The Payroll Report: March 5 to March 9


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Here is a roundup of payroll issues recently covered:

Federal:

This week, on March 5, the IRS released another piece of the tax-reform guidance puzzle: Publication 15-B, Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits, for use in 2018.

The publication, which is dated Feb. 22, was updated to reflect revisions to the federal tax code under legislation (Pub. L. 115-97) signed Dec. 22 that took effect Jan. 1.

Among the changes from the 2017 publication:

Moving expenses : Publication 15-B no longer offers guidance on qualified moving expense reimbursements from employee income that occurred before Jan. 1, 2018. Amounts given to employees as payment or reimbursement for expenses related to starting work at a new location were suspended until Jan. 1, 2026 under the tax code overhaul.

Qualified transportation fringe benefits: The publication confirmed the maximum monthly amount that an employer may provide on a tax-free basis for transit passes and qualified van pools, as well as the employer-provided parking exclusion. A separate bicycle-commuting benefit for employees of up to $20 a month was eliminated under the new tax law until Jan. 1, 2026.

The publication’s guidance on the taxability of meals and working-condition fringe benefits generally remains unchanged.

Cost-of-living adjustments were reduced for 2018 limits applied to health savings accounts, adoptions, and foreign earned income, the IRS said March 5 in Revenue Procedure 2018-18.

The revisions, which were made because of amendments to the Internal Revenue Code under the new law, were retroactive to Jan. 1. The changed amounts were released in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2018-10.

Interest rates for tax underpayments and overpayments are to increase for the second quarter starting April 1, 2018, the IRS said March 7. The rise in rates is the first quarterly increase in two years.

On March 6, the Labor Department announced a nationwide pilot program to allow employers to report themselves for potentially violating overtime and minimum wage laws.

The Payroll Audit Independent Determination self-auditing system is to start soon and run for six months before it is reviewed to determine changes and whether to make it permanent, the department said in a news release and on its website. By reporting potential violations, employers likely would avoid large fines, the department said.

To participate, employers must review the program information that the department is to make available on its website and then audit payment practices for potential noncompliance, the department said.

State:

The District of Columbia Board of Elections certified a ballot measure that would eliminate the jurisdiction’s tipped minimum wage by 2025. The measure is to appear on the June 19, 2018, primary election ballot.

Iowa employers may electronically provide employees with wage statements under a measure signed March 7, 2018, by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R).

Vermont released its unemployment tax rates effective July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, and its unemployment-taxable wage base effective Jan. 1, 2019.

West Virginia employers may deduct the replacement cost of unreturned employer-provided property from an employee’s final paycheck, under a measure that is to take effect May 15, 2018. Qualifying employer-provided property is valued at more than $100 and includes equipment, phones, computers, supplies, or uniforms provided to an employee for use during employment.

By Jazlyn Williams

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