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Tax Reform: What’s Changing for Individuals?

Tax Reform

Here’s a list of 30 major tax issues to consider as you plan for the 2018 tax year.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act makes sweeping changes to the tax rules for individuals. But some of the new provisions won’t necessarily be relevant to your situation. Here’s a quick reference guide to the major issues under the new law to help you understand what’s changing.

In general, the changes for individual taxpayers are effective for 2018 through 2025, unless otherwise noted. Read more

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Will States Conform to the New Tax Rules?

State Tax Rules

Federal tax laws traditionally serve as the basis for many state tax laws. Here are some key provisions of the new law that must be addressed and how each change might affect your state tax bill.

Many state legislatures are now in session. A major issue that state lawmakers may currently face is whether to conform their state income tax systems to all the changes included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Some states are considering or have adopted legislation to address the following key provisions of the new tax law. Read more

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Tax Issues To Watch for When Planning for Your Business in 2018

Tax Issues

Although many businesses and owners expect to owe less federal income tax in 2018, the impact of the new law depends on your specific circumstances.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act makes sweeping changes. But some of the new provisions won’t necessarily be relevant to your situation. Here’s a quick reference guide to the major changes under the new law to help you understand what’s changing.

In general, these changes are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. For businesses, these changes are permanent, unless otherwise noted. Read more

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How Does a Hold Harmless Clause Work in the Construction Industry?

Hold Harmless

General contractors and owners commonly use hold harmless clauses to reduce their exposure to risk, thereby helping them maintain lower insurance premiums.

Construction work, by its very nature, is a high-risk type of business. It usually isn’t a matter of if a loss occurs, but when and how much. When a loss does occur, such as an electrical wiring fire, all the parties involved with the project generally point the finger at the other parties. Read more

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Four Ways to Keep Cash Flow High During Busy Season

Cash Flow

How do you keep ahead of the costs of starting a new job while you wait to be paid for the last one?

Everyone struggles to keep up when business really takes off. Projects come all at once. You may hire additional field workers to meet the demand. Payroll is stretched because payments which come in on your new projects lag months behind the large sums you lay out weekly to pay your workers. Read more

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Supreme Court Spotlights Employee Status: Exempt or Not?

Employee Status

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling may have made it easier for employers to have confidence that they’re properly classifying workers as exempt or nonexempt — but as always, the devil is in the details.

Thousands of cases are appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court every year, but usually fewer than 100 get a full-blown hearing and ruling. One case that made it through in the current court term is Encino Motorcars v. Navarro. On the surface, this case looks at whether car dealer service advisors are exempt or nonexempt. But the larger issue affecting jobs of all kinds involves just how narrowly the relevant law — the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — can be interpreted when determining between exempt status and nonexempt.

The case was brought by service advisors at a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Los Angeles. They worked from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week, which is well over 40 hours, and sought overtime pay for the difference. Read more

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Supreme Court Sides with Employers on Arbitration Agreements

Arbitration

The U.S. Supreme Court has thrown its support behind the use of mandatory arbitration on an individual basis as a means of resolving employee disputes over labor practices.

The Supreme Court often agrees to rule on questions upon which individual appeals courts have reached different conclusions, to create a uniform national legal standard.

And that’s what the court did with a 5-4 decision in a case called Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis. The basic question was whether the Federal Arbitration Act has greater authority over arbitration agreements between employers and employees than the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The court consolidated three similar cases in its ruling. In each case, employees had entered into agreements with their employers to resolve any labor disputes that might arise by arbitration, instead of taking the employers to court.  Read more

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6 Cool Ways to Save Taxes during the Hot Summer Months

Save Taxes

The tax rules underwent a major overhaul last winter. Here are some ideas for individuals and small business owners to consider in the summer months.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) may have put a crimp in some of your summer plans by eliminating or scaling back certain tax breaks. But individuals and small business owners still have plenty of opportunities to save taxes. Here are six ideas to consider this summer. Read more

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Should Your 401(k) Plan Adopt An Auto-Enrollment Feature?

401(k) Enrollment

Many employers have 401(k) plans with a low participant percentage. Current tax rules make it easy for organization to automatically enroll employees, helping them save for retirement.

Current tax law gives employers encouragement to start automatically enrolling employees for tax-saving 401(k) elective deferral contributions (also called salary reduction contributions). The Pension Protection Act of 2006 removed perceived state-law restrictions and made other changes.

The end result of these changes: Companies adopting auto-enrollment features will have more employees participating. Larger allowable salary reduction contributions can likely be made for higher-paid employees, because lower-paid workers will be contributing more.

Read more

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Uncashed Distribution Checks: Best Practices For Plan Sponsors

Distribution Checks

When employees leave, it can be difficult for benefit plan sponsors to know where to send their information. Follow these best practices for handling such situations.

Defined contribution plan sponsors face numerous challenges when workers change jobs, and the Department of Labor (DOL) is paying close attention to how employers are dealing with these situations.

Often, outgoing workers don’t provide instructions or forwarding information, leaving it up to the plan sponsor to figure out what to do with the assets that are left behind.

From 2004 to 2013, more than 25 million participants in workplace plans left at least one retirement account behind when changing jobs, according to a January report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Meanwhile, the DOL estimates that $15 million in distribution checks goes unclaimed each year. Read more