The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently published an Information Letter that confirms the general preemption under ERISA of state civil laws that require employers to obtain written consent before withholding amounts from employees’ wages for contribution to a benefit plan subject to ERISA.
Posted on February 18, 2019 by Gary B. Kushner, President and CEO
Employers who sponsor group health plans that cover any prescription drugs generally must disclose whether the plan provides creditable or non-creditable prescription drug coverage to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) within 60 days of the start of a new plan year. If your plan year begins on January 1, you must file your disclosure with CMS by March 1.
Posted on February 18, 2019 by Gary B. Kushner, President and CEO
In a recent article published by SHRM, our President and CEO Gary Kushner was cited as the main resource on dealing with active employees and their dependents upon their reaching Medicare-eligibility. Kushner mentioned many issues related to employer-based health and prescription drug benefits in both large and small employers when employees work past age 65, or who have dependents past age 65.
Posted on February 15, 2019 by Ian Thrasher
On December 14, 2018, a US District Judge in Texas issued a ruling that the entire ACA was unconstitutional given that the individual mandate contained in it no longer had a tax penalty, the basis of the 2012 US Supreme Court ruling upholding the ACA’s constitutionality. However, employers should note that the ACA remains in full force and effect pending appeals, likely again to the US Supreme Court.
Posted on December 17, 2018 by Ian Thrasher
The IRS has issued Notice 2018-94, extending the due date for 1095-B and 1095-C forms to be sent to employees from January 31, 2019 until March 4, 2019. 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-C or 1095-C) remains the same: February 28, 2019 if filing paper copies or April 1, 2019 if filing electronically.
Posted on November 29, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Gary Kushner, a frequent contributor to national and regional media, was quoted in the Washington Post responding to a question about open enrollment timelines.
Posted on November 15, 2018 by Ian Thrasher
The IRS has announced the limits for employee benefit plans for 2019.
Posted on November 15, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
The employer mandate penalty notices for 2016 have been mailed the week of November 12, 2018. Better known as Letter 226-J, these notices inform employers of a preliminary penalty under IRC Section 4980H. In late 2017, the IRS began mailing notices for 2015 – with a reported 30,000 applicable large employers receiving Letter 226-J.
Posted on November 14, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
In a Private Letter Ruling (PLR), the IRS has recently sort of, kind of, maybe, in special circumstances enabled employers to make a matching contribution to their 401(k) plan on behalf of eligible plan participants who, instead of contributing to the 401(k), make certain qualifying student loan repayments instead.
Posted on October 18, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
When Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act in 2003 implementing prescription drug coverage under Medicare (commonly known as Part D), it required all employers that offer prescription drug benefits to provide an annual notice to all Medicare-eligible plan participants and qualified beneficiaries before October 15th of each year, the start of the Medicare open enrollment period. This could include not only retirees and their dependents, but active Medicare-eligible employees and their dependents, and COBRA participants as well. For most employers, rather than determine which actives, retirees, dependents, and COBRA participants are Medicare-eligible, it’s easier to blanket the entire population with this annual notice.
Posted on September 08, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
A new Section 199A of the 2017 Tax Act passed by Congress in December of that year enables small business owners—especially sole proprietors, subchapter S corporations, and partnerships—to get up to a 20 percent deduction of qualified business income if they have total income below certain thresholds. The Treasury Department recently issued its first set of proposed regulations regarding this new section, and some of the methods that had been offered in the market, such as what was known as “crack and pack,” were deemed abusive.
Posted on August 16, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Gary Kushner, President and CEO of Kushner & Company was interviewed by Workforce Management magazine during the 2018 SHRM Annual Conference in Chicago about the most often missed items in employers’ compliance with the ACA.
Posted on July 02, 2018 by Jennifer Alfieri, COO of Kushner & Company
Under the ACA, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) was established. The funding mechanism for PCORI was a fee on group health plans, including certain employer-contributed health care flexible spending accounts (employer FSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). An IRS Form 720 is required to be filed each year by July 31st.
Posted on June 01, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Starting in 2007, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (TRHCA) requires that the IRS release the upcoming year’s new HSA limits prior to June 1st. Here are the new limits for 2019
Posted on May 14, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
In May, 2017, the IRS released the 2018 HSA contributions limits in Rev Proc 2017-37, amongst other HSA-related indexed numbers, stating that the maximum contribution for those in family HDHP coverage would be $6,900. Congress then passed its Reconciliation Act in December, 2017, changing the indexing methodology for a number of benefit-related (and other) limits to utilize something called “chained-CPI,” as opposed to the regular CPI that had been used for decades. This in turn caused the IRS to recalculate its 2018 limits for benefit plans, and on March 2, 2018 issued Rev Proc 2018-18, retroactively reducing the 2018 family HSA maximum contribution amount by $50 to $6,850.
Posted on April 26, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017, created a new business credit for employers that offer paid family and medical leave and which are subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). In a pleasant surprise, employers with fewer than 50 employees are also eligible for this tax credit if they offer FMLA-like leave. The IRS released its first guidance on this new tax credit in a series of FAQs.
Posted on April 16, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
On March 5, 2018, the IRS published Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) 2018-10.
Effective for calendar year 2018, the family contribution limit for HSAs has been lowered to $6,850 from the previously set amount of $6,900.
Posted on March 06, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
The three week extension of the federal budget resolving the shutdown from January 19th through 22nd also contained a delay of the Cadillac Tax from 2020 to 2022.
Posted on January 23, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
When small employers make operational errors in their 401(k) or other retirement plans, and before the IRS or DOL provide a notice of an audit, the employer has the ability to self-correct under two different IRS programs: The Voluntary Compliance Program (VCP) and the Self-Correction Program (SCP) under the IRS’ Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS). It has always been in both the employer’s/plan’s and the IRS’ best interest to correct operational errors before an audit occurs, and since small employers are sometimes more likely to make inadvertent errors (such as missing a Required Minimum Distribution), small employers were previously given a break on the user fees in order to file under the VCP program.
Posted on January 09, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP, President and CEO
Under the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, employer-provided transportation benefits are somewhat pared back beginning in 2018.
Posted on January 03, 2018 by Gary B. Kushner, SPRH, CBP, President and CEO
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
Under the ACA, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) was established. The funding mechanism for PCORI was a fee on group health plans, including employer-contributed health care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). An IRS Form 720 is required to be filed each year by July 31st (August 1, 2016 this year due to July 31st being on a weekend).
Posted on June 10, 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
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
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
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
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
Small employers (those under 50 employees) are seeing a big change in how their insurance premiums are calculated for 2014, and not just in the overall increase (or rare decrease). Employers are used to seeing the same monthly premium cost for all employees in a given coverage level – employee only, dual, or family. Under new the underwriting, the premium costs are determined for each employee based on geographic location, gender, and age.
Posted on November 13, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS, Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits
Join us for a free webinar on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:00 PM EDT.
Benefits Education: The Time Is Right
Speaker: Ben Cohen, CEBS, Kushner & Company
Wednesday, October 23, 2 p.m. EDT
Is your communication approach ready for what promises to be a very confusing open enrollment season? With health care reform and greater benefit choices, employees need more guidance than ever. Even with budgets tighter than ever, benefits education are an investment your organization can’t afford to make. This program provides insight on what employees need to know about benefits, effective tools for communicating your perks and how your strategy can enhance employee morale and retention.
The webinar is free but you must register by following the link below.
Posted on October 14, 2013 by Cathy Fyock, CSP, SPHR
The main item of note is first to deal with how the organization creates value and competes, and then examine the linkage to its Total Rewards strategy and compensation as part of that.
Posted on May 23, 2013 by Gary B. Kushner, SPHR, CBP - President and CEO
Employees spend more time thinking about a shoe purchase than they do making a benefit plan choice, according to a recent survey conducted by MetLife. In fact, they spend more time making a purchase decision about almost everything else in their lives than they do their benefit elections.
Posted on May 23, 2007