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First Big Step Toward Tax Reform

The House on Thursday passed a $1.1 trillion budget, formally initiating a process that Republicans hope will result in the enactment of major tax reform later this year. The final tally was close, with 219 votes in favor, and 206 in opposition to the resolution. More than a dozen Republicans voted with Democrats against the budget, because they objected to elements of the spending package, or to parts of the tax reform proposal. The Senate Budget Committee was expected to pass a similar budget later in the day, with a vote in the full Senate slated for the week of Oct. 16. By...

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Critical connection: How costs impact pricing

As we head toward year end, your company may be reviewing its business strategy for 2017 or devising plans for 2018. As you do so, be sure to give some attention to the prices you’re asking for your existing products and services, as well as those you plan to launch in the near future. The cost of production is a logical starting point. After all, if your prices don’t exceed costs over the long run, your business will fail. This critical connection demands regular re-evaluation. Reconsider everything One simple way to assess costs is to apply a desired “markup” percentage to your expected...

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Top 5 Open Enrollment Notices

Certain Notices Must Be Distributed Around Open Enrollment A company's open enrollment period can be a hectic time for management, HR, and employees alike. However, during the enrollment process, employers should remember their disclosure obligations. Below are five key notices that must be distributed to employees around the open enrollment period: Summary Plan Description (SPD): An SPD must generally be distributed to group health plan participants within 90 days after the employee becomes a plan participant. Click here for more on the SPD requirement. Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC): An SBC must generally be provided to group health plan participants and beneficiaries...

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Final 2017 Instructions for Forms 1094 and 1095 Now Available

Used for Reporting in Early 2018 The IRS has released the final 2017 Instructions for Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C to help employers prepare for calendar year 2017 Affordable Care Act (ACA) information reporting. Employers will use the final versions of the forms and instructions in early 2018 to report on health coverage offered (or not offered) in the 2017 calendar year. Key Changes for 2017 Reporting The 2017 instructions differ from the 2016 instructions as follows: Instructions to Forms 1094-C and 1095-C: The final instructions have been revised to remove discussion of section 4980H transition relief, as none is available for 2017. Instructions...

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Court Orders EEOC to Reconsider Wellness Rules

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has directed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reconsider its final wellness rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The final rules allow employers to offer wellness incentives of up to 30 percent of the cost of health plan coverage. The court held that the EEOC failed to provide a reasonable explanation for adopting the incentive limit. Rather than vacating the final rules, the court sent them back to the EEOC for reconsideration. It is unclear how the EEOC will respond to the court’s...

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New SBC Template Required for 2018 Open Enrollment

The updated template and related materials for the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) are required for annual open enrollment periods beginning on or after April 1, 2017. For calendar year plans, this means that the updated template must be used for the 2018 open enrollment period. Employers should do the following to prepare for the new SBC template and related materials for the 2018 open enrollment period. Self-funded plan sponsors should ensure that they are using the new template. Employers with insured plans should make sure the carrier is providing the correct version of the template. Contact SIMA Benefits Consulting Group with any...

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Business as Usual: Overtime Rule Struck Down

A federal judge struck down the Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule, which would have raised the Fair Labor Standards Act minimum salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. Based on the court’s ruling, the DOL will need to present a more reasonable salary threshold if it wishes to pass any future overtime rules. This means employers should continue operating as usual, but they should be aware that an increase is possible down the road....

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Tax Filing Extension Expires 10/16

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers who have a filing extension through Oct. 16 to check their returns for often-overlooked tax benefits. When they are ready to file, the IRS recommends they file their return electronically using IRS e-file or the Free File system. Both are still available for taxpayers who still need to file their return. Check for Tax Benefits Before filing, the IRS encourages taxpayers to take a moment to see if they qualify for these and other significant credits and deductions: Benefits for low- and moderate-income workers and families, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit, can increase...

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How profitable are your customers?

“We love our customers!” Every business owner says it. But all customers aren’t created equal, and it’s in your strategic interest to know which customers are really strengthening your bottom line and by how much. Sorting out the data If your business systems track individual customer purchases, and your accounting system has good cost accounting or decision support capabilities, determining individual customer profitability will be simple. If you have cost data for individual products, but not at the customer level, you can manually “marry” product-specific purchase history with the cost data to determine individual customer value. For example, if a customer purchased 10...

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Don’t let “founder’s syndrome” impede your succession plan

Are you the founder of your company? If so, congratulations — you’ve created something truly amazing! And it’s more than understandable that you’d want to protect your legacy: the company you created. But, as time goes on, it becomes increasingly important that you give serious thought to a succession plan. When this topic comes up, many business owners show signs of suffering from an all-too-common affliction. The symptoms In the nonprofit sphere, they call it “founder’s syndrome.” The term refers to a set of “symptoms” indicating that an organization’s founder maintains a disproportionate amount of power and influence over operations. Although founder’s syndrome...

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