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Monthly Archives

July 2018

Unemployment Weekly Claims Report for W/E July 21, 2018

The Unemployment  Insurance  Weekly  Claims  report  for  the  week  ending  July  21, 2018 has been released by the Department of Labor.

  • Seasonally adjusted initial claims: 217,000
  • 4 week moving average: 218,000
  • Seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate: 1.2%
  • Seasonally adjusted insured unemployment number: 1,745,750
  • Number of unadjusted claims: 201,257
  • Unadjusted insured unemployment rate: 1.2%
  • Unadjusted number claiming UI benefits: 1,758,987

The full news release report can be downloaded here



Join Thomas & Company at the Tennessee Statewide Payroll Conference

Thomas & Company is honored to be the Diamond Sponsor and Website Sponsor of the Tennessee Statewide Payroll Conference. This year’s conference will be held on August 8-10, 2018 at The Embassy Suites & Conference Center in Murfreesboro, TN.

Are you a current Thomas & Company client? Let us know you are coming and check in at the booth for a special gift.

I’m Attending!

You can find a list of speakers and topics for this year’s conference at the Tennessee Statewide Payroll Board website. Note that Thomas & Company will be speaking Thursday, August 9th at 8am on “Unemployment Tax Opportunities: Mergers, Acquisitions, or Other Business Changes”. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

The Tennessee Statewide Payroll Board (TSWB), Region 7 of the American Payroll Association, was established in 2011. TSWV is an independent Board made up of non-paid/volunteer Directors (9) and their Committees. The Board was established in 2011 to alleviate the burden associated with planning a successful TN Payroll Conference Event.  TN Chapters can volunteer to host a conference event and the TSWB will assist them in planning.

TSWB is a member of the American Payroll Association (APA), is the leading advocate to those in the payroll community with a mission to create the opportunity for education, skills, and resources necessary for payroll professionals to become successful leaders and strategic partners within their organizations. By attending events such as the Tennessee Statewide Payroll Conference, Thomas & Company shows our support for the many payroll departments we work with when assisting our clients with Unemployment Cost Management and/or Employment & Wage Verification.

As always, if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


Wyoming Unemployment Taxable Wage Base to Rise in 2019

The Wyoming Department of Employment announced today that the unemployment taxable wage base is set to rise to $25,400 in 2019, up from $24,700 in 2018.

The change to the taxable wage base takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.

The Department’s unemployment tax rates for 2019 are expected to be finalized in December.

As always, if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

New Jersey Unemployment Tax Rates Decrease for 2018/2019

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has confirmed that unemployment tax rates for the one-year period beginning July 1, 2018 are set to decrease.

Effective July 1, 2018, New Jersey’s experienced-employer unemployment tax rates are to be determined with Table B and are to range from 0.40% to 5.40%. The range of rates to take effect July 1 has a lower maximum and minimum than the previous schedule (Table C), where rates ranged from 0.50% to 5.80%.

The general unemployment tax rate for new employers is to remain at 2.80% during this period.

New Jersey is one of four states that generally determines unemployment tax rates on a fiscal-year basis.

As always, if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


IRS Expands Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign

The IRS stated that the use of reinforced authentication to access email accounts is especially important, noting that many email providers offer customers two-factor authentication protections to access email accounts. “Tax professionals should always use this option to prevent their accounts from being taken over by cybercriminals and putting their clients and colleagues at risk,” the agency said.

Two-factor authentication requires users to enter registered credentials, such as a user name and password, along with a security code usually sent in a text message to a mobile phone. “The idea is a thief may be able to steal the username and password but it’s highly unlikely they also would have a user’s mobile phone to receive a security code and complete the process,” the IRS said.

The IRS issued a new four-page guide, Publication 5293, “Data Security Resource Guide for Tax Professionals,” which highlights a compilation of resources for tax preparers, and revised Publication 4557, “Safeguarding Taxpayer Data,” to better reflect ongoing threats to tax professionals. The publications promote basic security steps endorsed by the Security Summit.

Recommendations from the summit included learning to recognize phishing emails, especially those that appeared to be from the IRS, tax agencies, and providers of business software and computer cloud storage. Suspicious emails and attachments should not be opened. “Remember: The IRS never initiates initial contact with a tax professional via email,” the summit said.

Phishing, which was first raised as a concern by the IRS in early 2016, is a practice that uses fake emails that are sent to those who have access to payroll data. The emails purport to be from a high-level company official seeking information about Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. Cybercriminals, in attempting to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds, try to trick workers into disclosing employee names, Social Security numbers, and income information.

The IRS reported that in the first four months of 2017, about 870 organizations reported that they received a W-2 phishing email, up from about 100 organizations in the comparable period in 2016. About 200 of the 870 organizations lost data, up from about 50 in 2016.

In 2016, the IRS started a verification-code pilot program for Forms W-2 in an effort to thwart identity theft and tax fraud. The program uses a 16-character code to authenticate employee data and match individual tax returns with the proper refund amount. Participating payroll service providers include the code in Box 9 of copies B and C of employees’ Form W-2 that are filed electronically. The verification program is expected to be renewed for the 2019 filing season.

The Security Summit, which was formed in 2015, combines the IRS with representatives of the software industry, tax-preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators to combat identity theft refund fraud.

As always, if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


Nevada Unemployment Taxable Wage Base to Rise 2019

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation announced today that the unemployment taxable wage base is set to rise to $31,200 in 2019, up from $30,500 in 2018.

The change to the taxable wage base takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.

The Department’s unemployment tax rates for 2019 are expected to be finalized in December.

As always, if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Benefit Charge Audits: The Unsung Heroes of the Unemployment Process

When unemployment insurance benefit charges are issued by state agencies, it is easy to assume they are issued correctly. However, many states have departments that do not “talk” (i.e. benefits to tax) resulting in benefit charges issued in error.

Charges are issued weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly and can be tedious in reviewing. At Thomas & Company, we compare each charge entered into our system against the issued determination. This has caused a significant amount in credits to be issued to employer accounts.

According to the United States Department of Labor, for every $1 in benefit charges removed from an employer’s account, that employer will save $1.39 in future unemployment insurance taxes. Over the last 5 years, Thomas & Company’s clients have had $99,350,584.51 removed in charges; $15,945,376.22 in the last year. That equates to over $1.3 billion in tax savings.

At Thomas & Company, our goal is to provide an effective service that positively affects our client’s tax rates and in turn, provides a return on investment. And the good news is, if you are a client utilizing our Unemployment Cost Control Service, the Benefit Charge Auditing service is included at no additional cost.

As always, if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

U.S. Department of Labor Provides Guidance on Worker Classification

On July 13, 2018, the United States Department of Labor rolled out a new interpretation on the controversial, ambiguous question of whether certain workers are employees or independent contractors.

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division issued enforcement instructions to investigators on how to draw the line between employee and independent contractor in the home-care registry industry. The registries compete with traditional home-care providers by referring the elderly and people with disabilities or injuries to nurses and aides. The workers are treated as independent contractors who don’t get minimum wage or overtime protections.

The field bulletin is located here and is tailored to a specific occupation within a narrow sector of the workers. But it offers a glimpse into how the Trump administration may task federal investigators to handle an issue that’s perplexing businesses throughout the economy—including app-based companies like Uber—that want to maintain an independent contractor model without running afoul of the law.

The guidelines come in response to calls for clarity for home care industry from heavyweight management firm Littler Mendelson and from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Both Littler and Rubio, an ally of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, have accused Wage & Hour Division investigators in Florida of applying an overly broad interpretation of the employment relationship, alleging registries have misclassified workers and owe them back pay. They argue that this view of independent contractor misclassification was abandoned by the agency when Acosta withdrew a memo issued in the previous administration that said the overwhelming majority of workers should be treated as employees.

The new field bulletin details the industry-specific factors that investigators must consider when reviewing whether a caregiver has been improperly labeled an independent contractors and is therefore owed back pay for overtime and minimum wage violations. The US DOL has said that a registry can provide general training to the worker without being tagged as an employer. But if the registry dictates how to care for the client, that’s a sign of a traditional employment relationship.

“The Wage & Hour Division will consider the totality of the circumstances to evaluate whether an employment relationship exists between a registry and a caregiver,” the agency writes in the bulletin. “Because the analysis does not depend on any single factor, and because caregiver registries operate in a variety of ways, the Division will evaluate all factors…”

To be clear, this bulletin isn’t meant to apply to other industries. It is tailored to nurse registry operators in the home care industry only.

As always, if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

South Dakota Unemployment Tax Rates Hold Steady for 2019

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, South Dakota’s unemployment tax rates are to be unchanged from 2018. This information was released by a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Labor and Regulation during a phone call on July 13, 2018.

The state is to continue to determine unemployment tax rates for experienced employers with Schedule B in 2019. Additionally, the taxable wage base is to be $15,000, unchanged from 2018.

Tax rates determined with Schedule B range from zero percent to 0.85 percent for positive-rated experienced employers and from 1.35 percent to 9.35 percent for negative-rated experienced employers. Additionally, experienced employers are assessed an investment fee ranging from zero to 0.53 percent.

South Dakota’s new-employer tax rates are 3 percent or 6 percent for construction employers, and 1 percent or 1.2 percent for non-construction employers, according to state law. New employers are assessed an investment fee of 0.55 percent.

As always, if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.