Payroll Legal Alert

Question: We run a rural health clinic. We know that payments made under certain programs that encourage health care professionals to work in underserved areas are tax-free. Do these payments fall into that category?

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Q: A client has two stores that are separate franchises. Both stores share employees, including the store manager. How can we calculate overtime when an employee works at both stores, and how do we allocate those hours between the stores?

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Credit-reduction states are listed on Schedule A of the 2011 Form 940. If you do business in one of those 20 states, and you receive a balance-due notice from the IRS, don’t despair.

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Payroll expense is a usually a company’s largest deductible expense. That’s a huge impact on the bottom line. But there’s a world of difference between payroll and corporate taxes, according to consultant Gretchen Inouye, CPP.

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With workforces lean, it’s important to squeeze every bit of productivity out of employees. But squeeze too hard by not providing employees with state-mandated meal or rest breaks, and you’re likely to face a lawsuit. Two recent cases illustrate.

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The beginning of the school year can be fraught with stress and tension for kids and their parents, too. Result: less productive and often absent employees. Reminder: The federal FMLA doesn’t cover employees who take time off for school visits or to care for kids who aren’t seriously ill but who must stay home from school. Some state laws do.

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Payroll isn’t an easy subject to master, so it’s a safe bet that employees in your company don’t have a clue about what goes on in your office. That makes explaining key payroll changes to employees difficult. Tips from two payroll managers at large organizations:

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Q: If an employer underwithheld income taxes by not using an employee’s W-4 form properly, and the employee is assessed interest and penalties when he files his 1040, can he hold the employer responsible for the interest and penalties, or even the underwithholding?

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Question: Our company contracts with an employee who quit and started his own business. We know he had a child support withholding order in place and that the order remains in effect. Must we continue to withhold child support?

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The Affordable Care Act health care reform law limits employees’ pretax contributions into health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to $2,500 for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31. The IRS has now clarified whose taxable year counted—the employee’s, the employer’s or the cafeteria plan’s.

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