In the past some employers have permitted employees to donate their paid time off or leave to a pool that can be used by the affected employees. Donation of leave is possible as long as one carefully structures the leave donation program in compliance with existing guidance so that there is no constructive receipt of the donated leave by the donating employee.... Employers can establish a disaster assistance funds and provide certain limited assistance for qualifying expenses of their employees who live or reside in a Presidentially declared disaster area. If the payments are to qualified individuals for qualified expense, these funds can be paid to the employee without taxing the employees on the assistance as income." (Winstead PC)
Want to Attract Millennials? Go Pet Friendly
"15% of large employers make pet insurance available, and some go so far as to subsidize the coverage. Another alternative would be to make employees aware of discounts for pet insurance.... Other popular perks for employers to consider are negotiated discounts on pet products and referral services for pet sitting and dog walking." (Mercer)
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)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Self-Assessment Tool for Public Employers Highlights Common Fringe Benefit Errors
"Form 14581-A includes a series of 11 yes-or-no questions. The first asks whether the employer follows the accountable plan rules when reimbursing employees' business expenses and offers a summary of the three main requirements. The other questions ask whether the employer has included the [specific] employer-provided benefits as wages[.]" (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)
Caregiving's Impact Growing in Importance to Employers (PDF)
"Caregiving ranks among the top ten employee health and wellness benefits priorities for most employers ... More than three-quarters of employers surveyed agree that caregiving will grow in importance to their companies over the next five years." (Northeast Business Group on Health [NEBGH] and AARP)
When Switching to Unlimited PTO, Coordinate with FMLA
"When switching to unlimited paid time off (PTO) for the C-suite, employers should consider their [FMLA] obligations to ensure that FMLA time off, which is typically unpaid, doesn't become 12 weeks of paid leave, management attorneys recommend. And before unlimited PTO takes effect, employers should decide whether to pay out remaining accrued leave or offer a grace period during which employees can use that accrued leave." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
Rover at Work: Pet-Friendly Workplaces?
"Many employers are starting to realize the potential benefits that pet-friendly policies can reap for attraction and retention and are taking Rover into consideration when developing workplace policies and benefits. In light of this, ... employers are beginning to see the value in benefits such as pet insurance (9%), allowing pets in the office full-time (7%) and take your pet to work days (2%). These numbers may seem small, but represent a growing number of employers embracing their employees' personal needs at work." (Willis Towers Watson)
Pregame Meals at Away Venues Are Fully Deductible as De Minimis Fringe Benefits, Tax Court Decides
"Generally, I.R.C. Section 132(e) requires that access to an eating facility be available on substantially the same terms to each member of a reasonably classified group of employees that is not discriminatory in favor of highly compensated employees.... [T]he Tax Court held that providing pregame meals to a group of [Boston Bruins] employees that traveled to away cities to perform business duties was reasonable.... [T]he court states that there were reported discrepancies between 'anticipated and actual meal attendees.' Despite these discrepancies, the Tax Court ruled that, because this was due to cost reduction concerns, there was no discrimination." [Jacobs v. Comm'r, No. 19009-15 (T.C. Memo. June 26, 2017)] (Bloomberg BNA)
What Data Reveals About Unlimited Vacation
"The data proves that on average employees with unlimited PTO plans do in fact take less time off than employees with a set amount of vacation days. This calls for a change in the way HR teams and managers communicate about time off." (Namely)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Form 14581-A: Fringe Benefits Compliance Self-Assessment for Public Employers (PDF)
"The self-assessment tools are designed to help public employers identify areas that indicate potential compliance issues. They are intended to be completed by those responsible for withholding and paying employment taxes and filing required information returns." [June 2017] (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Employees Want Flexible Schedules and Summer Fridays, But Fewer Companies Offer Them
"Sixty-two percent of human resources managers reported their organization offers flexible schedules at this time of year, down from 75 percent in a 2012 survey. About three in 10 employers (29 percent) relax their dress codes in the summer months, compared to 57 percent five years ago. Companies with shorter hours on Fridays also fell to 20 percent, a 43-point decline from 2012." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)
Auto Demos Provided to Employees for Personal Use Are Taxable Fringe Benefits
"Personal use of a demo by an employee is considered a fringe benefit and is taxable as compensation.... If an employee does not qualify for the full exclusion method, the amount of the personal use benefit should be added to an employee's Form W-2.... In addition to the federal tax treatment of this benefit, you also need to consider the state tax treatment, since it varies by state." (Schneider Downs)
Pet Benefits on the Rise
"Pet-friendly employee benefits are ... continuing to rise in popularity. More and more employers are jumping at the idea of implementing pet-friendly policies at work due to the increasing interest from employees.... If you are considering implementing a pet policy at your office, there are a few things you should consider.... If you can't, or are just not ready to pull the trigger on allowing pets at the office, there are other animal-friendly benefits you can offer employees that they will appreciate." (Grooms Benefit Solutions)
Survey Says: Employees Love Voluntary Benefits
"Employee participation rates in voluntary benefits rose across the nation's four major regions in the 2017 benefit year as more employers offer high-deductible health plans (HDHP) ... Voluntary benefit participation rates rose by 567 percent in the Midwest, 208 percent in the South, 138 percent in the West and 59 percent in the Northeast, compared with the 2016 benefit year[.]" (InsuranceNewsNet.com)
Boosting Voluntary Benefits Enrollment Is a Win-Win
"Employers can get a huge return on demonstrating the value of voluntary benefit plans once their employees understand how the coverage works and the risks of not having it.... The key is to incorporate voluntary benefits into your existing communications strategy. Communication channels, like benefit websites, blogs, and other social media platforms, are your best bet when it comes to keeping employees informed." (Frenkel Benefits)
Can a Qualified Transportation Plan Reimburse Employees' Expenses for Carpooling with Their Own Vehicles?
"Because of the seating capacity and mileage-use requirements, most family vehicles used for carpooling cannot qualify as commuter highway vehicles and thus do not qualify for vanpooling benefits. Even if a family minivan or SUV satisfies the seating capacity requirement, a family vehicle generally cannot satisfy the 80% usage requirement." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)
Employee Eldercare Assistance: Not a Bad Idea
"Employers are looking at providing long term care benefits again -- but often the costs are too high to be appealing to a large percentage of the workforce.... Products offering assistance in coordination of complex care needed for parents and grandparents have begun to be considered for rounding out an employee benefits package." (Frenkel Benefits)
Chief Human Resource Officers on Trends Shaping the Workplace, Outdated Policies Governing It, and the Way Forward (PDF)
86 pages. "[Recommendations] of the most senior HR executives working for America's largest employers on ... what can be done from a policy perspective to make the workplace work [include] ... [1] Increased portability of employee benefits that are not tied to tenure with a single employer.... [2] A tax-preferred system in the mold of a 401(k) that would help employees to save and pay off student loan debt sooner.... [3] Companies already providing generous paid leave benefits should have a federal safe harbor from being hampered by the varying requirements of state and local leave mandates.... [4] Protect the Tax Exemption of employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI).... [5] Federal legislation enabling employees to collect defined benefit plan retirement income earlier while permitting them to continue to work for their employer[.]" (HR Policy Association)
Increased Cost-Sharing Makes Voluntary Benefits More Attractive
"As national leaders debate ways to tackle health care troubles, employers may need to get creative in helping employees afford the health care they need. One way they can do that is by offering supplemental benefits.... When handled properly, voluntary benefits are not covered by ERISA ... The plan must be completely voluntary for the employees; premiums must come only from the employees -- no employer contributions allowed; the company must not endorse the plan; and any monies that come back to the employer because of the plan must be limited only to reasonable reimbursements arising from the collection and payment of premiums." (HRDailyAdvisor)
Cycling to Work Can Cut Cancer and Heart Disease
"[D]uring the course of the study, regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%. The cyclists clocked an average of 30 miles per week, but the further they cycled the greater the health boon." (BBC News)
[Guidance Overview] Be Wary of Wellness Plan Designs Purporting to Avoid Income and Employment Taxes
"[IRS Chief Counsel Memo (CCM) 201622031] addresses the tax treatment of three different situations in which wellness benefits result in taxable income to employees.... [CCM 201703013] addresses the tax treatment of fixed indemnity cash payments paid by a wellness plan without regard to the amount of medical expenses incurred by the employee, where the employee is paying premiums to participate in the wellness program." (Jackson Lewis P.C.)
The Surprising Employer Benefit Millennials Really Want
"With the introduction of many flashy workplace benefits geared towards millennials such as trendy decor, student loan repayment assistance, onsite cafes, dog-friendly offices, relocation and travel privileges, improved leave policies, free snacks and more, it's surprising to know that ... 34% of millennials chose health care as the most important benefit their employer can offer. More and more millennials are seeking out companies that have an onsite health clinic." (Forbes)
The Pet-Friendly Workplace: Results of the PAWrometer Survey (PDF)
"[W]hen asked to choose between [benefits such as pet-related PTO, pet bereavement and pawternity leave] and allowing pets in the workplace, most employees said they would prefer other pet-related benefits (51 percent) over allowing pets in the workplace (39 percent).... Millennials are significantly more likely to find value in the positive impact pets at work have on employees (73 percent) and the workplace (70 percent).... [M]ore than one-third of HR decision makers (34 percent) say at least one potential employee has declined an offer due to concerns about pet allergies." (Banfield Pet Hospital)
What Benefits Can Companies Offer Gig Workers?
"[B]usinesses should take care when including gig workers in company activities or programs.... [T]he question of determining whether workers are independent contractors or employees [is] 'very fact-intensive,' meaning that even if your contract makes clear the gig worker is an independent contractor and not an employee, every perk you offer them could affect the relationship's balance." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
Is It Time to Refresh Your Voluntary Benefits?
"Employers can analyze the employee population by conducting an employee census, or other type of workforce evaluation to help determine the group make up. Retirement preparation may be important for the 'baby boomers', technological enhancements and remote access may be more of a priority for Millennials, and supplemental medical benefits more critical for Generation Xers -- all needs which can be incorporated into a voluntary benefits offering." (Strategic Benefit Services)
Design of Transit Benefits Can Increase Employee Engagement
"[M]andates and tax considerations should not be the only driver of transit benefit design. Asking employees what they need to better manage their commutes to work could yield some important insight into how to expand these programs to meet the needs of a broader array of employees.... 69 percent of employers offering employee transit benefit programs reduced their need for parking spaces. 53 percent reduced local traffic congestion. 59 percent improved community relations." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
[Guidance Overview] Transit Plan May Require Use of Debit Card Even If Cash Reimbursement Is Permissible
"[IRS Information Letter 2016-0085] reinforces a fundamental point about qualified transportation plan design, namely, that after assuring that the minimum requirements are met for favorable tax treatment, employers are free to impose additional restrictions.... [T]here are no tax nondiscrimination rules for qualified transportation plans, so employers do not need to consider, for example, whether the restrictions tend to favor more highly compensated employees." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)
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)
IRS Issues 2016 Version of Publication 463 on Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses
"Publication 463 ... is especially detailed and useful in its handling of the deductions for business use of an employee's vehicle. Those deductions will not apply if the employee's expenses are reimbursed under an accountable plan, in which case the employer reimbursements are excluded from income and the vehicle expenses are not deductible by the employee." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

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