Payroll Legal Alert

Q: An employee carries a company-issued smartphone so he can respond to emergencies over the weekend. He can usually resolve an issue with a phone call. How should we pay him—for the time he’s responding to an emergency or for all the time he has the phone?

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Reflecting a drop in gas prices, the IRS’ standard mileage rate—which you may use to reimburse employees who drive their own cars on business—drops to 56¢ a mile for 2014, down from 56.5¢.

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You’re not out of the 2013 woods yet. In a Program Manager Technical Advice memorandum, the IRS explains that if you fail to provide employees with Forms W-2 and payees with Forms 1099, you can be socked with a penalty.

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You can go some way toward meeting the Affordable Care Act’s requirements that your group plan provide minimum value and is affordable by setting up health reimbursement accounts or health flexible spending accounts for employees. But according to new IRS guidance, these accounts must be integrated into your group health plan.

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The ABCs of HRAs, FSAs and HSAs: It can be difficult to pick your way through the alphabet soup of group health plan add-ons, such as HRAs, FSAs and health savings accounts (HSAs). To help you along, this chart lists the characteristics of these accounts and how the health care reform law affects each.

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Q: A new employee must now pay back money she received from her old employer as a Section 127 educational benefit. We will assume this debt as part of our hiring agreement. The hiring manager said that since this was originally a tax-free benefit, nothing is taxable. This doesn’t sound right to me. Who’s correct?

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NOTE: Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays as observed in the District of Columbia are taken into account to determine due dates. Under the federal deposit rules, you’re allowed a deposit shortfall of the greater of $100 or 2% of your tax liability.

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Regardless of what you call it, tips are amounts customers willingly determine and leave of their own accord; service charges, sometimes called automatic tips, are added to the bill. Tips are taxable when employees report them to their employers; service charges are immediately taxable. The IRS will begin enforcing this rule on Jan. 1, 2014.

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Question: Employees have three retirement incentives from which to choose: The company picks up their health benefit contributions for three years, they can take a lump-sum payment that equals our single premium rate for up to three years or they can keep their current health benefits and get a prorated cash payout. What’s reportable on their W-2s?

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Question: An employee who was let go last month requested an early 2013 W-2. I know we have 30 days to comply with his request. What notation should we put on the form to show that it’s not an “official form”?

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