Wednesday, July 16, 2014

7 myths about the Affordable Care Act

Today's guest post is brought to you by Zack Pace, Senior Vice President of Benefits Consulting at CBIZ, Inc. Zack can be reached at ZPace@cbiz.com or www.linkedin.com/in/zackpace. Follow him on Twitter @zpace_benefits.

The Affordable Care Act has been a topic heavily covered in the news for over four years now, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. All the buzz has inevitably led to some confusion of facts and inaccuracies of truth when it comes to what employers should know about the ACA. Between the heavy media coverage, debating political parties, and superfluous chatter, it can be hard to know what is true.

But don’t worry; I’m here to help. I recently published a post on LinkedIn compiling the seven most common myths I've heard over the years about the ACA and the truth behind them -- I've shared this list below.

1. MYTH: Employers who are subject to Employer Shared Responsibility in 2015 can eliminate their penalty risk by providing adequate and affordable coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees.

TRUTH: The only way to eliminate the Shared Responsibility penalty risk is to offer both adequate and affordable coverage to 100 percent of full-time employees.

2. MYTH: The 9.5 percent of Box 1, W-2 income affordability safe harbor is the only available safe harbor.

TRUTH: There are three available safe harbors. Of these, the Federal Poverty safe harbor is the easiest to administer and many employers already meet the requirements.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

4 things to consider before using hiring assessment tools

Over the last few months, our firm has been confronted with a conundrum involving the use of testing and assessment in the selection process. Let me first say that our firm is a strong advocate of the use of testing and assessment tools as a data point when a client is attempting to decide between (and among) a solid list of final candidates in a C-suite recruiting process. However, I am starting to see a troubling sign when it comes to how some of our clients are using these instruments. 

At one point in our firm’s history, we employed a psychologist, who had earned a Ph.D., as a resource for our clients when they were using us as a search firm. This offering proved unbeneficial -- clients came to the inaccurate conclusion that our testing arm would never nix a candidate endorsed by our search organization. It was the old “fox in the chicken coup” scenario. 

Ultimately, we elected to get out of this business because clients, pure and simple, wanted their own third-party vendor to evaluate candidates. Today, we rely upon our clients to engage separate testing and assessment firms if they wish to use such a tool in the selection process.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Small business payroll growth momentum strongest in 5 years

Coinciding with the record highs on the major stock market indices, the CBIZ Small Business Employment Index (SBEI) has just recorded its fourth straight month of growth -- only the third time in five years that the SBEI has shown this level of sustained payroll growth.

In past results, June hiring has been mixed, but for June 2014, the CBIZ Small Business Employment Index holds strong. Following suit with March, April, and May, last month’s reading increased (by .27 percent).

While almost half of the companies taking part in the SBEI maintained employee headcounts, more companies added jobs than reduced staff. Issues, such as the ongoing debate over the minimum wage increase and tax items stemming from the Affordable Care Act, continue to be on employers’ minds. We will continue to pay close attention to how these areas impact the small business sector, and how the SBEI’s consecutive positive reading relates to the overall health of our nation’s economy.

The graphic below highlights trends and results from the SBEI. In addition, more information on the SBEI findings can be found here.


The SBEI illustration is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What you need to know about plan audits: Retirement and pension plans

This is the second installment in a series of posts explaining the different types of audits that your employee plans may be subject to this year. Be sure to check back as we continue to discuss what these audits could mean for you, your employees, and your business, and how you can be prepared if you are audited. 

In our last blog post, we addressed health and welfare plan audits. Now let’s turn our attention to retirement plans.

Both the Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have jurisdiction over retirement plans, and often these two agencies work together to ensure that plans are being administered for the exclusive benefit of plan participants.

DOL audits of retirement and pension plans

The DOL -- through its Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) -- primarily looks for whether plan fiduciaries are properly discharging their duties. The DOL is particularly concerned with ensuring that participant contributions are deposited in a timely manner into the participant accounts, as well as confirming plan expenses are correct. To be paid from plan assets, an expense must be reasonable and the plan must provide for the payment of expense. Furthermore, only plan expenses can be paid from plan assets. Certain expenses, known as settler expenses, cannot be paid from plan assets; they are expenses that belong to the plan sponsor.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Did the IRS just open the R&D tax credit floodgates?

If your business has ignored the research and development tax credit (R&D) for whatever reason, now is the time to perform an R&D credit analysis. Why now?

Quite simply, the IRS has opened the floodgates by removing a restriction that prevented a business from electing the alternative simplified credit (ASC) method on an amended return when claiming R&D tax credits.

This seemingly minor ruling is a chance for probably thousands of small- and medium-sized companies to finally start benefiting from R&D tax credits.

Why is this such a huge opportunity?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

These 4 steps can help your business sell for top dollar

Pop quiz for business owners: When should you start preparing your business for sale?

A. When you’re ready to sell
B. 6 months to a year before you’re ready to sell
C. Two to three years before you’re ready to sell

The answer is….

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hiring growth continues in May’s Small Business Employment Index

For the third consecutive month, the CBIZ Small Business Employment Index (SBEI) remained in positive territory -- it increased by 1.57 percent in May. As the summer moves along, we will be closely watching to see if this hiring trend continues, which can impact economic growth as we enter the third quarter of the year.

Looking over past SBEI reports, May is typically a good month for small business hiring. It is important to note that in the last five years of results, May 2014 brings in the second highest increase for this specific month.

The graphic below highlights trends and results from the SBEI. In addition, more information on the SBEI findings can be found here.


The SBEI illustration is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.