September 2015

HR Extras

Penalties for failing to file ACA information returns doubled

Large employers should be aware of a potentially costly Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that was tucked away in the Trade Preferences Extension Act. Beginning in 2016, it doubles the per-employee penalties on applicable large employers that fail to file ACA information returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or fail to provide employees with payee statements regarding their health care coverage, as required by the law.
 
All employers that offer self-insured health coverage for employees, regardless of size, are required to comply with the law’s reporting requirements. “Among other things, these increased penalties will apply to Forms W-2 and the 1099-series, as well as the ACA required employer shared responsibility and minimum essential coverage reporting forms,” according to a July 13 Benefits Brief from Groom Law Group.
 
The provision’s increased penalties are as follows:
  • The basic penalty for failure to file or furnish a correct information return or payee statement will more than double, going from $100 to $250.
  • The standard annual penalty cap will double from $1.5 million to $3 million.
  • If the failure relates to both an information return and a payee statement, the penalties are doubled to $500 per statement with a $6 million cap.
The new penalties apply to returns and statements required to be filed after Dec. 31, 2015, including 2015 informational forms that must be filed with the IRS by Feb. 28, 2016 (or by March 31, 2016, if filed electronically).
 
—“Penalties Doubled for Not Filing ACA Information Returns,” by Stephen Miller, Society for Human Resource Management Website, July 22, 2015.

How far does $100 stretch in Texas?

The Tax Foundation published an interactive map showing how far $100 would go in different metropolitan areas across the U.S. Using 2013 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the map lets you to see differences in the real value of $100 within each state.
 

 
We found substantial differences in purchasing power within our own state. The two Texas metro areas where $100 is worth the least are Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ($99.21) and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland ($99.40).
 
In stark contrast, $100 goes farthest in cities along the border with Mexico, including El Paso ($110.01), Laredo ($112.11), and Brownsville-Harlingen ($117.23). Real purchasing power is nearly 20 percent greater in Brownsville-Harlingen than Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington. In fact, cities in the Rio Grande Valley even have greater purchasing power than rural areas in Texas ($114.03).
 
Another regional comparison shows that one hundred dollars goes as far in Austin-Round Rock ($101.32) as it does in Midland ($101.73).

TEA announces teacher shortage areas for 2015‒16

The U.S. Department of Education has approved the following teacher shortage areas for 2015‒16 as submitted by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
  1. Bilingual/English as a Second Language
  2. Career and Technical Education
  3. Computer Science
  4. English as a Second Language
  5. Math
  6. Science
  7. Special Education—Elementary and Secondary
These shortage areas are the same as those from the previous year.
 
Administrators can recruit and retain teachers in these shortage areas by encouraging them to use the loan forgiveness programs available to them. TEA has information on the loan forgiveness programs on its Website.
 
For additional information on loan forgiveness programs, contact James Golsan in TEA’s Department of Leadership and Quality.