News & Articles

Labor Shortage: Unlock Solutions by Evaluating Your Employment Value Proposition

Posted on Wed, Jun 02, 2021

In normal market conditions, people who've been unemployed due to an economic slump are generally eager to take a job when the economy perks up. But times are far from normal in many places and industries. One of the most pressing concerns employers face today is labor quality and availability, according to findings from The CFO Survey for the first quarter of 2021. (See "CFOs Disclose Top Concerns and Employment Outlook" at right).

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Tags: Hiring, Employees, Team Member

Gen Z May Change How You Manage Employees

Posted on Mon, Sep 10, 2018
Is your workplace ready for Generation Z? Lately, many demographers and generation-focused marketing experts have been vocal about what they observe in Gen Z, the newest additions to the job applicant pool. 
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Tags: Employees, Gen Z

Pull the Plug on Employee Theft

Posted on Tue, Jul 24, 2018

Not all crooks roam the streets at night. Some might be roaming your company hallways, stealing cash, forging or altering checks, and pilfering your inventory and property.

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Tags: Small Business, Employees, Theft

Build a Gold Medal Staff

Posted on Wed, Nov 08, 2017

Top employees are like gold-medal athletes -- motivated, well trained people who are willing to make personal sacrifices for the team.

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Tags: Business, Employees, Key Employees

Examine Backgrounds Before You Hire

Posted on Fri, Feb 24, 2017

Back before society became so mobile, checking the backgrounds of potential employees was pretty much a matter of asking around the neighborhood: Were the applicants honest? Reliable? Hardworking?

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Tags: Hiring Tips, Hiring, Employees

Seven Strategies for Better Results with Employees

Posted on Mon, Sep 19, 2016
Successful managers and supervisors know how and when to be assertive. They communicate their needs in a way that earns them respect and gets results.

Let's say you need a budgeting project done by Friday. Here are seven strategies to help improve your assertiveness skills so you can get more done:

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Tags: Employers, Employees, Communication

Using Dual Monitors Saves Paper and Time

Posted on Fri, Jul 22, 2016

If you and your employees spend hours a day working at computers, here is an easy way to save time and resources, as well as increase productivity. It may sound excessive, but most people who have tried it, can't imagine working any other way. It involves using dual monitors. By adding a second monitor to your computer, you can avoid much of the wasted printing you now do. But that's only the beginning.

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Tags: Savings, Technology, Employees, Productivity

Building the Workforce of Tomorrow Starts Today

Posted on Mon, May 02, 2016

Attracting and retaining qualified employees is a top concern for U.S. businesses, according to the Duke University / CFO magazine Global Business Outlook survey for the first quarter of 2016. Each year, thousands of positions go unfilled, often because job applicants don't have the requisite skills or training.

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Tags: Hiring, Employees

Making the Most of a Flexible Spending Arrangement

Posted on Sat, Nov 01, 2014

A health care flexible spending account (FSA) is an attractive fringe benefit for employees. Typically, a participating employee allocates part of his or her salary to a special account that is used to pay for qualified health care expenses. The employee chooses which expenses to pay during the year and saves tax on the deal because the contributions are not subject to income or payroll taxes.

Favorable IRS Rules

In a welcome move for employers and employees, the IRS relaxed the rules involved in tax-saving flexible spending accounts. Employees are able to get an extra 2 1/2 months after year-end to spend the money set aside in their accounts before they lose it. (IRS Notice 2005-42) In order to take advantage of the grace period, however, employers must amend FSA plans by December 31 to permit the extra 2 1/2 months -- through March 15 of the following year (this assumes the FSA plan operates on a calendar-year, which is generally the case). Employees can use unspent year-end balances to reimburse themselves for qualified expenses incurred within the grace period.

As an alternative to the 2 1/2 month grace period rule, your employer can amend its healthcare FSA plan to allow you to carry over up to $500 of any unused balance from the current year to the following year. (Health care FSA plans can offer either the grace period rule or the $500 carryover privilege, but not both.) The $500 carryover privilege is only allowed for health care FSAs (not dependent-care FSAs).

Essential to understand: The use-it-or-lose-it rule still exists, but the grace period and the $500 carryover rules allow employees more time to use FSA balances.


In addition to health care expenses, an FSA can also be established for dependent care expenses up to an annual limit of $5,000 per employee.

Here's how an employer-sponsored FSA works: You make an annual election to contribute a designated amount of your salary to a personal FSA. Contributions to fund the FSA are withheld from your paychecks. Then, you use the FSA dollars to reimburse yourself for uninsured medical expenses (insurance deductibles, co-payments, dental care, prescriptions and vision care, etc.).

Pre-Tax Dollars

The total amount withheld from your paychecks for the year is treated as a salary reduction for federal income tax, Social Security, and Medicare purposes (usually for state income tax purposes too). FSA reimbursements for qualified medical expenses are tax-free to you.

This arrangement allows you to pay out-of-pocket medical costs with pretax dollars. In effect, that's the same as getting an income tax deduction with the added attraction of cutting your Social Security and Medicare tax bills. The tax savings can really add up (the worksheet below can show you how).

What's more, because an FSA reduces adjusted gross income, it may make you eligible for other valuable tax benefits. However, unless an employer takes certain steps to amend its plan, any amounts contributed to the account and not spent by the end of the year are forfeited to the employer (see the right-hand box for more information.)

Similarly, FSAs can be valuable to employers, since they can be used to attract and retain top-flight talent. The contributions are not subject to payroll taxes and the savings from the employer's portion of payroll taxes are generally enough to cover the administrative costs.

Limits and Additional Details

For companies with FSAs, enrollment is generally only open to employees once a year. On the application form, you designate how much to deduct from your paycheck and deposit into the account.

If you don't enroll in your employer's FSA plan, you can't collect any tax savings. These savings are not just a timing difference -- they are permanent. However, there are limits. For 2014, the maximum amount you can contribute to a health care FSA is limited to $2,500.

Reminder: Due to the "use it or lose it" feature of FSAs, check to see if your employer has amended your organization's plan to offer the 2 1/2 month grace period or the $500 carryover privilege. If not, at the end of the year, make sure you use up all funds by making routine dental visits, scheduling elective procedures and refilling prescriptions.


WORKSHEET

To Estimate FSA Tax Savings

Use this worksheet to estimate the amount of taxes you could save by participating in an FSA plan. Note: The savings estimated are permanent, not just a deferral of taxes.

1. Enter the amount you would contribute annually to a health care FSA. For 2014, there is a health care FSA contribution limit of $2,500. $_______
2. Enter the amount you would contribute annually to a dependent care FSA. The maximum that can be contributed is $5,000 for each year. (If you are married, that amount represents the combined limit for both you and your spouse). $_______
3. Enter as a decimal your expected marginal federal tax rate

________

4. If FSA contributions are treated as salary reductions under your state's income tax rules, enter as a decimal your expected marginal state tax rate. (Otherwise, enter zero on this line.)

________

5. Enter as a decimal the marginal rate for Social Security and Medicare taxes on your salary. For 2014, the withholding rate for these taxes is 7.65 percent of salary up to $117,000. ___________
6. Your estimated tax savings from contributing to the FSA would be: (Line 1 plus Line 2) times (Line 3 plus Line 4 plus Line 5) $_______
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Tags: Healthcare, EHTC Article, Expenses, Newsletter, Articles, FSA, fringe benefit, Flexible Spending Account, Employees

Answers to Questions about Wage Garnishment

Posted on Wed, Oct 22, 2014

More than one in ten working Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 had their wages garnished in 2013, according to a recent study performed by payroll service company ADP. Many people associate wage garnishment with "deadbeat dads" who owe spousal and child support. But ADP's study found that many debtors were delinquent on taxes, credit cards, medical bills and student loans -- not support payments.

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Tags: EHTC Article, Employers, Income, Wage Garnishment, Newsletter, Articles, Payroll, Taxes, Employees