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Fringe benefits - transit, discounts, other


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2018 Year in Review: Plus What Lies Ahead in 2019 (PDF)
54 presentation slides. Topics include: [1] ACA Marches On During Appeals; [2] Appealing Employer Exchange Notices; [3] 2018 ACA Reporting Deadline Extended; [4]Insured Nondiscrimination Rules Indefinite Delay; [5] Association Health Plans; [6] Individual Policy and Excepted Benefit HRAs; [7] Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; [8] California Leave Law Updates; [9] San Francisco Ordinance Updates. (ABD Insurance & Financial Services)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Releases Guidance on Nonprofit Transportation Benefits and Parking Tax
"This new tax applies to amounts a tax-exempt organization paid or incurred for [qualified transportation fringes (QTFs)] after December 31, 2017.... What if my organization has less than $1,000 in UBTI and expenses for QTFs? ... We pay a third party for employee parking. How do we determine our parking UBTI? ... We own or lease a parking facility. How do we determine our parking UBTI? ... What does the IRS consider to be a 'reasonable method'? ... How can we reduce the burden of this tax? ... This tax is already in effect. What if we haven't been making estimated tax payments?" (Gray Plant Mooty)
Three Ways Employers Can Provide Student Loan Support
"Employers can support debt burden employees in three ways: [1] Provide information to employees about services and support available to negotiate or consolidate the debt; [2] Offer debt counseling for student loans through a retained service provider; [3] Provide employees with additional income toward their student loan payments through student loan support programs.... [P]roviding employees with additional income toward their student loan payments is currently taxable as income." (Hill, Chesson & Woody)
[Guidance Overview] Guidance on Parking Expenses as Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits
"Notice 2018-99 requires employers to determine the total parking expenses it paid or incurred to provide the parking benefits. Specifically, the Notice provides that the deduction disallowed under Code Section 274(a)(4) involves the expense of providing parking benefits and not the value of the parking provided to employees." (The Wagner Law Group)
The Benefits Beyond Salary You Can -- and Should -- Negotiate for When You Get a New Job
"These eight options ... are not only common to ask for, but also commonly granted... [1] A higher salary ... [2] More vacation time ... [3] The ability to work remotely ... [4] Commuter subsidies ... [5] A flexible schedule ... [6] Health and wellness benefits ... [7] Work devices and related services ... [8] Professional development." (Bustle)
Should Employers Cover Bike-Share and Electric-Scooter Rentals?
"Providing a general transportation or parking stipend to all employees to use however they want would be more inclusive than providing a specific commuter benefit ... The potential employer liability changes dramatically when employees use bikes or scooters during work hours ... It may be better to have employees use a company bike to ensure coverage and control over maintenance and safety issues[.]" (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
[Guidance Overview] IRS Guidance Addresses Tax Cost of Providing Parking to Employees, Even for Tax-Exempt Employers
"[Notice 2018-99] provides a special opportunity for organizations to retroactively reduce or eliminate the tax cost of employee-reserved spots for 2018. Employers have until March 31, 2019 to change their parking arrangements to decrease or eliminate the number of employee-reserved parking spots, which will be given retroactive recognition as of January 1, 2018." (Vorys)
Employee Benefits Trends to Watch in 2019
"Customization of employee benefits ... Location of service delivery ... Creative funding of health plans and their risk ... Digitization of benefits ... Student loan assistance ... Parental perks." (OneDigital Health and Benefits)
Post-TCJA Deduction Disallowance Rules for Meals: Possible 100% Deduction for Snacks Under Code Section 132
"Notice 2018-76 ... confirmed that food and beverages provided during an entertainment activity may qualify for a 50% deduction, even though the 'entertainment expenses' (apart from food and beverages) are 100% disallowed, under the TCJA's 100% disallowance for entertainment expenses (effective after 2017). However, the notice did not discuss on-premises food and beverages, nor did it address Section 132(e) de minimis fringe benefits." (Morgan Lewis)
[Guidance Overview] New Guidance on Tax Reform's Impact on Parking: A Summary for Tax-Exempt Employers
"[N]ew Code Section 512(a)(7) indicates that the cost of employer-provided parking must be added to the employer's unrelated business taxable income (UBTI). However, the Act doesn't address how to determine the amount of the cost of employer-provided parking, and this question had been unanswered ... until the IRS recently issued Notice 2018-99. In addition, Notice 2018-100 provides some relief from underpayment of estimated income tax with respect to UBTI resulting from employer-provided parking." (Baker Newman Noyes)
[Guidance Overview] New Guidance on Tax Reform's Impact on Parking: A Summary for Taxable Employers
"What is the cost of parking when the employer pays a third party for employee parking spots? ... What is the cost of parking provided to employees when employer owns or leases a parking facility? ... Step 1: Calculate the disallowance for reserved employee spots ... Step 2: Determine the primary use of the remaining spots ... Step 3: Calculate the allowance for reserved nonemployee spots ... Step 4: Determine the remaining use and allocate the expenses." (Baker Newman Noyes)
[Guidance Overview] New Guidance for Nonprofits and the Tax on Parking and Public Transit Benefits
"Section 512(a)(7) is intended to place tax-exempt organizations on par with taxable organizations for which such expenditures are now disallowed.... [E]xpenses for parking made available to and primarily used by the general public will not give rise to UBTI under section 512(a)(7) (and it's not too late to take down those 'employee parking only' signs, which can be deemed effective for all of 2018)." (Seyfarth Shaw LLP)
[Guidance Overview] New IRS Guidance Makes Employer-Provided Parking More Costly and Burdensome Than You Might Think
"[Employers should] consider eliminating most, if not all, reserved parking, including spots reserved by places of worship for church staff or even spots reserved for employees as a reward on a rotating basis, such as for the 'employee of the month.' Any changes should be made by March 31, 2019 to take advantage of the retroactive effect.... [E]mployers should consider whether adopting an exemption for reserved parking for employees with special parking needs, such as handicapped parking, is a reasonable position under the Notice." (McDermott Will & Emery)
Reminder: Report Moving Expense Reimbursements as Taxable Income
"Businesses that reimburse employee moving expenses should review their practices in response to changes to the Internal Revenue Code rules on qualified moving expenses.... To qualify for the transition rule, the payments or reimbursements must be for qualified expenses which would have been deductible by the employee if the employee had directly paid them before Jan. 1, 2018. The employee must not have deducted them in 2017." (Solutions Law Press)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Guidance on Parking Expenses for Qualified Transportation Fringes Provides Opportunities for Exempt Organizations
"[If] the employer pays a third party to allow employees to park in the third party's parking lot, and the employees pay for the parking using a pre-tax wage reduction option, the employer's UBTI is based upon the amount of employees' income exclusion. If the employer were to eliminate the pre-tax wage reduction program, the employer would also eliminate the parking expense disallowance and related UBTI. Another opportunity is the special rule enabling many employers who own or lease the parking facility to retroactively reduce the amount of disallowed parking expenses.... Perhaps the biggest opportunity involves the 'primary use test'." (Schneider Downs)
IRS Addresses Examination Issues Raised by Meals Provided for the Convenience of the Employer
"[IRS Chief Counsel Memorandum AM 2018-004] is a clear warning that the IRS will not accept claims of convenience to the employer without question. The CCA is also a roadmap ... For example, the IRS may try to deny the Code Section 119 meal exclusion if: [1] the employer does not have a policy relating to employer-provided meals; [2] the employer has a meal-related policy, but it does not require the employer to provide meals so employees can properly discharge their duties; [3] the employer's policy is not 'reasonably related' to the employer's business goals ... [4] the policy was not communicated to employees; or [5] the policy is not actually implemented or enforced." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2019-02: Standard Mileage Rates for 2019 (PDF)
"The standard mileage rate for transportation or travel expenses is 58 cents per mile for all miles of business use ('business standard mileage rate').... The standard mileage rate is 14 cents per mile for use of an automobile in rendering gratuitous services to a charitable organization under Section 170.... The standard mileage rate is 20 cents per mile for use of an automobile: [1] for medical care described in Section 213; or [2] as part of a move for which the expenses are deductible under Section 217(g).... For automobiles a taxpayer uses for business purposes, the portion of the business standard mileage rate treated as depreciation is 24 cents per mile for 2015, 24 cents per mile for 2016, 25 cents per mile for 2017, 25 cents per mile for 2018, and 26 cents per mile for 2019." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
[Guidance Overview] IRS Provides Limited Clarification for Employee Parking Benefits Provided by Certain Tax-Exempt Employers
"Much of the discussion in Notice 2018-99 centers on situations where the employer pays expenses related to a [parking] lot it owns, pays for use of a parking places, or leases parking facilities from a third party. In each case, once the amount of the expense is determined, the Notice requires that organizations use a reasonable method for determining the expense (and thus, UBTI) attributable to qualified employee parking." (Quarles & Brady LLP)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Guidance Addresses Parking Fringe Expenses and UBTI, Provides Penalty Relief to Tax-Exempt Organizations
"A key part of this guidance is a special rule, enabling many employers to retroactively reduce the amount of their nondeductible parking expenses. Under this rule, employers will have until March 31, 2019, to change their parking arrangements to reduce or eliminate the number of parking spots they reserve for their employees. By making this change, many churches, schools, hospitals and other tax-exempt organizations may be able to reduce their associated UBTI." (Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner)
IRS Explains Disallowance of Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits for Parking
"[Notice 2018‑99] provides a four-step method that will be considered reasonable and states that using the value of employee parking to determine expenses allocable to employee parking in a parking facility owned or leased by the taxpayer is not a reasonable method because Sec. 274(a)(4) disallows a deduction for the expense of providing a QTF, regardless of its value.... [F]or tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2019, a method that fails to allocate expenses to reserved employee spots cannot be a reasonable method." (Journal of Accountancy)
IRS Releases Guidance on Qualified Transportation Benefit Deductions
"[Notice 2018‑99] breaks the treatment of parking expenses into two separate categories: [1] Employer pays a third party for employee parking spots.... [2] Employer owns or leases all or a portion of a parking facility.... The notice then provides for allocating the expenses... The employer reasonably allocates the percentage of the total costs to the reserved employee spaces and this percentage of the total costs is nondeductible. The employer reasonably determines the percentage of the total costs for spaces reserved for non-employees and this percentage of the total costs is deductible." (RSM US)
[Official Guidance] Text of 2018 Instructions for IRS Form 8839: Qualified Adoption Expenses (PDF)
Nov. 26, 2018. "What's New: The maximum credit and the exclusion for employer-provided benefits are both $13,810 per eligible child in 2018. This amount begins to phase out if you have modified adjusted gross income in excess of $207,140 and is completely phased out for modified adjusted gross income of $247,140 or more." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2018-100: Relief from Additions to Tax for Underpayment of Estimated Income Tax for Tax-Exempt Organizations That Provide Certain Qualified Transportation Fringes (PDF)
"This notice provides certain tax-exempt organizations a waiver of the addition to tax under section 6655 of the Internal Revenue Code for underpayment of estimated income tax payments required to be made on or before December 17, 2018, to the extent the underpayment of estimated income tax results from the changes to the tax treatment of qualified transportation fringes ... This relief applies to a tax-exempt organization that [1] provides qualified transportation fringes (as defined in section 132(f)) to an employee for which estimated income tax payments ... would otherwise be required to be made on or before December 17, 2018, and [2] was not required to file a Form 990‑T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, for the taxable year preceding the organization's first taxable year ending after December 31, 2017. This relief is limited to tax-exempt organizations that timely file Form 990-T and timely pay the amount reported for the taxable year for which relief is granted." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2018-99: Parking Expenses for Qualified Transportation Fringes Under Sections 274(a)(4) and 512(s)(7) (PDF)
24 pages. "This notice provides interim guidance for taxpayers to determine the amount of parking expenses for qualified transportation fringes (QTFs) that is nondeductible under Section 274(a)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and for tax-exempt organizations to determine the corresponding increase in the amount of unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) under Section 512(a)(7) attributable to the nondeductible parking expenses....

"This notice also announces that the [Treasury Department and the IRS] intend to publish proposed regulations under Sections 274 and 512 (and under Section 6012 with regard to the exempt organization's related filing requirement). The proposed regulations will include guidance on the determination of nondeductible parking expenses and other expenses for QTFs and the calculation of increased UBTI attributable to QTFs. Until such guidance is issued, taxpayers and tax-exempt organizations that own or lease parking facilities where their employees park may use any reasonable method, as provided in section B of the Interim Guidance on QTF Parking section of this notice, to determine the amount of nondeductible expenses under Section 274(a)(4) or the amount of the increase in UBTI under Section 512(a)(7). Furthermore, until further guidance is issued, taxpayers may rely on the guidance in this notice to determine the amount of nondeductible parking expenses for QTFs under Section 274(a)(4), and tax-exempt organizations may rely on the guidance in this notice to determine the amount of the increase in UBTI under Section 512(a)(7)." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])

[Guidance Overview] IRS Issues Guidance for Determining Nondeductible Amount of Parking Fringe Expenses and Unrelated Business Taxable Income; Provides Penalty Relief to Tax-Exempt Organizations (PDF)
"A key part of this guidance is a special rule, enabling many employers to retroactively reduce the amount of their nondeductible parking expenses. Under this rule, employers will have until March 31, 2019, to change their parking arrangements to reduce or eliminate the number of parking spots they reserve for their employees. By making this change, many churches, schools, hospitals and other tax-exempt organizations may be able to reduce their associated UBTI." [Guidance is found in IRS Notice 2018‑99 and Notice 2018‑100] (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Your Voluntary Benefits Plan May Lead to a Tragic Result
"Programs like legal plans, employee purchase programs, critical illness policies and even pet insurance are making inroads and claiming wallet share from employees at the expense of vital insurance like short-term and long-term disability programs." (United Benefit Advisors)
From Dental Coverage to Parental Leave: Benefit Trends for Part-Time Employees
"For part-time employees working fewer than 30 hours per week, the most popular health care-related benefits provided include: Health care insurance -- 54%; Prescription drug coverage -- 53%; Dental and vision care -- 52%; Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) -- 47%; Health savings accounts (HSAs) -- 33%." (International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP])
Voluntary Benefits: From 'Nice-To-Have' to 'Must-Have'
"[S]ome younger workers want help with student loans just as much or more than they want a match on a 401(k).... By offering identity theft protection services as a voluntary benefit, you provide [employees] the means to safeguard their finances and digital presence.... Offering progressive benefits like pet insurance can communicate to your employees that you respect their personal lives ... Over a third of employees surveyed ... expressed that [gym or fitness center memberships are] on their voluntary benefits wish list." (bswift)
Certain Fringe Benefits for Not-for-Profits Taxed as Unrelated Business Income
"Effective for amounts paid or incurred after December 31, 2017... certain employee fringe benefits for not-for-profits are treated as unrelated business income unless they would otherwise be deductible ... These fringe benefit expenses include any: [1] Qualified transportation fringe benefit; or [2] Parking facility used in connection with qualified parking." (WithumSmith+Brown, PC)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Rev. Proc. 2018-57: Inflation-Adjusted Limits for 2019 (PDF)
"For taxable years beginning in 2019,
  • "the dollar amount in effect under Section 45R(d)(3)(B) is $27,100. This amount is used under Section 45R(c) for limiting the small employer health insurance credit and under Section 45R(d)(1)(B) for determining who is an eligible small employer for purposes of the credit....
  • "the dollar limitation under Section 125(i) on voluntary employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements is $2,700....
  • "the monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(A) regarding the aggregate fringe benefit exclusion amount for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle and any transit pass is $265. The monthly limitation under Section 132(f)(2)(B) regarding the fringe benefit exclusion amount for qualified parking is $265....
  • "under Section 137(a)(2), the amount that can be excluded from an employee's gross income for the adoption of a child with special needs is $14,080.... under Section 137(b)(1) the maximum amount that can be excluded from an employee's gross income for the amounts paid or expenses incurred by an employer for qualified adoption expenses furnished pursuant to an adoption assistance program for other adoptions by the employee is $14,080."
(Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Hot Topics in Total Rewards
"Finding the right recognition vendor, solving the pay gap, working with compensation committees, and finding the right performance management are all challenging puzzles but solving them will reap great rewards for the company." (Findley)
2018 Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey (PDF)
Infographic. "Finding the right benefits balance is a matter of steady improvement, not instant perfection. But getting there, and staying there, requires strategic investments in your people's total wellbeing, including their health, financial security and career growth -- at the right cost structure." (Gallagher)
How to Max Out Millennial Enrollment
"The younger workers are much more likely than their Generation X and Baby Boomer colleagues to prefer speaking to a benefits advisor in person or on the phone.... [W]orkers of all ages -- but especially younger millennials -- are crying out for a simple, modern and personal way to understand and enroll in their benefits. You can help meet that need with the right mash-up of high-tech and high-touch tools and strategies." (InsuranceNewsNet.com)
Third Circuit Applies Materiality Endorsement Standard in DOL Voluntary Plan Safe Harbor Analysis
"[T]he Third Circuit's analysis here considers factors -- such as representations made by an employer's broker -- to which an employer expecting to rely on the safe harbor may not be paying close attention. Interestingly, the court also indicates that the employer's selection of only one provider of supplemental disability insurance (as opposed to offering individuals a menu of options) worked against the employer under the Third Circuit's 'material involvement' endorsement standard." [McCann v. Unum Provident, No. 16-2014 (3d Cir. Oct. 5, 2018)] (Thomson Reuters Practical Law)
[Guidance Overview] NYC Council Passes Bills Expanding Lactation Room Requirements for Employers
"The first bill ... would require covered employers to provide employees needing to express breast milk with access to a lactation room, as well as to a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage, 'in reasonable proximity' to the employee's work area.... The second bill ... would require covered employers to develop and implement a written policy regarding the provision of a lactation room, to be distributed to all new employees upon hire. The policy would be required to ... identify a process by which employees could request a lactation room." (Proskauer)
U.S. Employers Taking Measures to Modernize Total Rewards Programs
"Nearly two-thirds of employers (66%) have made at least one change to their Total Rewards program; of those who haven't, two out of three are considering doing so this year, with the other third considering changes over the next three years. These changes include: Greater flexibility.... Health and wellbeing benefits.... Personalized communication.... Technology.... Transparency." (Willis Towers Watson)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Clarifies Role of Gross-Ups When Taxes Are Assessed on an Earlier Year's Fringe Benefits
"[Program Managers Technical Advice (PMTA) 2018‑015] reminds readers that the employer is legally responsible for withholding both the employer's and employee's portions of FICA tax and [federal income tax withholding (FITW)]. If the employer fails to withhold, does not withhold the correct amount, or withholds and does not remit the taxes to the IRS, the employer is liable for the payment of the FITW and FICA." (Ogletree Deakins)
2018 Small Business Benefits Study
"4 in 10 small business workers depend on their workplace benefits for financial security. Higher out-of-pocket medical costs impact workforce well-being. Small businesses are addressing workforce health with wellness initiatives and flexible work arrangements. People want to work for companies that care." (Guardian)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Notice Takes a Bite Out of the Business Expense Deductions for Meals, Entertainment
"[Notice 2018‑76] explained that, under Code Section 274(k), no deduction is allowed for food and beverage expense unless the expense is not lavish or extravagant under the circumstances and the taxpayer or an employee of the taxpayer is present at the furnishing of the food and beverage. If those requirements are satisfied, the amount of the deduction is limited to 50 percent of the amount of the food and beverage expense under Code Section 274(n)(1)." (Jackson Lewis P.C.)
Crafting Quality Fringe Benefit Language in Your CBA
"Developing clear, consistent and concise CBA language aligned with Plan rules is critical to minimizing legal and audit costs, safeguarding member benefits and preserving bargaining party relationships. The bargaining process is a complex beast, and opposite sides of the table may have different objectives. The first step in getting the language right is finding common ground." (Lindquist LLP)
[Guidance Overview] IRS Allows Tax-Free Payment of Moving Expenses Paid in 2018 If Incurred in 2017
"The IRS has now indicated an employer can directly pay or reimburse an employee's qualified moving expenses in 2018 if the expenses were incurred prior to Jan. 1, 2018. In other words, in determining whether employer-paid moving expenses are nontaxable, the IRS will look to the date the expenses are incurred, not when the amounts are paid or reimbursed by the employer." (Lockton)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2018-75: Guidance Under Section 132(g) for the Exclusion from Income of Qualified Moving Expense Reimbursements (PDF)
"This notice provides that the suspension of the exclusion from income provided by section 132(a)(6) under section 132(g)(2) does not apply to amounts received directly or indirectly by an individual in 2018 from an employer for expenses incurred in connection with a move occurring prior to January 1, 2018, that would have been deductible as moving expenses under section 217 of the Code if they had been paid directly by the individual prior to January 1, 2018[.]" (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Do Employers Really Know What Employees Want?
"Eighty-one percent of employees value retirement plans, but only 60 percent of employers offer it. While 60 percent of employees say it's important to have life insurance available to them at work, only 48 percent of employers offer it. When looking at critical illness coverage, 44 percent of employees view it as important but just 24 percent of employers offer this benefit. Only 21 percent of employers offer long-term care insurance but almost half, 46 percent, of employees feel the benefit is important." (LIMRA)
Lifestyle Spending Accounts Add an Option to the Benefits Mix
"[Lifetime Spending Accounts (LSAs)] differ from other spending accounts in two key ways: [1] LSAs are funded by employers with money that is taxable as income to employees when they spend it, unlike the tax advantages of HSAs, FSAs and HRAs, for which withdrawn funds are not taxable. [2] Employers decide how employees can spend their LSA funds, and acceptable products and services are managed through the account vendor's system. Many employers see this ability to limit and direct employee spending of employer-provided money as a compelling reason to offer LSAs." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
IRS Explains Consequences of Employer's Tax Payments for Prior Year Fringe Benefits
"[IRS Chief Counsel Memorandum 2018-15] explains that the employer's satisfaction of its FICA and income tax withholding obligations in 2018 does not create additional compensation or wages for the employee for 2016. The employee receives no credit for the employer's belated payment of its income tax withholding liability, so the payment has no effect on the employee's 2016 income tax liability. The employer must report the employee's additional income for 2016 (the value of the taxable fringe benefit) on Form W-2c, but that form must not report the employer's payment as federal income tax withheld, or increase the employee's wages because of the employer's payment." (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)
Tax Treatment of Employer-Provided Fringe Benefits for International Assignees
"[IRS Chief Counsel Memorandum 201810007 [addressed] ... [1] Whether the value of tax equalization services is included in employee income; [2] Whether the value of tax preparation services is included in employee income; [3] Whether such taxable benefits are subject to income tax withholding; [4] Whether such taxable benefits are subject to [FICA] tax withholding; [5] How taxable benefits are valued." (Ogletree Deakins)
Transportation Fringe Benefits Provided by Non-Profits Are Now Taxable
"The impact of this new provision will effectively create unrelated business taxable income subject to a flat unrelated business income tax (UBIT) of 21%. This applies even when the organization has no unrelated trade or business and is paying these specific fringe benefits to employees who are conducting the charitable activities of the organization." (EisnerAmper)
One Sure-Fire Way to Engage Employees in Voluntary Benefits
"One way is to understand what employees might need given their life stage, family situation or other variables. To help employees sort this out, here are few scenarios of how voluntary benefits could help employees[.]" (Voya)
'Pawternity' Leave Acknowledges Pet Owners' Needs
"Millennials are the primary pet-owning generation, slightly edging out Baby Boomers (35 percent and 32 percent, respectively ... Organizations that don't allow pets in the workplace may still offer pet-supportive benefits -- pet health insurance, pet bereavement leave, time off to take a pet to the vet ... That can translate into engagement and retention." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
Does Your Organization Offer 'Green' Benefits?
"[S]ome examples you could implement: [1] Help employees to have a greener commute.... [2] Help employees have a smaller environmental footprint outside of work.... [3] Have ways for employees to make a positive impact on the environment." (HR Daily Advisor)
A Retirement Perk for Deeply in Debt Millennials
"More than 100 companies put some money toward employees' student loans ... So far, companies have been offering anywhere between $500 and a few thousand dollars a year toward student loan payments. That money is treated as taxable income, a drawback for all parties that may explain why more employers aren't adding the benefit.... Abbott's twist works around the tax penalty, because 401k payments are tax-free." (Bloomberg)
Construction Industry's Ongoing Labor Shortage: Consider Implementing Non-Monetary Benefits
"Studies show that employers that devote just one-to-two percent of their payroll to an employee recognition program can improve retention. While working on a jobsite might not lend itself toward traditional notions of employee recognition, recognition does not have to take place in an office. Contractors can offer meals, snacks, coffee, a new training course, and positive reinforcement as part of an employee recognition program." (Jackson Lewis P.C.)
Paying Off Employees' Student Loans Gains Traction Among Employers
"[S]tudent loan repayment programs entail the employer making a monthly or other periodic payment to the holder of the student loan.... [M]any employers offer new hires the right to participate immediately upon starting employment.... Employers who are considering implementing a student loan repayment program should be aware that there are practical issues that will need to be addressed[.]" (Blank Rome LLP)
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
"[M]any companies even offer discounted pet insurance for employees.... A common complaint about pet insurance is that the things that it covers are limiting to the point of the policy being relatively useless when the big dollars are due.... [T]he average monthly cost is about $27 for cats and $43 for dogs." (Financial Finesse)
[Guidance Overview] What Are Creditable Benefits for New York's Wage Parity Act?
"The Act requires a minimum basic wage (cash) of the applicable New York State minimum wage plus additional wages or supplemental wages (i.e., benefits) equal to another $4.09 per hour in NYC or $3.22 per hour in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties ... The goal for agencies is to deliver the WPA package in a way that is tax advantaged.... [which] requires complying not only with the WPA, but also with many other federal and state laws ... [F]or example, if a cell phone plan reimbursement program meets all the standards to be tax qualified under the Internal Revenue Code, it is not a creditable cost towards the WPA Package." (FordHarrison)
What the Employee Benefits Business Can Learn from Retail Industry
"[As] employer health plan design continues to shift costs onto employees, and more retirement plans move from a defined benefit model to a defined contribution model, the 'best-seller' benefits are no longer enough to differentiate employers in the eyes of workers.... [T]he greatest opportunity for employers, in terms of both talent attraction and cost-effectiveness, lies in more non-traditional voluntary benefits that have begun to emerge." (Benefitfocus)
Is Wining and Dining Still Worth It? A Look at Meals and Entertainment Deduction Today
"In the pre-TCJA law, meals provided by an employer at an on premise eating facility were exempt from former Code Sec. 274(n)(1) ... if they were excludable from the employee's income as a de minimis fringe benefit under Code Sec. 132(e)(2).... As a result of the TCJA ... [1] For amounts paid between December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2025, these meals are now subject to the 50% disallowance under Code Sec. 274(n)(1). [2] From January 1, 2026 on, no amount paid for employee meals, whether provided either for the convenience of the employer or at an employer-operated eating facility, will be deductible." (WithumSmith+Brown, PC)
No Fringe Benefit Left Behind: Incentivizing Employer-Provided Student Loan Repayments
"In February 2017, a bill was introduced to amend Section 127 to extend the tax exclusion of employer-provided education assistance to include payments of qualified education loans by an employer to either an employee or directly to a lender.... [T]he exclusion under this bill would still be limited to $5,250. In May 2017, a second bill was introduced to extend the tax exclusion to include payments of qualified loans and to increase the maximum amount excludible from $5,250 to $10,000." (Bloomberg BNA)
Get Ready for the Digital Future of Total Rewards
"AI systems ... will be able to: [1] Match an employee's family status, age, career stage, life preferences and aspirations with the organization's total rewards opportunities, to help employers refine their rewards offerings. [2] Consider a worker's age, education, career stage, job, skills, work unit and location to customize rewards communications for content, style, language and delivery medium (text, e-mail, phone, chatbot, mail, handout, brochure or pictures)." (Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM])
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Notice 2018-42: Update of 2018 Standard Mileage Rates Notice (PDF)
"Public Law 115-97 suspends all miscellaneous itemized deductions that are subject to the two-percent of adjusted gross income floor under Section 67, including unreimbursed employee travel expenses. This suspension applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. Thus, the business standard mileage rate listed in Notice 2018-03 cannot be used to claim an itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee travel expenses during the suspension." [Also see the IRS news release at IR-2018-127.] (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
 
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