Fraudulent unemployment claims on the rise in Michigan

There have been reports of unemployment fraud over the past few years, but it has become even become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent financial crisis.

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency is reporting a recent increase in these activities, with some criminals posing as self-employed workers or independent contractors to illegally obtain unemployment benefits.

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Retirement confidence remains high despite COVID-19

5/7/20 8:00 AM

sign "What's your plan for retirement?" More Americans are optimistic about their chances of being financially secure in old age, according to the latest annual retirement confidence report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Specifically, 69 percent of surveyed U.S. workers said that they are at least “somewhat confident” they will have enough money to retire comfortably, including 27 percent who said they are “very confident,” the highest reading on record. The poll that these figures come from was admittedly conducted in January, well ahead of the coronavirus crisis. The EBRI researchers, though, refielded a separate survey of key questions in the second half of March and found that COVID-19 had not yet resulted in a statistically significant decline in retirement confidence. Optimism may be even better now considering that stocks have rallied sharply off the March lows and the spread of the virus has slowed considerably.

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2020 can mean a profitable approach for your business

It’s hard to believe there is less than six weeks left of this decade. Not just this year, but this DECADE! I have written multiple end-of-year blogs (It’s that time of year again) because goal-setting is my favorite topic for discussion. It’s a great time to reflect on where we are and where we want to go.

So, what will be different for your business in the coming year? Why will it be different? And how will it be different?

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Workers value employer-provided financial guidance

Last month we learned that although general retirement confidence by several measures has improved a lot in recent years, many Americans are still worried about old-age financial security.

A lack of savings is one of the biggest factors underlying such concerns, and for a large number of people debt is the main obstacle preventing them from regularly setting more money aside.

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More programs offered to help employees with life situations

We are seeing a trend in businesses offering employee assistance programs to their employees and BCN Services has such a program available to help employees cope.

These employer-sponsored programs help employees resolve personal problems that may affect work performance and they include free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services.

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In the new year, update addresses and be sure benefit elections are accurate

Happy New Year! After family gatherings, company parties, school breaks and other celebrations, it’s time for most of us to get back into our regular routines. The start of the year is also a great time for employees to do an audit of their W2 address information and new benefit plans, as well as finalize any benefits spending from the previous year.

Here are a few suggestions that can benefit all employees at any employer.

W2 forms for 2018

The federal government requires all employers to mail or electronically provide W2s to current and former employees who worked for them in 2018 by January 31, 2019. For employees not signed up for an electronic W2, be sure to update your home addresses, if needed, with current and former employers.

BCN Services employees who use the online portal option can change their addresses online at any time. All others can email address changes to hr@bcnservices.com, including their full name and the last 4 digits of their Social Security number. Every year, hundreds of W2s are returned to BCN Services due to outdated addresses. While it’s best to update the addresses before the W2s are sent, if an employee updates an address at a later time, we sent them right back out using the updated address.

Even with correct addresses, sometimes W2s don’t arrive at an employee’s home or they are misplaced. It’s important that employees wait long enough to give the U.S. Postal Service time to deliver them, but also not to wait until the tax deadline if they need an additional copy of the W2. BCN Services employees who don’t receive a W2 for any reason can contact BCN Services (email hr@bcnservices.com) to receive a free re-print of their W2 between February 11 and March 7. If requesting a copy, include the full name of the employee and the last 4 digits of the Social Security number.

2018 Benefits – FSA

Employees who have Flexible Spending Account plans with money left from 2018 have until March 15, 2019 to incur reimbursable expenses and until March 30, 2019 to submit receipts for payment from their FSA account. In 2018, this process moved from paper to a more convenient online process for BCN Services’ employees. We encourage all BCN Services employees with FSA accounts to view their account balances and submit reimbursement requests through the website or Wage Works app (www.wageworks.com) prior to the March 15 and March 30 deadlines.

2019 Benefits Contributions

Many employees have updated their benefits elections as of January 1, 2019. It’s a good idea for all employees to review their pay stubs to ensure that deductions coming out of your pay match the elections you’ve made. For the final checks of 2018, employees should generally expect to see deductions that match the 2019 medical, dental and vision plan elections. Employees’ first paychecks of 2019 should reflect those plan elections, as well as 2019 FSA and Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions, Aflac supplemental insurance, life insurance and disability, and prepaid legal plans.

Not a BCN employer?

Taking these actions are excellent practices for all employees. This article highlights a few of the many services BCN Services offers to our clients. To learn more about the full package of services offered and for more information about how these can work for your business, call us at 734-994-4100.

Trisha Crigger, Human Resources Generalist

Consider year-end payroll as you make holiday plans

The holiday season will soon be here and while most people are thinking of planning holiday parties and gift-giving, it is also important to think about your end-of-year payroll now.

Both the year end and holiday payroll processing can be stressful between planning for business closures and compiling end-of-year financials. Starting to think about the topic now and communicate with your BCN Payroll Specialist early to alleviate stress and make this busy time of year go smoothly.

Some things to consider:

Business closure dates: What dates will your business be closed over the holidays? Will you need to receive any payroll deliveries early? How will this impact your employees’ pay?

Pay date changes: Do you have any pay dates that should be changed due to the holidays? Have you reviewed your payroll processing schedule to determine the dates the banks will be closed when you will not be able to issue funds?

Bonus payments: Do you plan to pay any employees a bonus? When do you want that bonus payment to be made? Do those checks need to be printed on paper for you or will they be paid through employee direct deposit?

Fringe benefits: Are there any fringe benefit amounts that need to be reported? By what date do those need to be processed?

Once you have begun planning, it is crucial to involve your BCN Payroll Specialist in this conversation as early as possible. Even before you have amounts and final details, your Payroll Specialist can help answer questions and give advice on your plan. This will also allow them to start planning the processes they must have in place to ensure all your requests can be met in a timely manner.

BCN Services sends communications about all closures and holiday scheduling to help make your season run as smoothly as possible. Please call us at 800-891-9911 so we can assist with your holiday and year-end planning.

Dani Austin, Payroll Supervisor

What to expect from your BCN Services Accounting Department

One of the most important aspects of running a business is making sure that your taxes are filed correctly and that they are paid on time. BCN’s dedicated accounting team works hard to ensure that you no longer need to worry about this aspect and can focus on other areas of your business.

Below is a list of the tax-related matters that BCN will handle on your behalf, whether you are a PEO or HRO client:

  • IRS Form 941 employer quarterly tax filings and semi-weekly deposits.
  • Federal Unemployment administration, including annual Form940 annual unemployment tax filing and quarterly deposits.
  • Forms W-2 and W-3 preparation and distribution.
  • Withholding tax filings and deposits. We handle state, city, county and school district withholding tax filings and payments.
  • State(s) Unemployment Insurance SUI quarterly tax filings and payments.
  • State(s) Unemployment Insurance account, rate update verifications and rate negotiations as needed. We are also available to assist with any client-level unemployment registrations you may need.
  • Any employment-related IRS compliance/correspondence.

If you have any questions regarding how the BCN accounting team can help alleviate the stress of employment taxes, or have other questions about these topics, please give us a call at 1-800-891-9911.

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Amy Miller, Staff Accountant

Still Room For Improvement In Americans’ Saving Habits

Saving For RetirementMany financial advisers recommend carrying 3-6 months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund, but only 39 percent of Americans would be able to cover an unexpected $1,000 outlay with their short-term savings, according to a recent Bankrate survey. Another new poll conducted by Bankrate similarly found that only around half (58 percent) of consumers currently have more emergency savings than what they owe in credit card debt. At the same time, 12 percent of respondents reported having no credit card debt but no savings either.

That agrees with an earlier study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which asked U.S. adults to list their biggest barriers to retirement saving and found that one of most frequent responses was “I prioritize(d) paying down debt.” As for generational differences, Millennials in the Bankrate survey as expected are more likely to have greater credit card debt than savings, but these young adults also appear determined to improve their financial standing. In fact, 61 percent of Gen-Y respondents said that boosting their emergency fund is a top financial priority, including 63 percent of younger Millennials (18-27).

Such statistics are encouraging because the earlier a person can learn the importance of setting money aside for the future the better. Further, having an adequate emergency fund helps decrease the likelihood of being forced to dip into one’s retirement savings early. That is especially important since many Americans are at risk of retiring broke, according to a new report from GoBankingRates. Specifically, 42 percent of surveyed U.S. adults said that they currently have less than $10,000 set aside for retirement, including 14 percent of respondents with absolutely no long-term savings.

On the bright side, those figures are marked improvements from prior surveys, and the percentage of Americans with large savings account balances has grown. Moreover, 57 percent of surveyed Millennials said that they have less than $10,000 in retirement savings, down from 71 percent in 2017, and the percentage of Gen-Y respondents with $300,000 or more set aside has increased from 5 percent to 9 percent. For those whose savings are still lacking, the report’s authors suggest reviewing your spending to see what nonessential expenses can be cut and increasing 401(k) contributions with each pay raise.

 

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Copyright @ 2018 Slavic Investments (http://blog.slavic401k.com/still-room-for-improvement-in-americans-saving-habits)Republished with permission.

HR areas likely impacted with results of recent General Election

It has been just over a month since the historic November General Election.  The results, a Republican president-elect and Republican-controlled U.S. Congress, signal that a lot of changes will be coming to Human Resources laws and regulations, affecting both employers and employees.

Here are a few of the areas that may see significant changes soon:

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) – President-Elect Donald Trump has promised to repeal and replace the ACA within his first 100 days in office. While experts do not believe the Act will be totally repealed, it is likely that Republican legislators will negotiate with fellow Democrats and recommend a change to the law and get the required 60 Senate votes to pass it.  Some of the current law provisions targeted for change include:
    • The Employer Mandate (organizations with 50 or more full-time employees or equivalents must provide ACA-compliant health care coverage to employees averaging at least 30 hours per week) and
    • The Cadillac Tax (40-percent excise tax on employer-sponsored health-care coverage that exceeds pre-defined benefit thresholds). Trump also supports increasing the flexibility of Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Reimbursement Arrangements.
  • Immigration Reform – The centerpiece of the Trump campaign was immigration reform and control. Experts believe that employers may see many changes as a result of this initiative, including:
    • increased audits of Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9,
    • required use of an E-Verify system (comparing employee information on an I-9 to federal records) and
    • changes to the H-1B Visa program for non-immigrants, in which non-U.S. workers are employed in specialty occupations.
  • Maternity Leave – During his campaign, Trump outlined a plan that would guarantee six weeks of paid maternity leave to new mothers after childbirth paid for through savings in the unemployment insurance program. This proposed policy would not offer benefits to fathers or parents of adopted children.

BCN Services will keep you up-to-date as changes unfold.  If you have additional questions, contact your Human Resources Representative at 1-800-891-9911.

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Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager