The employer mandate, sometimes known as the “play or pay” clause of the ACA, imposes penalties on Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) if any of their full-time employees purchases individual coverage at the Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as an Exchange) and receives a premium tax credit while doing so for any month in the calendar year, beginning in 2015.
On November 2, 2017, the IRS announced its program to notify employers of a potential penalty under this provision for calendar year 2015.
Posted on November 16, 2017 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Kushner & Company President and CEO Gary Kushner was recently highlighted in SHRM’s video series HR Storytellers.
Posted on October 31, 2017 by Ian Thrasher
With IRS Notice 2017-64, we now have the applicable retirement and health and welfare benefit limits for 2018. Many (but not all) have increased from 2017. Earlier this year, the IRS announced the 2018 Health Savings Account (HSA) limits and plan designs.
Posted on October 23, 2017 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
The Internal Revenue Service has released Rev Proc 2017-36 to implement index adjustments in 2018 for certain Affordable Care Act (ACA) contribution percentages used for purposes of determining affordability under the employer shared responsibility mandate. These percentages are also used to satisfy any of the three safe harbors available to employers.
Posted on September 05, 2017 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
It’s always a good idea to keep your retirement plan as clean as possible by maintaining good employee records. In the event you do lose track of a plan participant, below are some suggested ways to locate former employees.
Posted on April 12, 2017 by Marla Shires, QKA, Account Manager-Retirement Plans
In a new IRS Notice, the period to provide the required notice to all participants of a new Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA) is extended until no sooner than 90 days after the issuance of such guidance.
Posted on March 06, 2017 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
For the past few years, health plan sponsors have been required to complete an annual online disclosure form with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), reflecting whether the prescription drug coverage offered under the sponsor’s plan(s) is “creditable” (at least as good as Medicare Part D’s prescription drug benefit) or “noncreditable” (not as good). The plan sponsor must complete the disclosure within 60 days after the beginning of the plan year if it has any employees or dependents eligible for and receiving Part D prescription drug benefits.
Posted on January 19, 2017 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
In his January 13, 2017 Op-Ed piece, David Brooks argues that health care markets can, but don’t often work when consumers “purchase” health care. He’s not talking about health care coverage, but the actual receipt of health-related services. Yet he misses the most crucial reason that the delivery of health care services is not a market.
Posted on January 16, 2017 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
With the December 7, 2016 passage of the long-awaited Cures Act and President Obama having signed it into law, many small employers and their employees can now rejoice that an onerous IRS ruling is overturned. Starting January 1, 2017, small employers that do not offer group health insurance to their employees will have a tool to provide a tax-favored reimbursement to their employees. And more good news: there’s transition relief retroactive for all plan years beginning on or before December 31, 2016 that the onerous penalties announced by the IRS in Notice 2015-17 are no longer in effect.
Posted on December 08, 2016 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
The IRS has issued Notice 2016-70, extending the due date for 1095-B and 1095-C forms to be delivered to employees from January 31, 2017 until March 2, 2017. However, the Notice also points out that the regular due date for filing those same 1095-Bs and Cs with the IRS (covered by the 1094-B or 1094-C) remains the same: February 28, 2017 if filing paper copies or March 31, 2017 if filing electronically.
Posted on November 21, 2016 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
The IRS has just released the new 1094-C and 1095-C forms for 2016 for employer reporting of health coverage both to employees and to the IRS. There are many notable differences from the first year’s forms in 2015 that employers will need to prepare for now.
Posted on October 05, 2016 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Employers are beginning to receive new ACA Marketplace notices. As you can well imagine, employers receiving these are often confused and sometimes frightened since the notice also contains language about IRS penalties. The employer shared responsibility penalties that may be imposed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are substantial, and no one wants to be responsible for failing to take action that may preclude an assessment of penalties.
Posted on September 30, 2016 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
We’re often asked if an employer can post a plan’s Summary Plan Description (SPD) on its company’s intranet website. The answer is a qualified yes, as long as certain rules are followed. The Department of Labor (DOL) provides a safe harbor for electronic disclosure of plan documents including the use of an intranet. The safe harbor sets forth general requirements for all electronic disclosures and additional requirements for recipients that do not have computer access at work.
Posted on September 15, 2016 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
If you were considering adopting a brand new safe harbor 401(k) plan, or were contemplating adding 401(k) features to an existing profit sharing plan, the deadline to do so is fast approaching. You would need to adopt and implement the plan by no later than October 1, 2016 if your plan was to operate on a calendar year and you wanted the safe harbor to be effective for the remainder of 2016. If you wish to turn a “traditional” 401(k) plan—that is, a non-safe harbor 401(k)—into a safe harbor plan, the deadline to do so is January 1, 2017 for an effective date in 2017.
Posted on September 14, 2016 by Lori Kiess, Account Manager-Retirement Plans
The IRS has issued a bulletin notifying filers of Form 1094 and 1095 information returns that the Affordable Care Act Information Returns (AIR) Program system for accepting electronic returns will remain up and running after the June 30, 2016 filing deadline.
Posted on July 07, 2016 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
In the June 1, 2016 issue of Workforce Magazine, Kushner & Company’s President and CEO Gary Kushner proposes fixes to the Cadillac Tax on employer health plans. These fixes include utilizing the metal tiers of health coverage offered, removing health care FSA, HRA and HSA contributions from the calculation, and only assessing the Cadillac Tax on platinum level plans.
Posted on June 15, 2016 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
There’s both good news and bad news for employers in the final rule issued on May 17, 2016. The good news is that compared to the proposed regulations, the DOL did address some employer concerns in the final regulation. For example, a key issue for many employers, particularly small to mid-sized ones, was that the duties test for the executive, professional, and administrative exemptions would be significantly modified. It was not changed at all from the current standards. The bad news—that’s a longer list.
Posted on May 18, 2016 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
On April 29, 2016, the IRS issued the HSA contribution limits and HDHP design requirements for 2017.
Posted on April 29, 2016 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
In its reporting of IRS Announcement 2016-16 , the National Small Business Association (NSBA) credited Kushner & Company’s President and CEO Gary Kushner with playing a critical role in Treasury’s withdrawal of a proposed regulation that, if finalized, would have significantly damaged a small employer’s ability to structure a retirement plan for the owner and his or her employees. The NSBA article went on to describe why the initial proposal was so harmful , and what it would have meant in reduced or completely eliminated retirement benefits for small business employees.
Posted on April 27, 2016 by Ian Thrasher
On a bimonthly schedule, Gary Kushner, our President and CEO, is invited to write a column for Workforce Management Magazine. In the April edition, he reviews many of the Q&A’s in IRS Notice 2015-87 issued at the end of last year.
Posted on April 01, 2016 by Ian Thrasher
Under the ACA Sections 6055 and 6056, all Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) [that is, employers with 50 or more full-time employees plus full-time equivalents] as well as all employers of any size whose health plan(s) were self-funded were to begin distributing IRS Form 1095-C to employees by February 1, 2016 (since January 31st was a Sunday). Those same employers were to file the IRS Form 1094-C along with a copy of each individual 1095-C with the IRS by no later than February 29, 2016 if filing by paper, or by March 31, 2016 if filing electronically. Similarly, for non-ALEs with fully insured plans, the insurance carriers were responsible for preparing and distributing 1095-B forms to employees and filing the 1094-B along with a copy of the individual 1095-Bs on the same timeline. Those deadlines are now extended only for the first 2015 filings of those forms.
Posted on December 28, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
In the year-end tax and spending bill passed by Congress, one of the items now provides for permanent parity between eligible transit passes and the parking benefits previously allowed in the Internal Revenue Code under Section 132.
Posted on December 21, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Employers concerned about the implementation of the ACA’s so-called Cadillac Tax can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief today, as Congress has extended the Tax’s start date from 2018 until 2020. Many believe that this is only the first step in the eventual repeal of the tax.
Posted on December 18, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
In a very interesting article by NY Times columnist David Brooks, recent data on overall health care cost increases in the US shows annual growth at only 1.6 percent since 2010 (not coincidentally, the year of enactment of the ACA). Is this a permanent reduction, even in part, or is it a temporary reaction to any number of factors such as the 2008 recession, low general inflation, or a lack of significant technological gains in the medical field? Only time will tell, although the Congressional Budget Office has used the data this year to reduce its projection of Medicare expenditures in 2020 by $175 billion from its 2010 estimate.
Posted on November 07, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
On October 23, 2015, the DOL issued 13 new FAQs dealing with a number of issues about preventive services; lactation counseling; weight management counseling; colonoscopies; contraceptive services and religious accommodations; and BRCA testing.
Posted on October 26, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
On August 12, 2015, a New York Times editorial called for maintaining the so-called Cadillac Tax as a part of the ACA. Their reasoning for tweaks to the law, rather than outright repeal of the tax was based on many inaccurate assumptions.
Posted on August 12, 2015 by GARY B. KUSHNER, SPHR, CBP, PRESIDENT AND CEO
As part of the ACA, starting in January, 2016 for the 2015 calendar year, applicable large employers (ALEs, that is, employers with 50 or more full-time equivalents) are required to distribute individual 1095-B or 1095-C reports to all full-time employees, and to file all the individual reports to the IRS, covered by the applicable 1094-B or 1094-C report. Fully insured employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalents (FTEs) must ensure that their carrier distributes the 1095-B to all full-time employees, and if self-funded, those same less-than-50-FTE employers must file the reports themselves. Previously, the penalty for failure to file was $100 per missed return, with an annual cap on the penalty of $1.5 million.
Posted on July 23, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
SHRM 2015 Preview, The Changing Nature of Work and The Worker: 4 Global Trends Impacting HR Strategy
Preview Gary Kushner’s SHRM 2015 presentation, “The Changing Nature of Work and the Worker: Four Global Trends Impacting HR Strategy.”
Posted on June 22, 2015 by GARY B. KUSHNER, SPHR, CBP, PRESIDENT AND CEO
Congratulations, Gary! We are so proud of our President and CEO Gary Kushner for winning this year’s Lewis Shattuck Small Business Advocate of the Year award!
Posted on June 02, 2015
In a very closely watched case within the employee benefits community, the US Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Tibble v. Edison International that plan fiduciaries have an ongoing duty to monitor and take action if an investment in the plan becomes imprudent. The decision, which remanded the case back to the Ninth Circuit for further review, stresses the importance of what the courts have called “procedural prudence” in administering a qualified plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b) program.
Posted on May 21, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Qualified plan rules are complicated and are constantly changing. Failure to effectively maintain your plan’s required compliance can be costly. Your third party administrator (TPA) can help you navigate these diverse rules so that your retirement plan maintains its tax deferred status and keeps your plan in compliance with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, and all DOL and IRS regulations.
Posted on May 20, 2015 by Marla Shires, Account Manager-Retirement Plans
We are very proud to announce that Kushner & Company President and CEO, Gary Kushner, is a finalist for the 2015 Lewis Shattuck Small Business Advocate of the Year Award!
Posted on May 14, 2015 by JOEL KUSHNER, SPHR
On May 4, 2015, the IRS issued the HSA contribution limits and HDHP design requirements for 2016.
Posted on May 08, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Only 10 percent of 480 employers surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. and Equifax Inc. indicated that they already have an in-house or outsourced solution in place to track benefits eligibility of their full-time employees and submit annual reports to the Internal Revenue Service to document their group plans’ compliance with the Affordable Care Act. The first reports are due in early 2016, but employers’ reports must contain month-by-month data for each employee.
Posted on April 28, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
The DOL has re-proposed a rule, first offered in October 2010, regarding who is an investment advice fiduciary under ERISA. That 2010 proposed rule was withdrawn in 2011 after much feedback from many corners, but in particular Congress and the investment provider community, and was re-proposed in April 2015. The re-proposed rule uses the same framework as the 2010 proposal, but differs markedly from the original.
Posted on April 22, 2015 by GARY B. KUSHNER, SPHR, CBP, PRESIDENT AND CEO
Effective in 2018, high-cost health plans will be subject to the ACA’s new “Cadillac tax.” For fully insured plans, the carrier will be responsible for paying this excise (that is, nondeductible) tax. For self-funded plans, the plan sponsor (employer) is responsible.
Posted on April 22, 2015 by GARY B. KUSHNER, SPHR, CBP, PRESIDENT AND CEO
In response to employer and employee concerns regarding wellness initiatives aimed at improving the health status of its workforce, the EEOC issued new proposed regulations on the intersection of wellness incentives and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the new EEOC guidance, in order to comply with the ADA’s rule permitting disability-related inquiries and medical examinations by a voluntary health program (the category most wellness programs would most likely fall into), the proposed regulation has four main requirements.
Posted on April 22, 2015 by GARY B. KUSHNER, SPHR, CBP, PRESIDENT AND CEO
In today’s world, an HR professional should be a partner with the organization’s C-Suite to help find solutions for the complex process of ensuring each member of the organization is doing the right job for his/her skill set and bringing the highest value to the organization. Through the use of well thought-out HR programs, policies and cultural fits, these goals can be accomplished.
Posted on April 20, 2015 by JOEL KUSHNER, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
In a significant new regulation, the DOL has provided relief for plan sponsors to provide required fee disclosures to participants in qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) and 403(b) programs.
Posted on March 26, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
With tax season in full swing, often the question arises regarding who can incur qualified medical expenses for an FSA or HRA. In 2010, the qualifications were amended with the introduction of the ACA, otherwise known as Health Care Reform. Previously, qualified medical expenses could be incurred by an employee or their spouse, all eligible dependents claimed on the employee’s federal tax return, and any person the employee could have claimed as a dependent on his or her tax return unless that person filed a joint return, had a gross income in excess of $3,950, or if the employee, or spouse if filing jointly, could be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s prior year return.
Posted on March 25, 2015 by Alicia Ball, Senior Account Manager - Health & Welfare Plans
When Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other apps first made their appearances over a decade ago, employers reacted (some say over-reacted) and quickly began issuing workplace policies to limit or even curtail all employee use of these outlets.
Now, a newer form of social media, apps where users can post completely anonymously, have led to some workplace issues that employers need to carefully consider and address.
Posted on March 09, 2015 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Follow along on starting at 10am EST for minute by minute coverage of the oral arguments in King v. Burwell at the Supreme Court with expert opinion from CEO and President Gary Kushner and Workforce.com
Posted on March 04, 2015 by GARY B. KUSHNER, SPHR, CBP, PRESIDENT AND CEO
In an at-times amusing NY Times article, Harvard’s faculty are “outraged” at the University’s health plan changes made for the 2015 plan year. Yet many of these changes are similar to those faced by virtually every US employer over the past decade.
Posted on January 06, 2015 by GARY B. KUSHNER, SPHR, CBP, PRESIDENT AND CEO
The ACA (Affordable Care Act) and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) provide several means of promoting and expanding corporate wellness programs (see Wellness Rules), as well as ample guidance on acceptable corporate wellness program practices. By-and-large most employers seem to have been good about adhering to the spirit and letter of the guidance. The EEOC, however, seems to disagree.
Posted on December 08, 2014 by BEN COHEN, CEBS, PRACTICE LEADER, HEALTH AND WELFARE BENEFITS
The ACA overturned a decades-old Revenue Ruling that allowed employers to reimburse employees pre-tax for individual health coverage. Nevertheless, in the face of multiple pronouncements from the IRS, DOL, and HHS implementing provisions of the ACA (known collectively as the Agencies for ACA purposes), some agents and vendors still convinced unknowing employers that it was fine for them to continue or start that practice, and now even make it seem a win-win for both the employer (tax deductions, lower payroll taxes) and employee (premium tax subsidies at the Exchange, pre-tax income). Only one small catch: the ACA’s infamous general penalty section, IRC 4980D, which imposes a penalty of $36,500 per employee per year.
Posted on November 07, 2014 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
With the recent release of Rev. Proc. 2014-61, all 2015 benefit limits have now been updated. This includes for the first time an update to the Health Flexible Spending Account limit. That limit has been increased to $2,550 from $2,500. We’ve compiled the complete list of changes for 2015 here.
Posted on October 30, 2014 by BEN COHEN, CEBS, PRACTICE LEADER, HEALTH AND WELFARE BENEFITS
Join Gary Kushner SPHR, President and CEO of Kushner & Company, this Thursday, October 30th from 1-1:30pm EDT, as he chats with the folks at DriveThruHR on topics like the ACA and strategic HR.
Posted on October 27, 2014 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Public Act 152 requires public employers in Michigan to adopt a contribution limit to health plans of 80/20%, a hard cap on employer contributions, or elect to opt-out of the contributions (if applicable). Opting out results in a loss of certain state revenue sharing for the employer.
Posted on October 02, 2014 by BEN COHEN, CEBS, PRACTICE LEADER, HEALTH AND WELFARE BENEFITS
New official guidance (IRS Notice 2014-55) has been issued by the IRS on September 18, 2014 regarding a new qualified change in status for election changes for group health coverage under a Section 125 plan.
Posted on September 22, 2014 by BEN COHEN, CEBS, PRACTICE LEADER, HEALTH AND WELFARE BENEFITS
As with many for-profit companies, nonprofits are beginning to emerge from the great recession and are now focusing on “capacity building” initiatives – many of which reside in the Human Resources realm.
Posted on September 02, 2014 by BEN COHEN, CEBS, PRACTICE LEADER, HEALTH AND WELFARE BENEFITS
In HR, we’d like to think we’ve evolved since the days of “personnel” and that we’re more than just pencil-pushers and company compliance commandants. However, unless we truly can integrate our HR strategies with the organizational strategies, we’ll be doomed to floating on Redemption Island.
Posted on August 25, 2014 by JOEL KUSHNER, SPHR
A recent article in Inc. magazine highlights the idea of a Chief Happiness Officer. I can say with certainty that I’m not waiting in line to get on the “Chief Happiness Officer” bandwagon. The entire concept is so absurd that I experienced an unpleasant visceral reaction reading an article advocating for the position recently. Having over 25 years of professional experience as a manager, small business owner and strategic HR consultant focusing on employee engagement, I am compelled to raise the flags of reason and common sense around this bizarre notion.
Posted on August 11, 2014 by JOHN FARNER, SENIOR ORGANIZATIONAL ADVISOR
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) made a number of changes to health plans and alternative options for health coverage, but did not change or eliminate COBRA continuation rules. However, COBRA has been impacted by ACA changes in ways not previously considered.
Posted on August 08, 2014 by Jennifer Alfieri, Operations Manager
On July 22, 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled 2-1 that premium tax subsidies were not available to health care purchasers in the 36 states that chose not to adopt a state-run health care Exchange under the ACA. Rather, according to the ruling, premium tax subsidies were not available to health care purchasers in states that had federally-facilitated exchanges. To make matters more interesting, two hours later the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued the exact opposite ruling on the same issue.
Posted on July 22, 2014 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
An issue we hear often from clients is a frustration with former employees who are now managers and don’t necessarily have the skills needed to be successful – without additional training. Often times the best social worker or engineer or sales person is promoted to a management position without receiving the necessary formal or informal leadership and management training.
Posted on July 15, 2014 by Ben Cohen, CEBS, Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits
Will industry leaders find that offering benefits to low wage employees both financially viable and a competitive advantage to attract and retain the best talent necessary to be successful? Will the evidence and competition force other businesses to do the same? What’s your strategic initiative to recruit and retain the best employees in your industry?
Posted on July 15, 2014 by Ben Cohen, CEBS, Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits
In a recent issue of HuffPost’s The Blog, Josh Bersin writes that “Simplicity is the Next Big Thing.” He describes how overly complex HR systems and designs are hindering employees’ work and life balance. However, many of his examples appear to be straw men, easily dispensed.
Posted on July 02, 2014 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Your organization’s future leaders are probably already working at your place of business. Do you know how to recognize them? Succession Planning isn’t just for the CEO and owners of an organization. Kushner & Company’s CHRO will be discussing this topic in our July webinar.
Posted on June 17, 2014 by Joel Kushner, SPHR
To be serious today in affecting the ever-increasing health care costs, reducing absenteeism (and its related costs), presenteeism, and the general productivity of the workforce, a much more data-driven, scientific approach to wellness must be considered.
Posted on June 04, 2014 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Benefits remain a key component of most employer’s total rewards strategy. For those employers whose strategy is to pay employees to go to the Exchange, this latest guidance confirms that the incentive better be after tax.
Posted on May 29, 2014 by Ben Cohen, CEBS, Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits
There are only two ways to share health costs with employees – charge everyone via employee premium contributions or charge more to those that utilize the plan via high deductibles, copays, etc.
Posted on May 28, 2014 by Ben Cohen, CEBS, Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits
Bill Tincup is a brilliant writer on all things HR. This informational (and very funny) piece informs HR professionals how to speak and understand CFO-ese. A great read!
Posted on April 30, 2014 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
In an interesting take on what many call “the best healthcare system in the world,” Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show does an interesting segment on the US system versus what is in other parts of the world.
Posted on March 09, 2014 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Medium-sized and large employers are once again receiving a reprieve from one of the key elements of the ACA, the employer mandate to provide affordable, comprehensive health benefits to full time employees or pay a penalty. On Monday, February 10, 2014, the Treasury Department announced that employers with 50 to 99 FTEs will be given until the first day of their plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2016 (an additional year) to comply with the “Play or Pay” requirements of the Act.
Posted on February 11, 2014 by Ben Cohen, CEBS, Practice Leader Health and Welfare Benefits