Penalties Increase for 2018

DOL Civil Penalties Increase for 2018

On Jan. 2, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule that sets forth its annual inflation adjustments to civil monetary penalties. The DOL is required to adjust these penalties for inflation no later than Jan. 15 each year.

In order to compute the 2018 annual adjustment, the DOL multiplied the most recent penalty amount for each applicable penalty by the multiplier, 1.02041, and rounded to the nearest dollar.

The increased penalty levels apply to any penalties assessed after the effective date of this rule. Accordingly, for penalties assessed after Jan. 2, 2018, whose associated violations occurred after Nov. 2, 2015, the higher penalty amounts outlined in this rule will apply.

Calculated penalty amounts for specific violations can be viewed here .

GIC ELIMINATES TUFTS, HARVARD PILGRIM, FALLON

GIC ELIMINATES TUFTS, HARVARD PILGRIM, FALLON

Senior products will be available from UniCare and Tufts Health Plan.

GROUP INSURANCE COMMISSION

The Group Insurance Commission (GIC) held a meeting Thursday morning to discuss plan offering for FY19. There was a vote to eliminate Harvard Pilgrim Health Care,  Tufts Health Plan, and Fallon Health from their active employee plan offerings effective 7/1/2018. The only carriers available to active members will be UniCare, Neighborhood Health Plan, and Health New England. Geographically, there will be some municipalities that will only have UniCare available.

Senior products will be available from UniCare and Tufts Health Plan. All Pharmacy benefits will be uniformly offered through Express Scripts for all non-Medicare plans.

The vote passed by:
YES – 8
NO – 5
ABSTAIN – 2

Please see the email (below) from Robert Herman, Executive Director of the GIC regarding this meeting.

Dear GIC Member,

Today, the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) voted to approve recommendations stemming from a year-long procurement process, which has been widely socialized and shared with our Commission throughout. This will result in changes to our current health plan vendors, effective July 1, 2018.

Why?

The GIC is making these changes to provide the greatest benefits to the GIC and its members. Through this decision, we will move from a patchwork of carriers offering similar benefits and services to a model that provides meaningful choice, sustainability and simplification for each of you. More specifically, we will transition from 6 carriers to 3 for active employees and non-Medicare retirees (Commercial enrollees), from 5 carriers to 2 for Medicare enrollees and from 6 carriers to 1 for our Pool 2 enrollees.

Please note: members will not experience a loss in health care coverage and the GIC’s goal is for members to keep their current physicians and hospitals with comparable coverage and benefits after plan migration.

What’s Changing and When?

Effective July 1, 2018, the GIC will offer health plans from the following vendors:

  • Commercial: Unicare, Neighborhood Health Plan and Health New England
  • Medicare: Unicare, Tufts
  • Pool 2 Offering: Unicare
  • Carriers being eliminated: Harvard Pilgrim, Fallon, Tufts (Commercial only)

We are also planning to uniformly carve-out pharmacy benefits to ExpressScripts for Commercial and Pool 2 members, and will retain CVS/SilverScript for Medicare enrollees.

As a result of this change, nearly half of members will be able to retain their current health plan carrier. GIC members from impacted health plans will automatically migrate into new health plans, and will have the opportunity to select a new plan during annual enrollment, if desired.

Additional Opportunities to be Heard

Your voice is important and the GIC wants to ensure that you have the opportunity to share your input about future plan and benefit designs.

Starting tomorrow, Friday, January 19th in Worcester, the GIC will embark on a series of public hearings across the state. More details on the times and locations of these public hearings can be found below. As a reminder, this series is in addition to the Listening Tours and member survey that were conducted in the fall to solicit public input before any decisions were made.

Final benefit decisions will be voted on by the Commission on February 1st and rates for final plans will be decided on February 22nd

You can stay informed on this issue by visiting our website at www.mass.gov/gic or by calling the GIC’s Main Line at 617-727-2310.

Respectfully,

Roberta Herman
Executive Director
Group Insurance Commission

ACA DEADLINE DELAYED

Furnishing Deadline Delayed for 2017 ACA Reporting

OVERVIEW

On Dec. 22, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2018-06 to:

• Extend the due date for furnishing forms under Sections 6055 and 6056 for 2017 for 30 days, from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018
• Extend good-faith transition relief from penalties related to 2017 information reporting under Sections 6055 and 6056.
Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing forms with the IRS for 2017. The due date for filing with the IRS under Sections 6055 and 6056 remains Feb. 28, 2018 (April 2, 2018, if filing electronically).

ACTION STEPS

The IRS is encouraging reporting entities to furnish statements as soon as they are able. No request or other documentation is required to take advantage of the extended deadline.

Section 6055 and 6056 Reporting
Sections 6055 and 6056 were added to the Internal Revenue Code (Code) by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

• Section 6055 applies to providers of minimum essential coverage (MEC), such as health insurance issuers and employers with self-insured health plans. These entities will generally use Forms 1094-B and 1095-B to report information about the coverage they provided during the previous year.

Section 6056 applies to applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally, those employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents, in the previous year. ALEs will use Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report information relating to the health coverage that they offer (or do not offer) to their full-time employees

Extended Furnishing Deadline

The IRS has again determined that some employers, insurers and other providers of MEC need additional time to gather and analyze the information and prepare the 2017 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to be furnished to individuals. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 provides an additional 30 days for furnishing the 2017 Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C, extending the due date from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018.

Despite the delay, employers and other coverage providers are encouraged to furnish 2017 statements to individuals as soon as they are able.

Filers are not required to submit any request or other documentation to the IRS to take advantage of the extended furnishing due date provided by Notice 2018-06. Because this extended furnishing deadline applies automatically to all reporting entities, the IRS will not grant additional extensions of time of up to 30 days to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. As a result, the IRS will not formally respond to any requests that have already been submitted for 30-day extensions of time to furnish statements for 2017.

Impact on Filing Deadline

The IRS has determined that there is no need for additional time for employers, insurers and other providers of MEC to file 2017 forms with the IRS. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C or 1095-C with the IRS for 2017. This due date remains:

  • February 28, 2018, if filing on paper; or
  • April 2, 2018, if filing electronically (since March 31, 2018, is a Saturday).

Because the due dates are unchanged, potential automatic extensions of time for filing information returns are still available under the normal rules by submitting a Form 8809. The notice also does not affect the rules regarding additional extensions of time to file under certain hardship conditions.

Filers are not required to submit a request or other documentation to the IRS to take advantage of the extended furnishing due date provided by Notice 2018-06.

Employers or other coverage providers that do not meet the due dates for filing and furnishing (as extended under the rules described above) under Sections 6055 and 6056 are subject to penalties under Section 6722 or Section 6721 for failure to furnish and file on time. However, employers and other coverage providers that do not meet the relevant due dates should still furnish and file. The IRS will take this into consideration when determining whether to abate penalties for reasonable cause.

Impact on Individuals

Because of the extended furnishing deadline, some individual taxpayers may not receive a Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C by the time they are ready to file their 2017 tax returns. Taxpayers may rely on other information received from their employer or other coverage provider for purposes of filing their returns, including determining eligibility for an Exchange subsidy and confirming that they had MEC for purposes of the individual mandate.

Taxpayers do not need to wait to receive Forms 1095-B and 1095-C before filing their 2017 returns. In addition, individuals do not need to send the information they relied upon to the IRS when filing their returns, but should keep it with their tax records.

Extension of Good-faith Transition Relief from Penalties for 2017

Notice 2018-06 also extends transition relief from penalties for providing incorrect or incomplete information to reporting entities that can show that they have made good-faith efforts to comply with the Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting requirements for 2017 (both for furnishing to individuals and for filing with the IRS).

This relief applies to missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and dates of birth, as well as other information required on the return or statement. No relief is provided for reporting entities that:

  • Do not make a good-faith effort to comply with the regulations; or
  • Fail to file an information return or furnish a statement by the due dates (as extended).

In determining good faith, the IRS will take into account whether a reporting entity made reasonable efforts to prepare for reporting the required information to the IRS and furnishing it to individuals (such as gathering and transmitting the necessary data to an agent to prepare the data for submission to the IRS or testing its ability to transmit information to the IRS). The IRS will also take into account the extent to which the reporting entity is taking steps to ensure that it will be able to comply with the reporting requirements for 2018.

Contact GBS

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What is an HSA?

What is an HSA?

This 90-second video breaks down how a health savings account (HSA) works and why employees should consider one.

If you have questions about HSA’s or anything relating to employee benefit programs, please contact us using the form below.

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Employee Benefit Plan Limits for 2018

Employee Benefit Plan Limits for 2018

By GBS Team

Group Benefit Strategies Audit and Claim

Many employee benefits are subject to annual dollar limits that are periodically updated for inflation by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The following commonly offered employee benefits are subject to inflation-adjusted dollar limits:

  • High deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs);
  • Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs);
  • 401(k) plans; and
  • Transportation fringe benefit plans.

The IRS typically announces the dollar limits that will apply for the next calendar year well in advance of the beginning of that year. This gives employers time to update their plan designs and make sure that their plan administration will be consistent with the new limits.

This Compliance Overview includes a chart of the inflation-adjusted limits for 2018. Although some of the limits will remain the same, many of the limits will increase for 2018.

INCREASED LIMITS

  • HSA contribution limits for individuals with self-only or family coverage under an HDHP
  • Employees’ elective deferrals to 401(k) plans, pre-tax and Roth
  • Health FSA limit for employee pre-tax contributions
  • Monthly limits for transportation fringe benefit plans
  • HDHP minimum deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket limits

UNCHANGED LIMITS

  • Tax exclusion for dependent care FSA benefits
  • Catch-up contributions to an HSA
  • Catch-up contributions to a 401(k) plan
Limit 2017 2018 Change
HSA Contribution Limit
Self-only $3,400 $3,450 Up $50
Family $6,750 $6,900 Up $150
Catch-up contributions* $1,000 $1,000 No change
HDHP Minimum Deductible
Self-only $1,300 $1,350 Up $50
Family $2,600 $2,700 Up $100
HDHP Out-of-pocket Maximum
Self-only $6,550 $6,650 Up $100
Family $13,100 $13,300 Up $200
Out-of-pocket Maximum on Essential Health Benefits (non-grandfathered plans)
Self-only $7,150 $7,350 Up $200
Family $14,300 $14,700 Up $400
Health FSA
Limit on employees’ pre-tax contributions $2,600 $2,650 Up $50
Dependent Care FSA*
Tax exclusion $5,000 ($2,500 if married and filing taxes separately) $5,000 ($2,500 if married and filing taxes separately) No change
Transportation Fringe Benefits (monthly limits)
Transit pass and vanpooling (combined) $255 $260 Up $5
Parking $255 $260 Up $5
401(k) Contributions
Employee elective deferrals $18,000 $18,500 Up $500
Catch-up contributions $6,000 $6,000 No change

American Collegiate Entrepreneurship Society

Spyridon “Ross” Tsakas, Ph.D. and the American Collegiate Entrepreneurship Society

By GBS Team

gbs-mr-tsakas

Mr. Tsakas

Director of the Worcester State University Center for Entrepreneurship,
Spyridon ‘Ross’ Tsakas, Ph.D. has launched a brand new project focused on
student entrepreneurs.

The American Collegiate Entrepreneurship Societies mission is to become a singular platform for anything a current/prospective student entrepreneur may need to succeed. “My intention is to create a network for student entrepreneurs to connect with each other, experts, entrepreneurial support organizations, and the general entrepreneurial ecosystem both locally and nationally”, said Mr. Tsakas, “Membership is entirely free and I developed this platform simply because I have a passion for enabling student entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams.”

ACES will also spotlight student entrepreneurs to help them gain exposure as well as rank top entrepreneurial training programs, entrepreneurial support organizations, colleges/universities, and the best cities for student entrepreneurs. In addition to this, current and prospective student entrepreneurs also gain access to exclusive webinars on topics spanning the gamut of new venture development and MOOCs to teach them vital skills for success.

Mr. Tsakas adds, “Membership is entirely free and I developed this platform simply because I have a passion for enabling student entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams. This is a topic that resonates deeply with me as I started my first venture straight after college and struggled to find the right people and resources along the way.”

To learn more about the American Collegiate Entrepreneurship Society , visit their web site at http://www.acesoc.org.