Federal Forum: Conference Q&A


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An employer must continue to withhold Social Security taxes for an employee who receives Social Security benefits, said Mark Ruley, team leader in the Social Security Administration’s Division of Programmatic Applications Support.

An employer still must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for an employee who had no income tax liability and claimed zero withholding on Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate,  because the employee was paid covered earnings,  Ruley said May 17 at a forum on  federal payroll at the American Payroll Association’s annual Congress in Orlando, Fla.

Employees who work in remote locations cannot transmit documents used in the Form I-9 employment-verification process to their employer via Skype or cell phone, said Dave Basham, management and program analyst with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Employees may have a friend or lawyer complete the form for them, but the employer is held liable for errors found in Section 2 of the form, he said.

An employer who hires members of his family must have them complete Form I-9 and provide proper documentation, even though he knows they are U.S. citizens, Basham said. Treat them as employees, he said.

The garnishment limitations contained in the Consumer Credit Protection Act apply to earnings, said Sherri Grigsby, employer services team manager in the Office of Child Support Enforcement. A Labor Department fact sheet stated that lump-sum payments were covered by the garnishment limitations, but the agency clarified that the limits applied to earnings, she said.

An employer that received a child-support order under an incorrect federal employer identification number cannot reject that order and still must process an income withholding order, Grigsby said. South Carolina, Guam and the Virgin Islands are the only jurisdictions that do not use the electronic income-withholding order process, she said.

International child support orders must be on a form approved by the Office of Management and Budget, Grigsby said in response to a question on the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support, which took effect Jan. 1, 2017. However, employers that have received international child support orders may continue to honor them to avoid disruption, she said.

Employers may receive verification of employment notices because sometimes child-support agencies need more  information about certain employees, such as health-insurance coverage, Grigsby said. However, employers should not withhold child support based on a verification of employment notice, she said.

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