Advice

The Social Security Administration has resumed sending employers letters regarding mismatches of em­ployees’ names and Social Security numbers. Since employee name/SSN matches are critical to payroll administration, you’re right to be concerned. But there seems to be some confusion over these letters.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits the extension of federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples who marry under state law. Some federal courts have ruled DOMA unconstitutional, and the Department of Justice says that it will no longer defend the law. But the IRS says it’s still enforcing DOMA as it applies to the tax laws that cover married couples.

States that borrow from the federal government to pay regular unemployment benefits must pay back those loans, including interest. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act waived interest payments for two years, but that provision expired at the end of last year, leaving an estimated 30 states to face a financial bind. President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal contains relief for strapped states and employers.

The health care reform law requires you to report the value of employees’ health benefits on their W-2 forms. The IRS waived mandatory reporting for 2011, pending future guidance. Now the guidance has been released. It requires employers filing 250 or more W-2s to report beginning with 2012 W-2s that are filed in 2013.

You knew it was going to happen. With so much revenue at stake, the IRS has begun correspondence audits of employers that claimed the 6.2% Social Secur­ity credit against wages paid to new hires under the 2010 Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act.
In a fight over whether payments from an S corporation to its sole shareholder are dividends or salary, the IRS has the final word. Now a federal trial court has ruled that the IRS had authority to recharacterize non-FICA-taxable dividends distributions from an S corp to its sole shareholder as FICA-taxable wages.
A federal trial court has directed an employer that appropriately withheld payroll taxes from an arbitration award to pay back the amount withheld to the employee. An employer must obey an arbitration award to the letter, the court ruled.
Is your direct deposit or paycard campaign a little long in the tooth? Now may be the best time to update it to encompass new communications media, such as smartphone apps. Leverage the technology for smartphone banking apps to sell direct deposit or payments via payroll debit paycards. You can go one step further and pair electronic pay with paperless deposit statements.
Question: According to the company grapevine, a couple of managers are pressuring their employees to attend and play on their softball teams at the company’s annual picnic. Would these employees need to be paid for this time?