Business Insights, Research & Perspectives

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May 11, 2011

The Outlook for Major Tax Reform: What You Need to Know

A bruising budget battle, near-government shutdown, lightening-rod speech by President Obama, and threatened downgrade in the AAA rating of US debt all added to the momentum for major tax reform in the first few weeks of April 2011. At this point, the calls for tax reform are intertwined with efforts to reduce the federal deficit, and some of the proposals in process are more sweeping than we have seen in decades.

April 18, 2011

HRB 34 - Repeal of Free-Choice Vouchers and Form 1099 Reporting

April 18, 2011 --  Two laws have recently been passed that impact the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  Both laws relate to the repeal of certain aspects of health care reform law.  One law relates to the repeal of the free-choice voucher provision; and, the second law repeals the Form 1099 reporting requirement.

April 5, 2011

Financial Incentives for Wellness Program Participation: Employers Beware

The increased use of wellness programs raises issues relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (see Health Risk Assessments: Where Do They Stand? from the June 2009 edition of the Benefit Beat).    The potential risk can arise in a couple ways, such as inquiring about non-job related disability, or making coverage under a health plan contingent upon completing a health risk assessment.  The EEOC has not provided formal guidance on this matter; however, have issued two informal opinions. 

April 5, 2011

ADAA Regulations Issued – Discrimination is the Focus

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAA) was enacted September 25, 2008.  This law amended the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which became law on July 26, 1990 (see ADA Amended from the October, 2008 Benefit Beat).  On March 25, 2011, final regulations implementing the ADAA were issued.  These regulations become effective on May 24, 2011. 

April 4, 2011

HRB 33 - Grandfathered Status and ERRP Updates

April 4, 2011 --  Agencies Issued New FAQs:  Grandfathered Status

The Agencies (DOL, HHS and IRS) have recently issued some additional sub-regulatory guidance relating to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the form of Frequently Asked Questions.  These 6 new FAQs relate primarily to determining grandfathered status as follows:

March 30, 2011

HRB 32 - IRS Issues Interim Guidance on W-2 Reporting

March 30, 2011 --  One of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires employers to report the aggregate cost of health coverage on the employee’s Form W-2.  This reporting requirement is informational-only, and does not create a taxable event.  This provision was to be applicable for the 2011 reporting year; generally, for the W-2 required in January, 2012.  In IRS Notice 2010-69 issued in October, 2010, the requirement was made voluntary for 2011 (see IRS delays W-2 reporting of employer health coverage from the CBIZ Health Reform Bulletin,

March 22, 2011

HRB 31 - Delay in Claims and Appeals Enforcement

March 22, 2011 --  One of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the expansion of the internal claims and appeal, and external review rules.  The PPACA not only augments the internal claims and appeals rules applicable to ERISA plans by adding an external review requirement, among other things, but it also extends these rules to plans exempt from ERISA, such as state and local government plans, and church plans.  These rules apply to non-grandfathered plans (those not in existence on 3/23/10), as well as to plans that lose grandfathered status.  

March 2, 2011

IRS Issues Guidance on 403(b) Plan Termination Provisions

In Revenue Ruling 2011-7, the IRS begins to clarify how a 403(b) plan can be terminated and how a distribution can occur on a tax-favored basis.  A 403(b) plan can be sponsored by not-for-profit entities and public schools.

March 2, 2011

IRS Clarifies Lactation Expenses Qualify as Medical Care Expenses

The IRS recently issued an Announcement relating to the excludability of breast pumps and nursing equipment.  IRS Announcement 2011-14 affirms that the cost of breast pumps and lactation aids are deemed to be medical care under IRC §213(d) in that, “like obstetric care, they are used for the purpose of affecting a structure or function of the body”.  Therefore, expenses relating to breast pumps and lactation supplies are excludable from an employee’s income, and can be purchased with tax-favored dollars through a flexible medical spending account, a health reimbursement arrangement or a health savings account.  This ruling is consistent with the trend toward wellness, and general health and well-being.

March 2, 2011

IRS Reviews 401(k) Questionnaires and Outlines Next Steps for Compliance

Last summer, the IRS began a process of sending out random questionnaires to 401(k) plan sponsors for purposes of determining potential compliance issues or plan operational issues (see IRS’ Compliance Questionnaire: 401(k) Plans, from the June, 2010 edition of Benefit Beat).  In the Winter, 2010 edition of an IRS newsletter, Monika Templeman, the Director of the IRS’ Employee Plan Examination division, indicated the next steps in this process.  Of particular note, the IRS intends to conduct full-scope examinations of those plans whose sponsor failed to respond to the 401(k) Questionnaire.  The IRS encourages plan sponsors to review the Questionnaire’s instructions (available on-line here) as an internal control tool; and, then utilize available IRS correction programs to fix errors.  It is important for a plan administrator that receives the audit request to attend to it carefully.

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