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Payroll Legal Alert

The W-2 year-end process is burdensome enough. The last thing you need to worry about is back-up withholding from payments made to independent contractors and filing Form 1099-MISC. Here’s what you need to know for the 2012 filing season.

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Next year is shaping up to be complicated for the IRS. The question: Should the IRS issue the withholding tables based on what the law says is supposed to happen on Jan. 1—the expiration of most income tax rates—or keep the rates the same, and assume that Congress will come to some agreement about the rate structure?

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States have their own W-2 e-filing thresholds and specifications. Note: To date, some states haven’t released their W-2 e-filing information. In addition, states can change their e-filing requirements at any time. To get the full story, contact your state tax department.

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The IRS has asked the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear U.S. v. Quality Stores, Inc., a case that addresses the question of whether severance pay is FICA taxable.

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Payroll reporting agents are service bureaus and other businesses that can handle all of your payroll duties, including depositing taxes and filing forms. New guidance from the IRS is designed to help you keep tabs on your reporting agent.

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Don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour, to standard time, at 2 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 4. Employees working the graveyard shift will actually work nine hours and will need to be paid for nine hours’ work.

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Question: One of our affiliated companies filed for bankruptcy protection. As a result, the company’s assets were frozen and everyone was let go. Unfortunately, Payroll didn’t impute the excess group-term life insurance into employees’ income. Must we still report the excess group-term life as income on employees’ W-2s?

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Who needs Halloween when year-end seems to come up like a witch riding on a broomstick—all at once. Take a few minutes to stir things up now and your Payroll cauldron won’t bubble over in December.

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If an employer retains complete control over whether to pay a bonus and the amount of the bonus, then it can be excluded from an employee’s regular rate as a discretionary bonus. But both parts of this test count equally. Recently, a federal trial court ruled that bonuses that always equaled $50 failed the second part of the test.

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For a long time, damages employees received under the FMLA weren’t considered payroll taxable because courts read the FMLA’s unique damages provision—which mandates damages equal to lost pay—as not being the same as taxable back pay. A federal trial court has now turned this reasoning on its head.

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